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"We can write songs about God and have them right next to songs about girls. I think we weave God, sex and politics together in a way that's very unusual to white music." — Bono

U2: London, February 7, 2001

February 08, 2001

by Jon Horsley

- The rock behemoths go back to basics for their biggest small gig of the year -

Outside ticket touts are offering up to 800 for tickets with one fan even willing to go to 5000. Inside, the A, B and C-list celebrities are packed in upstairs with fan club members and competition winners comfortably rammed in below.

Given the daunting task of warming up the crowd, Jon Carter throws in The Clash and The Boys Are Back in Town with the latter getting huge cheers to rival those for Salman Rushdie as he takes his seat.

After a good half hour, a lean and fit looking U2 finally take the stage and rip straight into Until The End Of The World. The crowd, whose mood during the long wait had gone from nervous to apprehensive to anxious, naturally erupts. Bono, casually leaning into the crowd, is clearly in his element, playfully teasing the front rows as he stands precariously on the crash barrier.

This is a stripped-down U2 to go with their studious return to their rock on recent album All That You Cant Leave Behind, with the enormous props and light shows of the Popmart tour all jettisoned and replaced by the band simply playing their songs.

U2 sweep through new songs Beautiful Day and Elevation with both greeted like old friends. But its not until new single Stuck In A Moment You Cant Get Out Of is floated out that the evening is elevated to legendary status. Older songs like I Will Follow are trotted out with barely concealed delight, but rather perversely, the band play nothing from The Joshua Tree.

The crowd of fans of course, care not for such omissions, kept happy by songs like Discotheque and One, towards the end of which Bono starts singing Craig Davids Walking Away. In fact, throughout the night Bono slyly slips in lyrics from other songs by the likes of Elvis Costello, Radiohead and Joy Division. Strange certainly, but Bono has the charisma to carry off any amount of rock posturing. And hes on hypnotic form as he recreates his Live Aid moment during final song Bad.

Of course, U2 were preaching to the converted. They could have come on and played four kazoos for an hour and still be hailed as gods. But tonight they prove their worth and relevance in these times of Popstars and Billie Piper tabloid saturation. Welcome back the Kings of Rock, and long may they reign. 10/10

Jon Horsley

Eyewitness Report:
- When Salman Rushdie got his round of applause, the unfortunate Mariella Frostrup had walked to the front of the balcony and wrongly assumed the cheers were directed at her.
- Bono teased the crowd during All I Want Is You showing a mobile phone, which he replaced in his pocket.
- Billie Piper and Chris Evans could be seen deep in discussion, identifiable by the enormous size of Billies head.

2001, Music365.com.

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