U2 Vertigo – Sydney 3

“Three nights here. Never been done before. They say it will never be done again. But they also don’t think we’re coming back”

As Bono spoke to the 3rd sold out night at Sydney’s Telstra Stadium, it’s hard not to think that the Irish folk quartet  would have happily been back for 4th and 5th shows of the 80,000 seat stadium given the chance.

After an start to the tour in Brisbane which showed some signs of nerves, U2 had raised the bar higher and higher after their preceding shows at the venue for the 2000 Olympic Games. Night 3 was to see the band as relaxed, happy and (almost) polished as they’d ever been. Any sound problems down to the mammoth venue had been resolved, the setlist included some real curveballs, and the execution… incredible.

An early start to the day saw another lineup just before 9. The forecast wasn’t flash – thunderstorms and possible hail – and that proved pretty much on the money for the Homebush area. Huddled under 4 umbrellas on a damp picnic rug made a few of us wonder what we were thinking.

One thing to remember though: nothing stops the rain liky buying a poncho, so after spending $15 on 3 glorified garbage bags, the skies cleared and the crowds grew. After a few nights around the B-Stage areas of the inner barricade, it was decided that the front of the stage was the go for tonight. The aim was on the rail, Edge’s side. Once the gates opened we missed by seconds, getting a spot one person deeper than the rail. No real complaints.

Kanye West did his thing – he’s getting better and might just have realised that the fans are there for the act that comes on after him. Arcade Fire‘s Wake Up blared out across the arena, and by now most people knew what that meant.

After the familiar openers of City of Blinding Lights and Vertigo, came a few surprises. 1980′s ageless  I Will Follow got a huge ovation and sounded fresh. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For kept its place from the previous night, and the huge sound of Love And Peace Or Else kick started the amazing middle section of the show that sees U2 playing songs written – in some cases – 23 years apart.

Last night, I was on stage with Kylie” announced Bono. “Tonight, you’ve got us all to yourselves“. Thank christ for that. Thoughts of Kylie belly-dancing to Mysterious Ways were acceptable enough, but the thought of her with a microphone in her hand was too much to bear. By not showing up on stage, Kylie followed in Bono’s footsteps as a true humanitarian.

Zoo Station and The Fly made way for Mysterious Ways – its first appearance on this leg of the tour – and what a version. With Edge playing another different guitar, a Rickenbacker 360/12 as opposed to his usual 330/12, he continued to make it easier for the photographers amongst us to remember which song matched which shot. In fact the only guitar he uses on more than one song is the trusty Gibson Explorer.

After announcing that The Saints Are Coming was currently number 1 on the Australian Singles Chart, the band ripped into the best version yet. Who needs Green Day…?

Winding down the show, the band turned back the clock to 1982′s B-side Party Girl. It sounded like the full 25 years since they’d played it, Bono calling a band meeting to get it sorted and back on track. Mind you, it wasn’t like he was excused – forgetting the words on a number of occasions but importantly remembering the champagne.

Again closing with Kite, featuring Tim Moriarty on the didgeridoo,  the kite sailed off into the now clear skies. It was off to Adelaide, this Sydney party was over. But what a party it was.

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