U2, ARENA, MANCHESTER 20/10/2018


It`s not always popular to say you like a band like U2. They fairly and sometimes unfairly divide opinion. A bit of a marmite band. One thing that I’m sure most would agree on is that these days, is that a U2 show is an all-encompassing experience. The band have embraced state-of-the-art technologies and I have to say, do present an audio and visual show to satisfy all attendees. This tour billed as The Experience and Innocence Tour to support the songs of Experience album which was released at the end of 2017, a companion piece to the 2014 album Songs of Innocence. The tour kicked off in the US in May and is currently due to conclude in Berlin in November. Tonight, they reach Manchester.

Noel Gallagher`s `It`s A Beautiful World` is piped through the pa as the lights dim followed by `All We Have Left / Zooropa` with the Charlie Chaplin speech from the Great Dictator being shown on the massive screen running the length of the arena. The band appear inside the screen playing a couple of tracks from the latest release with `The Blackout` and `Lights Of Home` before sending the faithful into a frenzy with `I Will Follow` This song of all the ones shared tonight transports me back to 1980 to the Cedar Club in Birmingham where I first saw U2 supporting a friend`s new wave/synth pop band called Fashion. The guys were over on the 11 O’clock Tick Tock tour, just a few months prior to this songs release. The boys crack out a few more cuts with the wonderful `All Because Of You` immensely catchy `Beautiful Day`, `Zoo Station`, `The Fly` before mellowing out with `Stay (Faraway, So Close)` and `Whose Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses`

The arena is set up with a couple of stages at either end of the screen walkway to enable all fans to get a glimpse of their heroes and it`s to the “E”Stage that they head to play the more rockier numbers `Elevation`, `Vertigo` and `Even Better Than The Real Thing` They follow this with a few off the latest album with `Acrobat`, `You’re The Best Thing About Me` and `Summer Of Love` before wrapping the show up with `Pride (In The Name Of Love)`, `Get Out Of Your Own Way`, `New Years Day` and the heart breaking `City Of Blinding Lights` where the stadium comes alight with phones being held aloft.

It`s not long before the band are encouraged to return and they do so to the main stage and conclude this two hour extravaganza, with Bono singing a few lines of the Jim O`Rourke song `Women Of The World` as he returns. The stunning `One` is played alongside `Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way` and `13 (There Is A Light` and the fellas take their leave of this twenty thousand emotive audience. This was a superb show and quite different to the companion show I saw in Dublin three years ago. The show had several interesting aspects with Bono reprising his devilish persona MacPhisto, thoughts on the decision to leave the European Union, promoting the #WomenOfTheWorldTakeOver social media campaign for the ONE Campaign, Bono’s charitable organisation and the political aspects shared in a subtler way. This was a visually spectacular event and not all the hits that people would expect were there but for me it was a more mature and personnel show and all the better for it. People will continue to argue but if U2 are not the finest live band around they aren`t that far away.

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