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"This is the only town on the planet where they're not going to notice a 40-foot lemon." — Bono, in Las Vegas on the PopMart tour




by Ed Miller

'See the world in Green and Blue
Aotearoa right in front of you.
See the land of the long white cloud
Cape Reinga, to the fiords in the south.
Harbour lights in the City of Sails
Aroha, the love that never fails
See the bird with the leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out.'
- Beautiful Day, Auckland, NZ - 24 Nov 2006

After a 13 year absence from New Zealand, U2 triumphantly brought the house down on Friday night and cemented themselves in the hearts of 45,000 people at Mt Smart Stadium.

After seeing U2 in Rome last year (on holiday at the time), I was not sure what to expect back home in NZ. What we got was a heart-felt performance that fizzed with passion and enthusiasm from City of Blinding Lights through to Kite. Bono and the boys were having a great time and this showed through with the smiles on their faces. The Edge was in top form and Bono, quite frankly astounded fans with the quality of his voice. They had been relaxing for a few days prior to the concert and did not do any media or campaigning, choosing to kick back and enjoy the sights, sounds and cuisine of New Zealand, and this obviously had an effect on the show, being fresh and on top of their game.

Highlights? Well, where do you start? A huge effort had gone into the show, from Bono re-arranging the lyrics to Beautiful Day to sing about New Zealands landscape and incorporating Crowded Houses Four Seasons In One Day, wearing the Auckland Warriors logo (the stadiums resident rugby league team) on his jacket, to the unforgettable One Tree Hill, being played in its entirety for the first time in more than 16 years. It was appropriate, it was beautiful, and it was moving in a way that I had never experienced at a concert. Bono stood silent, head bowed, as a mark of respect for their friend, New Zealander Greg Carroll, to whom the song was written, before breaking into voice. All the while Maori koru designs floated across the video screen. At the end, Bono removed his trademark sunglasses, almost teary-eyed, and finished the song run to the ocean run to the sea. The crowd was putty in his hand for the rest of the night.

The band moved from number to number, and Bono - like the Pied Piper, led everyone along, the crowd doing whatever he told them to. It was at this point that it is plainly evident that Bono has the uncanny ability to endear himself to a crowd. No wonder he is such an effective political campaigner.

It was a quality show from start to finish, despite the rain a couple of hours earlier (the rain ceased only half an hour before the show), even when the bird-shaped kite got stuck in the video screen at the end, and even when it took almost two hours to get home.

Bono has talked about hoping to create magic every time they go out on stage, and that certainly happened on Friday night. There was a little more than just entertainment on this night. The emotion showed, the enthusiasm showed and the crowd responded. A great night for any U2 fan to see just a little more magic than usual. If you didnt go you missed on a sparkling gem of a show.

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