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"We realised that there's only a certain amount of Joshua trees you can chop down." — Larry, on recording All That You Can't Leave Behind


- February 08, 2001

by NME staff

U2 played one of the gigs of the year at the LONDON ASTORIA last night - and NME.COM was there to bring you the first exclusive report.

They played to a rammed venue of fans including a stellar cast of celebrities including Shaznay Lewis from All Saints, Bob Geldof, Sharleen Spiteri, Radiohead's Colin Greenwood, Ash, author Will Self , The Divine Comedy, Radio One DJ Sara Cox and her DJ boyfriend Jon Carter, actor John Hurt, Kylie Minogue, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Massive Attack, Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, Keith Allen, Formula One supremo Eddie Jordan, actor Matthew Modine, comedians Skinner And Baddiel, Queen's Roger Taylor, media mogul Chris Evans and his popstar girlfriend Billie, legendary producer Arthur Baker, Oasis and author Salman Rushdie.

U2 were in incendiary form, playing a host of tracks from current album 'All That You Can't Leave Behind', as well as a clutch of their hits.

Coming on to the strains of The Kinks' Sixties hit 'Waterloo Sunset', U2 took their places on a bare stage bathed in just five spotlights.

Lead singer Bono, in sparkling form, introduced his band as "the family", and laughed: "It's only the second time I've ever done this, introduced the band."

He continued: "We're doing this 'cos we're re-applying for the job. There's a lot of people here watching this that could probably say the same thing. The job is the greatest band in the world."

Tracks played included their first ever single for Island Records, '11 O' Clock Tick Tock', 'Mysterious Ways', 'All I Want Is You', 'Desire' and 'One', at the end of which Bono started singing the lyrics to Craig David's recent hit 'Walking Away'.

The band finished on 'Bad' before re-emerging for their one-song encore of 'Forty from one of their first albums 'War'.

During the gig, Bono also dedicated ''Ground Beneath Her Feet ' to Salman Rushdie, who wrote the lyrics - and the author then watched rapt from the VIP balcony on the upper floor of the venue.

The full setlist was:

* 'Until The End Of The World'
* 'Beautiful Day'
* 'Elevation'
* 'Stuck In a Moment (You Can't Get Out Of)'
* 'Last Night On Earth'
* 'Discotheque' which sequed into 'Staring At The Sun'
* 'New York'
* '11 O' Clock Tick Tock'
* 'I Will Follow'
* 'Desire'(which Bono played solo until the band joined in towards the end)
* 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet'
* 'Mysterious Ways'
* 'One'
* an impromptu and incomplete cover version of 'Unchained Melody'
* 'All I Want Is You'
* 'Bad'
* 'Forty'.

Tickets were selling outside for £1000 and ticket-holding fans were turning down offers of £800 from people desperate to get a glimpse of their favourite band.

Some diehard U2 fanatics had travelled inordinate distances to get to the gig. One U2 tribute band Vorsprung Durch Technik had driven from Hamburg, Germany for 36 hours to see their idols.

© 2001, NME.

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