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Bruce Springsteen. . . . with those brooding brown eyes, eyes that could see through America. -- Bono, induction speech for Springsteen at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

World''s greatest band explodes

- November 19, 2006

by John Mangan

IN 1993 they gave us multimedia TV at the MCG, in 1998 it was a cosmic lemon at Glen Waverley. Last night at Telstra Dome, U2, the biggest band in the world, dazzled Melbourne with a passionate, pulsating set and surely the biggest, brightest venetian blinds the world has ever seen.

"Victoria, Garden State … let's go to St Kilda tonight," said Bono from the stadium's Coventry End, and 60,000 cheered their agreement.

Then it was down to love, justice, God and all those other vivid yet frustratingly evanescent subjects that U2 insist on singing about.

Tributes abounded, to Michael Hutchence, the Clash's Joe Strummer, and Australian film-maker Richard Lowenstein.

Bono dedicated Sunday, Bloody Sunday to the victims of the Bali bombing, saying: "You don't have to become a monster in order to defeat a monster." A young boy named Aidan was lifted from the crowd and sang along with the Time magazine Man of the Year.

Bono emerged wrapped in an Australian flag bringing the crowd to its feet with City of Blinding Lights. The singer began a long night covering every inch of the broad stage, The Edge made his guitar wail, and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen jnr kept the rhythm rock solid. It was the first of a clutch of songs from the recent album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

Pride (In the Name of Love) shook the Docklands, while in Miss Sarajevo he displayed his vocal versatility, singing the part originally performed by Luciano Pavarotti. With the help of show designer Willie Williams, the band demonstrated its own brand of shock and awe with a spectacular translucent video wall.

Aboriginal dot painting, a bandana featuring a crescent, a cross and a Star of David and a sea of mobile phones completed the picture.

Soaring emotions are the name of U2's game, despite the sunglasses that Bono keeps as a barrier between himself and us.

Yet even they came off for Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own, a searing song dedicated to the singer's late father, Bob.

Kanye West, a huge contemporary act in his own right, had earlier impressively entertained with tracks including Gold Digger, but the crowd was only ever concerned about the main act.

Just another night in the office for the Dublin foursome?

Maybe, but exposing yourself emotionally in front of 60,000 punters, even friendly ones, still deserves a round of applause.

(c) The Age, 2006.

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