Aug 11 2001
Manchester, GB / MEN
with Kelis
'Just the bang and the clatter, I wish Ian Curtis was still around.'

U2 are back in England for the first time since February and the Astoria, the first time on tour since 1997 and the first time in Manchester for ten years.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis is here, Damien Gough  of Badly Drawn Boy and Jason McAteer, one of Ireland's finest football players.

'Nice one,' says Bono after Elevation and before introducing the 'first confession, Jesus, this is Judas..' It's Until The End of the World which gives way to Discotheque and Staring at the Sun, intriguingly interspersed with a burst of an old Christmas carol,'Come on all you faithful...'

'Well,' thanks for coming out,' says the singer, to a capacity audience which has broken box-office records for the MEN. 'Just having one of those kind of years, it's just a great time, unusual for rock bands perhaps - we know we're having a great time as opposed to not knowing and finding out later - thank you.'

'Came here 20 years ago or so, we played a club called The Beach Club I think, it was upstairs, a small room there was 11 people in Manchester turned out for us on that night and we felt right then like it was really going off.. 'Nothing's really changed we still have delusions of grandeur, megalomania started at a very early age. Thank you for your patience over the years. 'Came here as a kid, now I have a kid, Larry has a kid who's here, Elvis is here his first time to see a U2 show.'

'Well, this I want to sing for my father, it feels like he wrote it, I thought I was writing it for my kids but I think he wrote it for me and he's only got a few days left in this world, this is for Bob Hewson...'

And after Kite, Edge is 'ringing those bells' the same way he was twenty years ago and Bono is dreaming dreams and having visions. 'I see cars parked by a road, I see a boy 14 years old, I see a future in minutes and seconds, I still wonder what would have happened.'

The singer takes an Irish flag from a fan and drapes it across the catwalk, going into Johnny Was and Get Up, Stand Up: 'Stand up for your rights, but never take a life, never take a life.'

'So, if a song could be a prayer, our prayer is that this week brave people make brave decisions and will not let a little island across a little channel go back to war but instead live in peace. That is our prayer. Compromise is not such a bad word after all.'

Stuck In A Moment is introduced with The Beatles' In My Life, and then comes In A Little While. 'How we doing?  Nice one. We've set ourselves up for a big fall but it doesn't feel like one. 'This is a good song that Joey Ramone turned into a great song just by liking it, it's a funny thing but it's true.'

It's Edge who sings the last lines of the song and, at the end, Bono says Happy Birthday to his guitarist, explaining to everyone else, 'He's had three very special days that in the northside of Dublin we called fiestas.'

Soon the singer introduces the players and then it is time for a song 'about blind ambition, it helps, it helps when you don't know...'

Which gives way to a moments reflection on Manchester and Frank Sinatra and Joy Division - rock'n roll knows no boundaries.

'Well, I think it was 18 years old or 19 and we came to Manchester to meet a producer called Martin Hannett who produced Joy Division and we were gonna ask him to produce a record for us and we went into a studio. 'I can't remember the name, maybe Strawberry something and we met Joy Division which later became New Order and were one of the most important groups ever on the planet, certainly to us - and yes, it's true we did rob a few bits and pieces here and there - but the last thing we robbed was an interest in...'

Bono notices everyone is listening: 'I just said robbed and they all got quiet, that's interesting...'

'But the last thing we robbed was an interest in Frank Sinatra. I went to those Strawberry Studios and Ian Curtis, who's no longer with us, was there with a pile of Frank Sinatra albums. 'We just came out of - it wasn't really punk I don't know what it was - but you weren't listening to Frank Sinatra that was for sure. 'We thought these people were all off their nuts we didn't realise just what they were on to, so years later in Berlin in a studio called Hansa we started this tune that was our tribute to Frank Sinatra - with a little drop of Ian Curtis.'

And, joined by the massed ranks of Manchester, U2 play Stay, which finishes with 'London, Belfast, Manchester....it's 3 o'clock in the morning, it's quiet in Manchester town...just the bang and the clatter, I wish Ian Curtis was still around.'

Tonight, in another nod to local heroes and long time friends, Bad is flavoured with a touch of Oasis' Champagne Supernova - 'Where were you when we were getting high?  - and then comes Mysterious Ways and The Fly.

'I go out into a sports hall, lights go down , whole scene changes, light and motion, turn our light on emotion, it's hard to walk away.'

With Or Without You also brings a local musical reference, Bono breaking in to Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart before a great evening, tailor made for Manchester, comes to a close.

'Thanks a lot of giving us a great life, thank you very much. 'I want to thank Kelis for opening the show, thank you for coming out far and wide, thank you..thank you for following us down the Jubilee Road, Jubilee 2000 drop the debt stuff, it was really important, it's not over we've still got a lot to do, after Genoa. 'I believe it's right to take to the streets and civil disobedience has a noble place in history but the not the stupid shit, you know what I'm talking about.'

Which brings the singer back to prayer: 'The second prayer of the evening, for Africa, the whole continent is getting flushed down the toilet..'

And so U2 play One ('I want to play this for Noel Gallagher and Sarah...'), before Bono and Edge perform Wake Up Dead Man together and then Walk On.

U2 - Kite (Live From The FleetCenter, Boston, MA, USA / 2001)
You must be a logged-in member to add comments.