Above: U2 in action at Saturday night’s Sydney show. Image: Instagram / U2
Reports of long queues and wet weather dampening Friday night’s U2 concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground didn’t deter Saturday’s crowd—who enjoyed a spectacular second round of the Irish rockers’ Joshua Tree tour.
After a solid pre-show performance from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, fans were treated to a night of generous, big-hearted, high-energy entertainment from a 43-years-old U2: a band that shows no real sign of slowing down.
Opening with a set of their political and anti-violence songs from the 80s, including Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In the Name of Love) and New Year’s Day, frontman Bono snuck in a message about unconditional love in the middle of I Will Follow: “This is a song about love,” he told his audience, “’If you walk away, I will follow’.”
During a performance of Bad, the band broke into a moving rendition of Waltzing Matilda, and had the crowd light up their phones in tribute to Australia’s bushfire fighters. The gesture was inspired by a chance encounter the band had earlier in the week, when their plane landed in Melbourne and pulled up alongside an aircraft preparing to fly a crew of Victorian brigades north to fight fires in NSW and Queensland. They spent time with the firies, had photos taken together, and told them they were the true heroes.
The crowd was then treated to a complete playing of the Joshua Tree album from start to finish, with Bono riffing preacher-like over the gospel-like intro about having a “co-dependency” on his fellow band members, the Holy Spirit, and his audience.
The aisles filled with dancers not content to sit for anthems like Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You – until security sent them back to their seats.
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Messages of Justice and Compassion
In typical U2 style, the evening was littered with messages about justice, compassion and changing the world. Bono quoted and modified Martin Luther King’s statement that “the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice”, adding, “I don’t believe that any more… I believe we have to bend it” – urging fans to find a cause and support it.
Saturday night’s show concluded with a final set of songs from the ‘90s and 2000s including Elevation, Vertigo, Even Better Than The Real Thing and Beautiful Day.
Bono paid friend to his late friend and INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, with Stuck in a Moment – the song he wrote in the singer’s memory, and the night closed with a mellow and unifying rendition of One.
Unlike Friday with its insistent drizzle, the skies seemed a little more choreographed this time round; it wasn’t until the proverbial curtains closed and concertgoers began pouring out of the SCG to the tune of Never Tear us Apart, that a gentle rain began to fall.