By ANITA FRANCO
After nearly six months, U2's "Vertigo" tour returned triumphantly to Los Angeles last week.
At the start of the concert, it was all about teasing drummer Larry Mullen on his birthday, and from that point on, U2 became the Larry Mullen Band.
This was definitely one special show. Talk about a party; if you were not there, you should have been. "Happy Birthday" signs were all over the place in the crowd, paying tribute to the drummer.
The band members even had shirts on that said "The Larry Mullen Band."
As Bono opened up the show with "City of Blinding Lights" and "Vertigo," the crowd was on fire, and there wasn't an empty seat in the house.
I understand there were also quite a few celebrities in attendance; Bono mentioned Salma Hayek, Heather Graham, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron, Val Kilmer, and Lionel Richie. I'm sure there were plenty more, but none compared to Mullen; after all, it was his party.
As praises and compliments were paid to Larry, he took the mic alone on stage (wearing Bono's cowboy hat) and thanked the crowd for coming to his celebration. "You can leave your gifts at the door," he said, and then thanked Bono, Edge, and Adam Clayton for being his backing band.
There was surprise after surprise throughout the evening.
"Edge, it turns out, is from the future," said Bono, "but ah, we already knew that." He's from a very different planet in the future, coming to us in a time-traveling space ship, Bono said. The guitarist played the same four notes over and over, which opened "Miracle Drug."
Bono's speech got lots of laughs, and by the time Bono had finished his latest version of the early U2 mythology, the fans behind the stage were chanting "Edge, Edge, Edge."
Someone in the audience gave Bono a United States flag (there were lots of flags in the crowd). Hanging the flag over the mic stand for "Sunday Bloody Sunday," Bono found a girl from the audience who joined him on stage, embraced in his arms, while he sang "for the sons and daughters of Abraham" who are serving in the Armed Forces. I'll bet she felt like a million bucks.
Song after song was played, including "One" and "With or Without You," when the place lit up with cell phone lights.
Bono walked to the front of the horseshoe-shaped stage and stated that it pays to advertise. The boys pulled four girls up on stage - the all-girl band called Exit. Bono asked them if they wanted to sing "Out of Control." I think they were a little freaked out; nevertheless, the girls played the band's instruments and sang with U2, giving them a night they will never forget, I'm sure. I wonder if we will be hearing about these girls in the near future.
This was a wonderful night of celebration, surprises and the Larry Mullen Band.