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"Pretty sexy making your own clothes, I think." — Bono, on Ali's Edun clothing line



by The Hen

This was the day me and my mate had been waiting for ever since we couldn't make it to Popmart- U2 were at last back in England! We made it to Birmingham, hit the T-shirt stalls, and then settled back to await the giants of rock.....

First thing we realised was how small the arena was- everyone's talked about the intimacy of the tour, but it wasn't till we got in there that we realised how close to the stage even the furthest seats were. Wherever you were you got a great view and a great sound, and we could tell there and then how good a show it was going to be. And then the support came on.

WHY Kelis? I mean, if America gets The Corrs and PJ Harvey, and Europe get Stereophonics, JJ72 and the Fun Lovin' Criminals, then why do we get this? Fair enough, she was better than we thought- playing heavier tunes as opposed to cringy R & B, but she was still terrible. Her drummer was good, but the crowd just didn't go for it (although she did do a fairly good cover of Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This). Everyone just laughed at Caught Out Here (The "I hate you so much right now" one"). Still, never mind, she didn't go on for too long.

And then U2.

The crowd were already singing the chorus of Elevation along to the backing tape when the band appeared, and everyone went crazy for it! It was only when the house lights finally went off and the incredible lighting show started at the end of the bridge, though, that we truly realised how great a show we were getting. Who needs lemons and cocktail sticks when you can get visuals like they had last night?

One major gripe: WHERE WAS NEW YEAR'S DAY? The keyboard was there, set up on stage, but didn't get used once. Same goes for Bad, I Will Follow and The Fly- it seemed like they'd missed a lot of the staple songs. I wasn't really complaining, though, cos we got some much better stuff. Out Of Control was a welcome surprise, a wicked version of the song. The Discotheque/ Staring At The Sun medley was great too, just wish it had lasted longer- Staring was one of the most beautiful moments of the night. Wake Up Dead Man also turned up in the middle of the set, instead of the usual segue from One, and sounded great as ever. It was great to see All I Want Is You as well, another one I hadn't expected, and when the intro to Streets started at the end of it, the crowd went mental!

The silhouette screens that got dropped for New York looked amazing, Bono's shadow seemed to take on a life of its own! The song works so well live, much better than on the album. It was great to hear the full band version of Sunday Bloody Sunday as well, sounding very like the Rattle and Hum version. Couldn't make out all the stuff he was saying in the middle, but the crowd loved it.

End Of The World rocked! That was one of the best songs by far, only spoilt slightly as Bono got drowned out by the rest of the band- the mix wasn't perfect at the start of the gig, but got sorted out after a few songs. Mysterious Ways was also sounding good, and the dancing girl screens looked amazing, but where was Edge's shuffle dance?!?!

It was the new stuff that worked best in the new setting though. Stuck In A Moment sounded fantastic, as did In A Little While- Bono and Edge were at the edge of the heart singing down the same mike, giving the whole song a really intimate feel. He dedicated it to Joey Ramone, which the crowd appreciated. Bono also dedicated Kite to his dad, talking about how he had said to his father that he felt guilty about being on the road while his dad was so sick. His dad apparently told him that "If you were around you'd just be a nuisance, tough old f**ker!" The song was beautiful, one of the definite highlights of the concert, and easily Bono's best vocal. But the best moment of the night came when Bono and Edge stood on the catwalk and Bono announced that the next song was from an album that the Americans "didn't really understand", and then played the most perfect version of Stay, my favourite song, that I have ever heard.

After a decent rendition of Pride, the band disappeared, and the crowd struck up with "40", until Charlton Heston appeared on-screen, followed by Bullet The Blue Sky, which rocked, as usual, and Bono added in a load of stuff about John Lennon getting shot. Then came With Or Without You, with some great visuals again. Then the band left again, and reappeared a few moments later, and the lights came up for One. However, everyone in the heart was yelling something at the band, which prompted Bono to come up to the mike and say "We're in charge here! Just cos you've given us great lives, big houses and fancy planes DOESN'T mean you can tell us what to play!" Pause. "Or maybe it does...." Then he went over to Edge, who worked out a couple of chords, and then we were treated to a full version of Party Girl! Everyone loved it, it was so funny. Then they finally made it to One, Bono talking about the Drop The Debt campaign as the intro played, saying that they'll take it out onto the streets if they have to, which the audience cheered. One was gorgeous, and then an immense Walk On closed the gig on a high, everyone singing along.

It was an incredible gig- I just hope they don't leave it too long before coming back to the country! Still want to hear When I Look At The World live- come on boys, it's the best song on the album! It was a beautiful night......

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