'Let's flirt with Larry on his birthday,' teased the singer, and that's what the Larry Mullen Band did all night long. It was a special show in Los Angeles as you can tell from these pretty wonderful pictures. The years dropped away and suddenly, for the first time since a kitchen performance in north Dublin in a previous century, U2 became simply The Larry Mullen Band again.
Hello Mama sitas
So Bono welcomed us as we all got Vertigo, but the real celebrations were for the drummer man, the day after his 44th birthday. Even his nightly walk back from the tip of the ellipse to his drum kit after Love and Peace, normally associated with stage-side rapture, was louder and wilder than usual. 'Happy Birthday Larry' read the signs in the crowd and that was the theme of the night.
Sure there were all kinds of stars here - Heather Graham, Salma Hayek, Winona Ryder, Rick Rubin, Charlize Theron, Val Kilmer, Jake Gillenhall, Dennis Hopper, Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott, Lionel Richie - but the brightest star was behind the drum kit. After all, without him, no-one would have been here tonight. And right at the end of the show, after the beautiful benediction of '40', Larry took to the mic, and, alone on stage and wearing Bono's hat, addressed his public.
'Thanks for coming to my birthday party
You can leave your gifts at the door
I'd like to thank Bono, Edge and Adam for being in my backing band.'
There were plenty of other surprises at the Staples Centre tonight as the band returned to LA, six months after the opening of the tour. Edge, it turns out, is from the future - ah, well, actually Bono, we knew that already.
'Some people don't know that Edge is from the future,' he explained, as the guitarist played those haunting four notes which open Miracle Drug. 'From a very different planet in the future...traveled in a time traveling space ship.'
The 'Edge speech' got lots of laughts tonight and by the time Bono had finished this latest version of early U2 mythology, the crowd behind the stage were chanting 'Edge, Edge, Edge...'
It felt like a party, maybe because it was one.
Hanging a US flag over the mic stand for Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bono found a lovely girl from the audience to join him on stage as he sung for the 'sons and daughters of Abraham'.
This gig is flying as we arrive at Bullet, Miss Sarajevo, Pride and Streets. And as Adam and Larry lead us into One, we have the Milky Way of cellphone starlight bang on queue. Edge and Bono introduce an exquisite version of The First Time before the place explodes when the rhythmn section kick in. Soon we're Stuck In A Moment and into With or Without You and before you know it 20,000 people are singing Happy Birthday to Larry.
Hip hip..very hip
The Larry Mullen Band, Los Angeles, October 2005, the Year of our Lord... Edge is on the Sudafed!'
And as the boys party, it's time to get the girls up onstage - in this instance the four girls of the all-girl band EXIT.
'Come up,' says Bono as the musicians arrive on stage. 'Larry would get the girl band on his birthday. Great tradition of girl bands in Los Angeles. They want to sing out of control.'
'I hope you're not shitting me,' he jokes to them. 'Because you don't want to mess with the...'
The sentence does not need completing:Bono is pointing to his t-shirt and we all know who doesn't want to be messed with. But Exit, a one-time U2 tribute band, are no slouches and are soon lighting up the Staples Centre with their own version of Out of Control. Everyone is loving it and wondering if we'll be hearing more from these four girls.
And so to Yahweh and 40 which close a great night of celebration for the Larry Mullen Band.