U2 remembered the late and great Rosa Parks at the second show in Detroit last night. Dedicating One to the civil rights icon, Bono said that 'because of her quiet dignity and strength, America became a better, changed country.'
When Bono walked around the back of the stage, behind the light curtain, and then poked his head through on Edge's side of the stage, you knew it was going to be a special night at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit.
And within the next couple of hours we had Gloria, Crumbs from Your Table and Bad, each one of those a rarer Vertigo '05 song you hope might just turn up on the night you have tickets - and tonight all three came together.
More than that, we were remembering a truly great woman, someone that Bono mentioned three times in three different songs, someone who lived and died in Detroit. Not only did Bono invoke the civil rights heroine in Pride and Streets but also in One.
'From Rosa Parks in America to Nelson Mandela in Africa,' he announced, as Larry and Adam drove us into Streets, and it was a glorious din of appreciation such as even this tour has rarely heard. And then it was cellphone time with Rosa still on his mind.
'You can do a lot of interesting stuff with a cellphone
Get yourself into trouble
Call your mother
Call the President of the United States
You in Detroit know better than anyone
Rosa died here - lived here
Middle aged woman going home on a bus
Refused to give up her seat for a younger man
Because of her quiet dignity and strength
America became a better changed country
This song is dedicated to the mother of American civil rights movement
Rosa Parks God Bless you in your rest
This is One.'
Rosa Parks of course made history in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, as law dictated. She became a potent symbol of a divided society, igniting a boycott that was one of the first successful demonstrations of the civil liberties movement - and passing away this week, aged 92. Sleep tonight, may your dreams be realised.
If this wasn't reason enough to remember a night in Detroit, there was plenty earlier on with the band seeming fresh and hungry, and eager to keep themselves right up to the mark. Still Haven't Found included a young man onstage who Bono described as having travelled the world and featured a snatch of In A Little While to close.
'OK, we'll learn that for you next time,' added Bono, who was really experimenting with the space of the stage tonight, back behind Larry on the kit for the Sergeant Pepper snippet of Beautiful Day. There was a bit of Marley ('Get up, stand up') in Sunday Bloody Sunday before a funky James Brown moment for 'Detroit City' and then, singing, instead of speechifying, this:
'Written on my head
'Written ony my head
'Written on my head
'Written on my head
'To make a new start
'Jesus Jew Mohammed its true
'All sons of Abraham...'
Bullet too, got a little historical reworking, ending with the unmistakeable lines,
'A man breathes through a saxophone
Outside its America
Outside its America...'
As if to acknowledge we were remembering another decade, Bono mused, 'I know some folks haven't quite forgiven us for putting on the plastic pants in the eighties, but some of us had some great fun in those plastic pants...'
And soon we were into Pride which to the delight of 20,000 people, finished with a little lullaby of MLK for Rosa. Well, we mentioned what happened next already, so let's jump to the encore: First Time, with Adam now standing behind Larry - that was a good place to be watching the show - leading into Wild Horses and Bono singing to both drummer and bassman. And, picking a single red rose from someone in the ellipse, singer and guitarist were in the heart of the audience for With Or Without You, the building shaking with communal passion.
And then another saintly woman recalled, this one in Africa.
'Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by...'
And so the poignant majesty of Crumbs From Your Table gives way to the searing benediction of Bad.