U2 Vertigo – Auckland 1

Adam Clayton, U2 Vertigo, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland 24th November 2006

Gallery: U2 Vertigo

We packed our jandals, filled our chilly bins, and headed off across the ditch to watch our first U2 shows outside Australia. Choice, eh bro?

I’d never been to Auckland. Nor had my mate Scott. U2 had, but it was some 13 years prior during 1993’s Zoo TV(or New Zooland as it was coined locally) tour. I thought we had it tough in Australia, having to wait a lazy 8 years between shows. But Kiwi fans of the Irishmen have had it a lot tougher.

Headed out the Muddy Farmer, an Irish bar in Auckland on the night before the show. A few familiar faces from the Aussie Vertigo shows were there, and I met a couple of new faces in Rachael and Earl – a couple who’d travelled almost as far as I had, from Dunedin on the South Island. After plenty of drinks, and passing on a bit of info I’d garnered from the Australian shows re queueing, best viewing spot etc, I headed back to grab some kip.

The following morning I met with a ticket seller from whom I’d purchased a couple of GA tickets via NZ’s eBay equivalent, TradeMe. We had reserved tickets for the 2nd night in Auckland, but we decided we’d rather get down the front again having experienced the view from the stands in Melbourne. So I’d sold the reserved seats and bought some GAs as a replacement.

After swapping the tickets, we went to catch a cab out to the stadium to queue for the first show. It was on the way to the cab that I checked the tickets that I’d just received closely: although being advertised as GA tickets, they were actually B-Reserve tickets. In effect, I had sold 2 A reserve tickets and bought 2 B reserve tickets. Not good. But more on that in tomorrow’s review.

We made it out to the stadium at 11am, and it was a very different system to the Australian shows. After going through 3 security checks, we were ushered into a huge circus tent, full of barriers within which you were to queue. It felt like the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, and didn’t smell too flash.  It did though provide a lot more cover than we had in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, which given it was a beautiful sunny day in Auckland was pretty welcome.

Arriving at 11am at most of the Aussie shows would probably have seen you just scrape into the ellipse section in front of the stage. In this section, security would allow between the first 1800 or 3500 depending on the venue through to stand right up close to the stage and the catwalks. In Auckland However we were really surprised to find that we were no further back than say 250th in line. Looking further up the line, I spotted my friends Rachael and Earl from the night before at the Muddy Farmer. Small place, NZ! So we sat around for 6 hours waiting for the midget to arrive from the All I Want Is You video, but the little fella never made it.

We were given the usual brief by U2’s security – walk, don’t run to the ellipse area as you will get shunted to the back. Once the gates opened it was scary how civilized it was. Compared to the mayhem of Brisbane, the frantic walking of Sydney, and the ticket debacle in Melbourne, this was a lazy sunday afternoon stroll to the ellipse entry point. So accustomed to doing my best Olympic race-walker impression, I was actually the exception to the rule as I passed people in my quest for a spot on the rail at the right B-stage. So I slowed it down and cruised in, Kiwi style.  Our friend Amy from Australia had saved us spots exactly where were after anyway, so all worked out well. Looking over to my left, I saw that Rachael and Earl had taken my ‘advice’ and gone for a similar spot, and the sent me over a beer to say thanks. Nice folks these Kiwis, even if they do speak funny.

Then the rain came.

Intelligently, I’d left my jacket and hat in my backpack, which was checked into the cloakroom, so I stood there in a t-shirt getting drenched as the rain came down faster and faster. Kanye’s set was removed, and then replaced with a huge canopy covering the string section, backup singers, and something that can only be described as a tent surrounding “5 time world DJ champion, A-Trak“.

Kanye was in superb form tonight, he’s been as good as the crowd let him be, and in Auckland the crowd were definitely up for it. I don’t know if it was the rain, or the fact that NZ doesn’t get too many big name acts whose surname isn’t “Finn”, but when Kanye said “This is easily the warmest reception I’ve received on the whole tour”, I had to convince those around me that he wasn’t just saying that. It was actually true. A far cry from the interesting start in Brisbane.  But we still yelled “We Want Peanuts” at him. It had become quite the tradition.

