Let’s not beat around the bush here…The last few weeks have been pretty stressful for Paul Hewson. The singer had to buy his best buddy Larry a birthday present at the end of last month – without Larry, Hewson wouldn’t be in a band. Then there was the fact he had to keep a huge secret until this morning, when it was finally announced the group are to record a special TV show for the BBC and on top of all that the frontman would be performing in one of London’s prestigious landmarks celebrating the honour receiving MTV EMAs Global Icon Award.
Oh and there was also the tiny matter his name had been plastered all across the news for legally putting his money in an offshore account to avoid paying tax.
Apart from that…All is fine in the U2 camp and tonight Bono, The Edge, Adam and founder of the biggest band in the world Larry Mullen Jr. literally light up Trafalgar Square with Admiral Nelson’s left arm narrowing missing being chopped off by a series of coloured laser lights.
Of course it wouldn’t be a U2 show without political messages, tributes and referencing dates which shock the world. Opening number, Sunday Bloody Sunday, covers all three as the names of those who lost their lives at the Manchester Bombing earlier this year rolling down thin plasma screens next to the stage.
During the song Bono has the Irish emblem draped around his neck; “Sometimes I didn’t feel about this flag. Now I feel so proud.” He tells London
Pride is dedicated to the military “on both sides” marking this poignant date – 11th November…Remembrance Day before the words to their new track ‘Get out of Your Own Way’ gradually earworms its way into our heads, it’s the first of two plays tonight, the second airing will rely on a hefty part of audience participation.
A second track from their forthcoming new album – ‘Songs of Experience’ originated from the band’s attempt to write a Motown song. Titled ‘You’re the Best Thing About Me’ Bono has referred to the number as “defiant joy” which is more important than the “difficult times” we are living in….Although he tends to keep a low key on his thoughts about poverty tonight!
Instead of clicking his fingers Bono describe a ‘Beautiful Day’ as a day when “little girls go to school like their brothers’ and a time which will see ‘Women unite to write her story’ and ‘Where you live you call home’. All these messages are probably going over the heads of Jedward who are watching the gig from the VIP area towards the back of the arena!
The track features a snippet from “Starman”, a trick which is repeated for ‘Vertigo’ which sees another timeless Bowie number (“Rebel Rebel”) embedded in the lyrics.
“We are going to save time” Bono announces. “By not going through the encore ritual”. There’s probably a grin on David Guetta’s face backstage who has the ‘impossible task of following U2’ and cramming in as many tracks as he can before the 10pm curfew.
Thanking the MTV presidents and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – who introduced U2 on stage – Bono starts a speech about the 300 languages in London. “There’s much more in common which divides us” he tries to explain to the crowd, but noticing he’s about to lose his audience he turns to his right hand man and says “help me out here Edge”….who comes to his friends rescue playing the opening notes to “One”.
Another outing of ‘Get Out of Your Own Way’ – which features the lines, “Blessed are the filthy rich because you can only truly own what you give away, like your pain.”- turns Trafalgar Square into a peaceful rally with the crowd holding up placards reading positive messages such as ‘Rock Against Racism’ and non-specific slogans such as ‘It’s All Gone South’ and ‘Call Your Mum’.
And that’s it. Bono worries seem to be over…Larry looked happy so he must had received a pretty good birthday present from Paul. The BBC music show has just been revealed and U2 nailed their MTV performance….Mind you, don’t expect a sale any day soon at a Lithuanian supermarket because as Bono says…We are living in ‘difficult times.’
U2 setlist – Trafalgar Square, London – Saturday 11 November 2017
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Pride (In the Name of Love)
Get Out of Your Own Way
You're the Best Thing About Me
Get Out of Your Own Way
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