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U2 at the Don Valley Stadium

Posted on 2nd September 2009. No Comment

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With a back catalogue as vast and varied as it is, the expectation of U2 in Sheffield last night was undoubtedly high, but they didn’t disappoint.  

Due to the relative scarcity of U2 gigs in recent years the Don Valley Stadium was filled to capacity with relative ease, with fans travelling from across the Midlands and the North.

The publicity machine behind the 360 tour has been intense, largely because the claw like set which dominated the stadium is both hugely expense, and very impressive. The set was designed to provide the audience with a 360 degree view of the stage, allowing a higher attendance, whilst also meaning the band have to perform fewer dates across the globe. The set also lets the band members walk around the entire stage, so even if, like we were you were situated behind the stage to begin with their frequent forays through the crowd ensured audience participation and enjoyment.


With anticipation high because of the well received nature of the previous gigs at Wembley, the band, consisting of drummer Larry Mullen Jr, bassist Adam Clayton, lead guitarist The Edge, and the front man and lyricist Bono had a lot to live up to.


The band emerged on stage following support artists The Hours, and the more widely know Elbow. The first four songs performed were all from their newest studio album ‘No Line on the Horizon,’ with recently released single ‘Get On Your Boots,’ being particularly popular.


Despite the popularity of their new album, it wasn’t until the band reverted to some of their older classics that the gig really came into its own. As the opening bars of ‘Beautiful Day’ were played every piece of the jigsaw seemed to simply fall neatly into place. ‘Elevation’ soon followed as U2 continued playing tracks from what, in my opinion is one, if not the, best album they have written, in 2000’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind.’


By this time an electric atmosphere has descended upon the Don Valley Stadium. This was further enhanced by hits such as the Number 1 single ‘Vertigo,’ and ‘City of Blinding Lights’ from the same 2004 album. This was followed by a remix of ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,’ which was an unexpected and not universally welcome surprise.


The band continued to rely fairly heavily on their (admittedly excellent) back catalogue, before ‘Where The Streets Have No Name,’ led to the band’s disappearance and the beginning of a plea by Desmund Tutu to donate to causes in Africa.


U2 then reappeared to start the first encore with ‘One,’ and ‘Mysterious Ways,’ before again leaving the stage. During this time a long wire was dangled onto the stage from above, with a microphone attached. Bono then bounded onstage, wearing a leather jacket complete with red lights attached to the sleeves, emphasising his every movement, however slight. The gig ended with a final flurry of three songs, eventually finishing on ‘Moment of Surrender,’ leaving the audience fulfilled after a set which lasted over 2 hours.


During the set the band also highlighted the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese politician who is effectively under house arrest due to her views on the current Government. To highlight this scores of people flooded he stage, all holding paper masks of the politician to their faces. Although this is undoubtedly a worthwhile cause, it is questionable whether a gig is the place such activities, especially when many in the audience had paid upwards of £60 a ticket.


Despite this however, I for one left feeling as though I did get my money’s worth, having seen on the most successful bands of the last 20 years perform a selection of their greatest hits, on a spectacular stage in one of only four UK venues included in their tour.






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