There is only one day to go until the first show of the fifth leg of the Vertigo Tour, and we naturally expected U2 to do a final rehearsal before the big show. We arrived at around 6pm as the sun set on a nice day, and Edge was in the stadium soundchecking with the techs - a brief snippet of The Electric Co. appeared during this check. Clouds were gathering above us, and as it got dark, it began to rain lightly and intermittently. The crew were running tests with the screen, more intensively once it was fully dark, but the fans who were gathered - thirty or forty when we arrived, but we estimate it swelled past fifty or sixty on the hill overlooking gate sixteen - began to worry U2 would not rehearse due to the rain.
However, we were not disappointed! At four minutes to eight o'clock, The Arcade Fire's Wake Up began blasting over the speakers as light rain fell, and it was followed by the "Everyone" intro. Then U2 came on stage to loud cheering and calls of "let us in!" from the assembled fans outside the stadium. The setlist was:
1. City Of Blinding Lights / Singing In The Rain (snippet)
2. Vertigo / She Loves You (snippet)
3. Singing In The Rain (snippet) / Elevation / Never Tear Us Apart (snippet)
4. Until The End Of The World
5. New Year's Day (Bono did not sing at all after Edge's solo)
6. Beautiful Day
7. Yahweh (earliest this song has ever been played in a set)
8. Walk On (full band electric version, unlike the acoustic version done last year)
The rain had become heavier over the course of the previous few songs and some lightning had been seen, so Bono announced "straight to Pride". After a brief pause as the band and technicians organised themselves, followed by a false start on Pride, the band played:
9. Pride (In The Name Of Love) (fully instrumental, second verse/second chorus cut)
Bono spoke some more, although we couldn't quite understand him. Edge played some teasers on guitar. We wondered if they were going to leave due to the rain, but then a famous organ sound washed over the stadium.
10. Where The Streets Have No Name (largely instrumental; Bono weakly sung the first verse)
11. Unknown singing / One / Rain (snippet)
12. As the band paused, Bono sung Rolf Harris's Two Little Boys
13. Zoo Station (complete with Zoo baby slots intro; first lyrics cut, began at "cool of the night")
14. The Fly
15. With Or Without You / Never Tear Us Apart (snippet) / Love Will Tear Us Apart (snippet)
16. The Saints Are Coming
17. Angel Of Harlem (Bono played harmonica at the end)
This was followed by Bono inviting Father Jack Heaslip to give a blessing on the tour. Heaslip began with "Bono sang the saints are coming. I say the saints are already here", but we could not understand the rest. The rain had begun to ease during the Zoo set, but by Heaslip's blessing, it had become quite heavy again and we departed once the blessing was complete and it became apparent that the band were done for the evening.
Some notes about the performances:
- Over the end of Beautiful Day after the "all the colours came out" verse, Bono primarily sung "oooh oooh" to the melody rather than singing the correct lyrics.
- Yahweh was the same acoustic version as has usually been played on tour.
- Walk On was full band and rather akin to the Elevation Tour versions. Bono played guitar and had a music stand in front of him. The last time a full electric version of this song was performed publicly was at the Grammy Awards on 27 February 2002
. An acoustic version was done seven times last year.
- Over One's intro, Bono sung some singing we could not identify. One did not have the "do you hear us coming?" verse. After One, during the pause until the commencement of Zoo Station, Bono sung Two Little Boys, a song written in 1902 by Theodore Morse and Edward Madden and popularised by Australian entertainer Rolf Harris in 1969.
- With Or Without You's lighting combined with the rain created quite an eerily beautiful impact from where we were standing.
- Angel Of Harlem has been performed just once on the Vertigo Tour, on 29 October 2005 in Dallas
when a fan came on stage and played the song with U2. The last time the song was included in a concert's original set was 1 December 2001
- The new version of Kite is beautiful and includes a didgeridoo, a traditional Australian Aboriginal wind instrument. The beginning includes Kite's strings and soft guitar, with the rest of the band joining soon after. At the end of the song, Edge launched into an extended solo based upon the solo earlier in the song. At the end, Bono sings the "who's to say where the wind will take you?" verse again.
- We are unsure if U2 intend to close concerts with Kite, or if it simply ended up last due to the limitations imposed by the rain. It may have originally been intended for the main set like yesterday but cut when Bono called to skip to Pride, and then practiced at the end due to the need to rehearse it.
- And, of course, we should answer the all-important question: how does Bono sound? In a word, fantastic. At points tonight, he was clearly holding back and not pushing his voice to the limits to stay fresh for the actual concerts, but he sounds brilliant: strong, crisp, clear.
And now some further details that will be of particular interest to those of you attending shows on this leg, especially the one tomorrow! Below are just three of a range of photos
Firstly, U2 have some new merchandise available for this leg of the tour. This photo is illustrative of some of the merchandise that will be at the shows:
Secondly, some new visual effects have been added for this leg, including some based upon Aboriginal artwork. Below is an example:
Thirdly, the GA line tomorrow! The panoramic shot below is looking towards
the Kessels Road end, with the stadium on the far left and Gate 16 near the camera. When GA ticketholders arrive, they will be directed to the extensive queue area that can be seen in the field of the secondary stadium to the right. They will then be led across the small "bridge" that can be seen in the left of the photo to the gate and admitted to the stadium. A photo of the queuing area itself can be found in the aforementioned photo gallery
The setup inside the stadium resembles the European stadium setup, with two arms leaving the stage to connect with separate b-stages, with the gap in the middle. A security fence for crowd control is a bit further back and establishes a divide between an inner zone around the stage and an outer zone that encompasses the rest of the field. Conflicting reports state that the inner zone holds either 2,500 or 4,000 people; we currently lean towards the former as the accurate figure but are unsure. Reportedly, 1,000 tickets have been sold that permit the holder direct access to the inner zone. For ordinary General Admission ticket holders, the rule is "first come, first served". There is no lottery.