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I'm Irish. I'm a rock star here. I'm not white either. The Irish are kind of -- pinkish. Underdone.-- Bono, 2004


by Phil Johnson

I had been waiting for U2 to play at Glastonbury since the first time I went in 1994. I first saw U2 in Leeds the year before and I was totally blown away. I always thought that if these two giants of the music world combined then what a glorious thing it would be. Finally I got to witness my rock n roll dream come true at Glastonbury 2011.
U2 did not disappoint. Straight in with Even Better than the Real Thing the band played tribute to their Achtung Baby days. Then came The Fly, Until the End of the World, Mysterious Ways and, of course, essential for any Achtung Baby set, the sublime One. I was really chuffed as the guys played with all the professionalism and enthusiasm youd expect from them. Next came Where the Streets have no Name and I Still Havent Found what Im Looking For (please excuse me if Im getting the order mixed up a little, it was Glastonbury after all). At this point I was really happy. All the hits you could wish for at a U2 gig. This is exactly how they continued throughout the set, hit after hit. My girlfriend, a relatively new U2 fan, found that this was a great set for Glastonbury as she knew the majority of the songs.
The down side was the rain. Id seen U2 three times previously, Leeds in 1994, Manchester in 2005, and Sheffield in 2009 and every time the weather was great so I could just concentrate on the music. This time I found the weather slightly distracting, but you cant blame the band or the festivalfor this.
I was really happy with the set throughout. The audience were treated to great sing along audience pleasers like Elevation, Pride (In the Name of Love) and Beautiful Day. I was having a right old sing along. Finally after this great set it was time for the encore. With or Without You was fantastic, but they followed that with the overly sombre Moment of Surrender which completely brought the mood right down, even killing it if I was to be totally honest. I really like U2 but I feel like this was a completely misplaced song. Something uplifting like Walk On would have been perfect at this point. They brought it back little, for the fans at least, with their first single, Out of Control, but I feel that members of the audience who were not familiar with U2s early material would have felt even more deflated than I, a lifelong U2 fan, did. This took me back to when I saw them in 2009. I felt exactly the same when they finished with Moment of Surrender back then. Although I think it is one of the better songs from the album, No Line on the Horizon, I dont think its a good song to finish on. I like to leave a gig in a good mood, even elevated and inspired. I feel that this song puts a downer on proceedings and should not have been played at Glastonbury.
Despite my misgivings about the final two songs from the encore and my disappointment with the weather U2 did a sterling job. Predominantly playing a greatest hits set was a wise idea which reached out to both fans and newcomers alike. I think the set I saw them perform in 2005 on the Vertigo tour was really hard to beat as was the 1994 Zoo TV gig Perhaps I could be accused of wanting U2 to repeat this with every concert. It could be argued that a band like U2 should be able to do just this with the amount great songs they have in their back catalogue. However what is done is done and I have no say in what choices a band ultimately makes. For some Im sure that this was the perfect set. For me they didnt get it completely right but it was an enjoyable experience for both a U2 and Glastonbury fan.

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