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U2's surprise London gig caps off a busy day

Excitingly, reports of a secret gig in London proved accurate. The band played from the roof of the BBC's Broadcasting House, at the top end of Regent Street on the corner with Langham Place. Speakers and lights were set up during the day and U2 crew members sighted included Dallas Schoo and Joe O'Herlihy. Thousands of people gathered at the location, and the show began at 6:45pm UK time.The setlist was:

  1. Get On Your Boots
  2. Magnificent
  3. Vertigo / Substitute (snippet) / She Loves You (snippet)
  4. Beautiful Day

All details for this show including reviews and photos can be found here.

If you attended the show we ask you to share your concert review or photos with other site visitors. You can post your review of the show here and upload your pictures here.

At the very start, Bono thanked the Westminster City council for making this surprise show possible. The band played close to the edge of the roof with Bono sometimes leaning over the railing to sing down to the crowd. He confessed that he is afraid of heights and asked "why would you write a song called Vertigo?" Vertigo was going to be the last song and the band came to the railing to wave farewell to the crowd, but they were given the chance to play a fourth track if they were quick, so after hurriedly consulting, they launched into Beautiful Day. It looked very crowded up on the balcony, with a camera crew and other personnel there too. Particular thanks to Elise L. for her assistance with this article.

This surprise gig caps off a busy day for U2 since the Live Lounge appearance at midday. Read on for a summary of some interesting points from the band's interviews with Simon Mayo and Chris Evans.

In the mid-afternoon, Bono and Adam spoke to Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 5. The interview covered a wide range of topics. From a setlist perspective, the most interesting revelation came when Simon asked the band a listener-submitted question about whether they have considered playing a whole album live. Bono responded that they had considered playing a whole side of an album, in the traditional vinyl sense, on the Vertigo Tour: Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree, and especially Boy were candidates. As their song selection for Boy was nearly an entire side anyway - the only song not played on Vertigo in any manner from Boy's first side was Twilight - Bono said it was the closest to actually happening on the two arena legs in the US.

Moving away from setlists, Simon asked them about the role of digital music and illegal downloads. Adam spoke about how a new model of music distribution is developing, and that it is good for music to be out there and people hearing it. However, he expressed concern for young bands and asked how they could financially survive in such a climate; he was frank that this is not a worry for a band of U2's stature. Bono also took a positive view. He emphasised that listening to music is only one facet, and there is a whole world of photography, liner notes, and other details surrounding the audio. He believes that digital space will lead to a renaissance in this regard, as album artwork will be more interactive, able to be shaped by the listener to reflect their memories associated with the work. It can bring "the experience of music into an environment". The band were also confronted with a listener's question about the volume of compilations and remasters released recently. Bono's simple advice was that people who don't like a particular release simply shouldn't buy it, though he expressed some worry about how completist fans can be exploited. Adam added that the early albums had never been mastered for CD; the original CD releases were taken from the vinyl masters and the remasters brought them up to the quality of contemporary CD mastering.

Then in the early evening, all of U2 were interviewed during the first hour of Chris Evans' show on BBC Radio 2. During this time, the band chose the music and answered questions from listeners. Larry's music selection was Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen; The Edge chose London Calling by The Clash; Adam picked Substitute by The Who; and Bono selected Jean Genie by David Bowie despite originally intending to pick Live Forever by Oasis. The band were clearly in a relaxed and playful mood. In response to one question, the band indicated that a new album "may well" be released next year, and that if their plans for the immediate future come to fruition, the immediate future could feel like the band's "heyday". On another topic, Bono stated that he hasn't lost much, if any, of his hearing over the years - to which Larry sarcastically responded that it's because Bono doesn't attend rehearsals. Edge remarked that a "technology genius" amongst U2 is simply being able to fix the printer; the bar for technological ability is not set high.

Evans asked the band what their individual favourite U2 moments were. Adam's answer was playing Madison Square Garden after 11 September 2001. Larry was particularly taken by the band's Vertigo Tour show in Poland when everybody in the crowd held up red and white to make the Polish flag. Edge chose a more whimsical moment: when the lemon failed to open at the Oslo Popmart show (and the lemon, apparently, is still in storage now). Bono cited a very recent event: being involved in Obama's inauguration and getting to play Pride on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The band were also asked about the favourite gigs they've seen. Edge named the recent Led Zeppelin reunion. Larry after some consideration picked the Arcade Fire, when they opened for U2 in Montreal. Bono chose seeing Leonard Cohen in Dublin last year. Adam looked well into the past and named Talking Heads at the Camden Ballroom in 1981.

The band then left the studios at 6pm, reappearing on the airwaves some 45 minutes later for the surprise gig described at the start of this article


Posted on by Axver


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