U2 Vertigo Tour
Vertigo Tour 2nd leg: Europe
: City of Manchester Stadium - Manchester, England
Bono's glorious demonstration of stadium rock(published on 2005-06-16)
David Cheal reviews U2 at City of Manchester Stadium
When it comes to the difficult art of playing guitar-based rock music, I don't think U2 are anywhere close to being the best band in the world: they can certainly play, but in a live context they can be a crude and ramshackle lot. However, when it comes to the even trickier art of getting stadiums full of people jumping up and down and clapping and singing, and presenting a big, sparkly, bombastic spectacle, they are simply unbeatable. There were times during this show when I feared for the structural integrity of the stadium, such was the bounciness of the crowd.
This was the first night of the UK leg of U2's Vertigo world tour, and if you have tickets for any of the remaining shows, you're in for a treat.
Here, the band - notwithstanding their technical limitations - were on fire, with The Edge delivering some lovely, fluent guitar solos, and Bono in full-on preacher-man-world-statesman mode. And, as the show moved through the gloaming of a temperate evening, their vast set, at the heart of which was a huge, concave backdrop-cum-screen, came into its own, shimmering and blazing. At times I didn't know where to look.
Music-wise, there were no major omissions; they played pretty much everything a U2 fan would want to hear, including Vertigo, Elevation, I Will Follow, One, Beautiful Day, Mysterious Ways, Pride (In the Name of Love), With or Without You, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Where the Streets Have No Name… 25 years' worth of epic songs, custom-made to echo around stadiums, to get thousands clapping in unison.
And Bono? Well, Bono was Bono. He's sentimental, pompous, an ego the size of a planet, but, when he was holding forth on the need to end global poverty, not for a moment did I doubt his sincerity. He pulled two people out of the crowd who were carrying a "Make Poverty History" banner.
"It's a T-shirt, it's a slogan," he said, anticipating the objections of those of a more cynical disposition. "We need T-shirts. We need slogans. We need clear melody lines."
Oh, and he sang a bit, too, his voice a little rough at first but warming to the occasion, filling the place.
But time and again I found my eyes drawn away from the stage and back to the fans lining this elegant sweep of a stadium. It's a strange and beautiful form of entertainment, stadium rock: for it to work well, the crowd need to play their part, to become a third element along with the band and the set, and here they knew exactly what to do, clapping, jumping, waving, singing, shouting, cheering. Glorious.
Is there another band on the planet capable of sparking off such an awe-inspiring reaction? I don't think so.
Often plagiarised, never matched.