' I Have a Brother...'

22 Oct 2005
This one is called The Edge, sang Bono, freestyling the lyrics to The First Time during a powerful opening night in Washington DC. No secret that Bono had spent part of the day with the President of the United States and so Africa and the power of people to change history for the good of the poorest countries featured prominently in the first show in Washington.

OK, we're starting at the wrong end of the show this time, but Africa was on our minds from lunch at the Oval Office earlier in the day to the moment 20,000 people took out their cell phones and made their digital voices heard as One arrived.
`Dangerous little devices,' explained Bono. `Call your mother, pay the gas bill... call the Whitehouse.'
No wonder there was such huge applause, there were people in the audience tonight who could remember an earlier tour, in a previous decade, when Bono had regularly called the White House, had called the present incumbents father... and never got past the operator. Not so in 2005.
`I know I'm always going on about Africa, quite understand if you're bored with it - I bore myself
- but guess what? We're here in Washington DC, centre of the universe so to speak...at the start of this tour we asked for 1 million people to sign up for the ONE Campaign...'
And more than a million have signed up and the political pressure from ordinary Americans and Europeans and Asians and Africans has told in 2005, and it isn't about to let up. It's time to thank key players in DATA like Bobby Shriver, Jamie Drummond and Tom Hart.
`Who would have thought this could happen ? Thirty eight countries are getting their debts cancelled and there are 280,000 people on anti retroviral drugs thanks to the AIDS initiative...'
And what has been achieved to date means it is worth dreaming about what can be achieved next, including putting girls in school, putting primary education on the map...it's a little known fact that the single most effective tool in the fight against global poverty is the education of young girls.

But now we're getting carried away too, forgetting that we were present for a very fine show of rock'n'roll and that from City of Blinding Lights onwards there was never any doubt that Bono is in no danger of forgetting about his day job.

`Politics and rock are uneasy bedfellows,' as The Washington Times put it, 'But U2 tries its best to be both politically engaged and bipartisan, a surreal juggling act in the nation's capital....it all starts with the music, and if a live act can crank out a juicier quartet of rockin' selections than U2 did Wednesday to kick off the show, we'd kill to see it. "City of Blinding Lights," "Vertigo," "I Will Follow" and "Electric Co." all rang out before the audience had time to fully appreciate the images on the video screen above the stage featuring all four band mates.'

In other words a rocking opening which never let up. And while not all reviewers appreciate the level of political discussion which takes place in a show like tonights, most reviewers recognise that the politics in the songs invariable makes them still more potent. `Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky performed back to back were far more powerful than any polemic,' concluded The Washington Post. `Particularly when Bono ended the latter by quoting the Civil War anthem When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Ditto for the brilliant Miss Sarajevo on which Bono convincingly sang the operatic part performed in the recorded version by Luciano Pavarotti.'

It was a track that took the band back to another time, to Europe in the 1990's and a city they visited called Sarejevo - in fact a city they linked up with night after night via satellite while its people were living in a warzone. They were the days when U2 had a TV station on the road with them. 'It nearly bankrupted us,' laughed Bono, recalling ZOO TV. `But it was a lot of fun and we did serious stuff with that TV station.
'The reason people wanted to smash Sarajevo,' he mused, was that `It was a great example of different people from different ethnic backgrounds... an act of defiance and surreal fun.'

And so Miss Sarajevo ran into Pride and Still Haven't Found and One, as good a quartet of songs as any band will play in sequence on any tour - in our humble opinion!

`I have a brother, a brother in the Edge
He spends a lot of time looking after me...' so the singer extemporised as The First Time opened and soon we were Stuck In A Moment and thinking of Michael Hutchence, late of INXS, `a good friend of ours, a very warm blooded beautiful singer.'
And a great night was coming to a close with With or Without You getting the whole arena singing their hearts out, All Because of You taking it up a notch further before the psalmic couple of Yahweh and 40 produced a beautiful benediction.


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