Patti Smith opened the night with a song of hers that U2 once covered (Dancing Barefoot) and U2 closed the show by inviting her on stage for Instant Karma and then getting everyone to sing her song People Have The Power. Not only that, Patti Smith also played tribute to U2 sampling Vertigo during RNR Nigger. It was one of those memorable shows.
For the first of her two support slots last night, no-one would have guessed that this rock'n'roll legend had never played here before (see our interview here
). Redondo Beach, Free Money, Beneath The Southern Cross, Because the Night...it was a fierce, passionate performance with all the more swagger for having Tom Verlaine on guitar, a man whose band Television proved such inspiration to Edge in the mid-1970's.
You knew this was a pretty unusual support act when you saw at least three members of U2 surreptitiously enjoying her set from within the audience. Rock'n'Roll Nigger and People Have The Power were, of course, familiar to fans who had caught U2 referencing it earlier in the tour and Patti finished a highly charged set with a rousing version of Gloria.
U2 themselves ripped through four songs
straight out before taking a breath, but when they did stop for a moment, it was to thank Patti Smith 'for being a great inspiration to four lads from Dublin twenty five years ago.'
'She is only just starting. Hope we're still around in twenty years time.'
Was it nearly twenty years ago that the New Voices of Freedom came on this same stage with U2 ? Bono recalled that moment from 1987, declaring that they sang to the city then with I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and that now the city must sing back. And so they do, keeping up the volume for Beautiful Day which segues into Sgt Pepper before a beautiful rendition of Original of the Species, which really seems to have locked its place in the show.
'Every conversation with my Dad over the last 10 years before he died would begin with him saying, 'Would you take off those stupid fecking glasses!'' And as he does every night, Bono takes off those glasses before diving deep inside himself to come up with a volcanic rendition of 'Sometimes'.
At the end of One, Bono and Edge perform some Ol' Man River which runs neatly into some chat about about Edge's launch of 'Music Rising'. Twenty thousand people are already thinking that this is one night in their life they are going to remember till they are old and we still haven't reached the End of the World or Mysterious Ways.
'MSG and the Patti Smith Group... come on, you can't get better!' says Bono, and it's a fair point.
'We had the best time in this city this year. We wanna do
something we have never done before to say thank you. This is gonna be interesting.'
And as U2 start playing the John Lennon classic Instant Karma, Patti Smith joins them on stage and the entire venue seems to be entering the moment.
'Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev'ryone come on...'
And how else could the show close except with Bad, a song which has been given new meaning on this tour married to the Patti Smith's own anthem The People Have The Power.
'we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth's revolution
we have the power
People have the power ...'
Last night 20,000 people felt like they did.