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"Rock and roll loves its juvenilia, its caricatures, its cartoons. The protest singer, the pop star, the sex god, your mature messiah types." — Bono inducting Bob Marley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Bono the Warrior rocks Auckland with U2

- November 25, 2006

by Phil Taylor

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullin Jr became warriors for a night.

The foursome - with Bono proudly displaying a New Zealand Warriors jacket - were heroes to all on a night that shone with stars, cellphones and glow sticks.

With lighting razzamatazz to rival Time Square, downtown Tokyo or Amsterdam at New Year's, U2 once again dynamically claimed Auckland as their own, renewing the special bond that goes back to the Irish super group's beginnings.

Bono had combed hair in a new wave cut when U2 first delivered I Will Follow to the masses, New Zealand being the first vinyl nation to put it top of a singles chart. The Edge had fluffy hair when he first came to town. He was in his customary dark beanie and goatie, this time round.

They brought the love and peace then and now, but these days they also carry it in three jet aeroplanes and a load of shipping containers.

The Vertigo tour is as spectacular as any rock show this country has seen. Fans heading to Mt Smart Stadium for the second night should get excited.

Twenty years on after those early Aotearoa OEs, I Will Follow still lifts the soul and heels, played with a commitment that shows U2 are still into it as much as ever. The fire inside burns on.

Then again, who wouldn't enjoy playing to 45,000 enthusiastic, hand-waving fans around the world every night? This Auckland audience, who Mexican waved under house bulb towers before U2 opened with City of Blinding Lights, was ready for some payback.

The group knew. It's been eight months since they understandably had to postpone the original dates. Then the heavens dumped rain on everyone up until U2 hit the stage.

As good as Kanye West and his supporting performers were opening - especially the strings and selection of classic samples - the rain, wind, crowd chatter and rising buzz was distracting.

Thankfully, U2 have Auckland the party it was well in need of after two months of World Cup Rugby 2011 stadium wrangling.

And those believing a new "inflatable dinghy" stadium will take first offers of music tours after 2011 were clearly shown that Mt Smart can still rock with the best of them. It has a crater. And earthly acoustics.

Bono, described by a female friend as a man who knows how to endear himself to a crowd, immediately reaffirmed the home fans' loyalty, keeping the faith by wearing a Warriors' emblem on his back.

The jacket was gone after half a dozen numbers, but his sweetest move came later as he plucked a young strawberry blonde from the audience for dancing, snuggling and serenading.

Another friend called her "hot chick." What she had was charm, style and poise, as well as the hearts and minds of Bono's swooning admirers.

The tenderness in which he delivered With Or Without You to her on bended knee was genuinely gorgeous, a moment to stop an uptight city.

To the purists, there may have been one or two missing, but the two-hour show also included Vertigo, an energising Beautiful Day, Elevation, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Miss Sarajevo, Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year's Day, an awesome Angel of Harlem, Where The Streets Have No Name, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Kite, Pride and In the Name of Love.

At a time when we're divided on so many things, Bono reminded us that it's unfortunate there's no tree been planted on One Tree Hill.

It's sound advice, as the way the anthem tribute united everyone as it always has shows the feeling could be repeated by seedlings being nurtured and grown on the summit of Maungakiekie. Kia kaha, U2.

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