U2 were originally supposed to be here in March this year but they postponed the Aussie leg of the tour after guitarist The Edge's daughter became sick. They finally made it to Melbourne, last Saturday and Sunday night at the huge Telstra Dome stadium at the Docklands. I went to the opening Melbourne gig on Saturday night.
Opening with City of blinding lights from their most recent album How to dismantle an atomic bomb, Bono and the lads impressed the huge crowd with a blistering set covering their whole career, from debut single I will follow to the new Green Day collaboration single The saints are coming. Although, notably there were no songs from their mid-90's albums Zooropa and Pop where they went out on a stylistic tangent with mixed results (both creatively and commercially).
Our seats were directly front-on -- at many venues this would be a positive, but not at Telstra Dome where sitting front-on also means you are a sports stadium length from the stage. But being such a veteran stadium band, U2 knew how to make the show enjoyable to even those who could only see them as ant-size dots on the horizon. There were huge TV screens which initially showed a close-up of the band members, and over the course of the gig they were used for displaying special effects, political texts, and other items of interest.
The band often appended snippets of other songs to the end of an original U2 song -- a couple of songs they used in this way were Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Here comes the sun by The Beatles, and Rock the casbah by The Clash. Bono also dedicated some U2 originals to people who inspired him, like Joe Strummer and Michael Hutchence.
Bono has never been shy of expressing his political opinions, and definitely didn't hold back here. He talked a lot about poverty in Africa and commented that to "defeat a monster you don't have to become a monster" (obviously in relation to the war in Iraq).
In one of the more poignant moments in the gig they put up the word Coexist on the TV screen, where the C was a crescent (signifying Islam), the X was a Star of David (signifying Judaism) and the T was a crucifix (signifying Christianity). During the performance of the superb One from Achtung baby, they showed translations of the number in various languages, to show that despite all of our cultural differences we should all be united.
Who's to say where the wind will take you
Who's to say what it is will break you
I don't know
Which way the wind will blow