I’d made the mistake of knocking back a few beers inside the ellipse this time, pretty foolish given that always equals inevitable trips to the gents. So I made a few of said trips, and kept having to squeeze my way back to the front rail. Not a popular move amongst those further back. Convincing them i’d been there since 11 in the morning did get harder as the show drew closer. Eventually though, the lights went down. It was dark. And the jungle was my head.

Bono arriving on stage in a jacket bearing the logo of the Auckland Warriors, the logo Rugby League team whose home ground U2 were playing (though an All Blacks fern may have been a better choice), this Auckland crowd went beserk. 40,000 people letting the band know that 13 years away from their shores was too long. Throwing in lines from Crowded House (Four Seasons In One Day) Bono again added the local touch to the global tour.

The first big change (though not a surprise after the volume of rehearsing they’d done in Melbourne) was the inclusion of One Tree Hill from 1987’s The Joshua Tree. A tribute to their late friend and roadie, Kiwi Greg Carroll, this song drew a huge response, if not immediately, as soon as the lyrics “The moon is up and over One Tree Hill” (a famous Auckland landmark) were uttered. What a song, and one that was ultimately to remain in the setlist beyond the New Zealand shows.

Being at the end of the right B-Stage, we had prime position for Larry’s drumming during Love And Peace Or Else. The rain by now had stopped, but the stage was slippery enough to warrant shoes with a bit more grip. Why Larry had donned a 5 year old pair of Nike Air sneakers though I’ll never understand, but i guess he stayed on his feet. This is a song that isn’t one of my favourites from the album, but it really does work live (making it all the more confusing as to why they dropped it from the set the following night).

During the weeks leading up to it, the U2 New Zooland fan group had been planning on releasing a heap of green, white and orange balloons during the refrain in Where The Streets Have No Name. A plastic bag full of balloons was slowly making its way around the ellipse during the end of Pride, and by the start of Streets the ellipse was full of them. Bono commenting on the view a number of times, but not expecting the ballons to be launched once the lyrics “Love, love, love” were pumped out of the PA. The result was a great vibe, Adam kicking the ballons around in front of us on the B-Stage (see photo above), Bono repeatly saying how great it all was, and the crowd just having a brilliant time. Being at the end of Adam’s B-Stage, I thought I was in a reasonable position to score a guitar pick off him at the end of Streets, but while i scored a handshake, the bloke next to me nabbed the pick. So close!

During the encore, Bono dragged a young lady out of the crowd for a dance during Mysterious Ways. Not shy, Cass (I’ve since been in touch to send her some photos!) gave it plenty on stage and lapped up every minute of it. Once into With Or Without You, Bono fell to his knees and sang to her as she wore his hat and soaked up the attention of the crowd. There’s a great story about Cass and her experience in the New Zealand Herald.


  • City of Blinding Lights
  • Vertigo
  • Elevation
  • I Will Follow
  • New Year’s Day
  • Beautiful Day
  • One Tree Hill
  • Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  • Love and Peace or Else
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Bullet The Blue Sky
  • Miss Sarajevo
  • Pride
  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • One


  • The Fly
  • Mysterious Ways
  • With or Without You


  • The Saints Are Coming
  • Angel of Harlem
  • Kite

After the short break, the boys were back one last time with the current number one single The Saints Are Coming, then a cracking version of Angel of Harlem, the best of the Vertigo tour. Without the Australian flavour of Tim Moriarty on the didgeridoo, Kite closed out the night, but not before strong winds played havoc with the launch of the kite into the night sky. Ultimately, the kite would become tangled in the video screen after the band had said their goodnights, but no one in the crowd moved as they watched a roadie scale the screen and free it. The kite was later found by a fan who has listed it for sale on the NZ auction site TradeMe.

Close to my favourite show of the tour, probably didn’t quite knock off Melbourne 1, but a very close second. “Welcome back to NZ”, thought the crowd, “just don’t fucking leave it another 13 years” was the implication.



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