U2 Vertigo – Brisbane

Bono of U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Bono of U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Finally back in town for their 5th tour downunder in 23 years, U2 hit the stage in Brisbane on Melbourne Cup day determined to make up for the earlier postponement of the tour due to guitarist The Edge‘s daughter’s illness.

Arriving at Brisbane’s QSAC (formerly ANZ stadium which was formerly QEII stadium which was the Commonwealth Games stadium in 1982) early – 8:45am – a queue for the General Admission area of around 200 punters had already assembled.

Lineup madness (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Lineup madness (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

As the crowd got bigger, the sun got hotter. With no hat nor sunscreen – well prepared – this red head from Melbourne was banking on a trip up to chilly Queensland. Managing to benefit from the benevolence of sympathetic co-queuers (sunscreen and a hat from the lovely people a few spots up the line) escape with only 2nd degree burns was ensured. Mental note for next show…

Position Secured (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Bono of U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

As the gates opened at 5pm, the frantic run across the floor to get to the ‘ellipse’ (which isn’t really an ellipse, more a semicircular barrier housing the 2 long catwalks) ensued. Prime position attained at the end of the left hand catwalk, on Edge’s side if familiar with the ‘set in their ways’ approach to staging U2 have used for a long long time, sees us more than a little pleased with ourselves.

And then came Kanye West. Now Kanye had been good enough to come back after U2 stood him up back in March, but a U2 crowd and a hip-hop crowd are two very different things and K West misses the mark. Probably not helped by the fact that Queenslanders probably aren’t the most liberal group in Australia. Didn’t really grab the crowd, but of course we did hear about how Kanye had ‘broken his mouth in 4 places’. Hmmm.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Kanye Left. The familiar sound of Arcade Fire‘s Wake Up flooded the crowd, and the lights went down. They were back.

Opening with City of Blinding Lights and into Vertigo there were a few signs of a band that hadn’t played live for 8 months, but more of a band that were very nervous to impress. Some early problems with feedback and Edge’s wireless didn’t help, but once it came time to crank out Until the End of The World this was all forgotten. Bang. Edge ripping through solos from that and New Year’s Day like he was playing them for the first time, a mindblowing mix of one guitar and 48 rack mounted effects units. This guy was – and still is – the ultimate guitar anti-hero.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

The Edge, U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

If there were doubts after a shaky opening,  the middle block of Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, Love & Peace or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky and an incredible version of Miss Sarajevo with Mr Pavarotti‘s tenor part taken over superbly by Bono was as close to live music perfection as I’ve heard.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Adam Clayton, U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

A contrasting mixture of sheer volume, reflection, anger, emotion, politics and beauty that was delivered brilliantly. Some will instinctively squirm when Bono goes off on a rant – Larry Mullen behind the drums more than most – but invariably he tells us what we don’t want to hear. We’re uncomfortable, because in plenty of cases we know what he’s saying is true.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Bono, U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

The staples of PrideStreets and One light up the stadium, with both sound and 45,000 mobile phones.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Bono, U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

Some Achtung Baby moments,  and then back for one of the most unpredictable encores – few would have guessed the new Green Day collaboration The Saints Are Coming would be played for the first time at a U2 show, followed by Angel of Harlem (played, atypically, on Edge’s trademark Gibson Explorer ) and then a finale of All That You Can’t Leave Behind‘s  Kite – with U2 being joined on stage by Tim Moriarty, the son of an Aboriginal tribal elder and grandson of an Irishman, playing the didgeridoo. Pretty confident in saying it’s the first time U2 have had a didge on stage with them. Bono releases a kite into the Brisbane sky, and the night comes to a close.

U2 (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

The Aftermath of Vertigo (Brisbane, 7th November 2006)

The 8 year wait was suddenly worth it.

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