Jun 10 2005
Brussels, BE / King Baudouin Stadium
with Snow Patrol, The Thrills
The European leg of Vertigo '05 opened in style in Brussels tonight.

Before a capacity crowd of 50,000 in Belgium, the band played a blinder of a set from the opening chords of Vertigo to... well... the closing chords of Vertigo two and a quarter hours later.

'I want to introduce someone to you,' said Bono, arriving on the stage to an tumultuous reception. 'I want to introduce Larry Mullen Jnr to you... Adam Clayton to you...The Edge to you...Unos, Dos, Tres....Catorce!'

Until The End of the World made only its second appearence tonight, amongst twenty one songs from six albums stretching from Electric Co from 1979 to All Because of You from 2004. (And - for completists - with lyrical snatches of Please and The Hands That Built America, two other albums got in on the action too.)

And if the Belgians loved it, the singer appeared to reciprocate. 'Come on you little box of chocolates,' he suggested, with a timely cultural reference. 'I'm going to take a bite out of you!'

Early on a helicopter was buzzing the King Baudouin Stadium, evidently filled with passengers who couldn't get a ticket for the show. 'Take a picture of this Mr Helicopter...' They could have too, the clarity of the big screens atop the red and black striped speaker stacks was brilliant, picking out every band member for close attention right to the back of the arena. It was turning into a beautiful night as the summer evening light obstinately refused to fade. No wonder 'Beautiful Day' was completed with a great borrow from George Harrison, 'little darling, here come the sun, it's alright...'

With Brussels dubbed - to widespread satisfaction - 'the capital of Zooropa', it was with the opening chords of City of Blinding Lights that suddenly the stunning curved metal curtain stretching across the entire back of the stage revealed itself as a dazzling video screen. Let's not spoil the anticipation too much for the hundreds of thousands of you who'll be seeing the show this summer (and anyway we've got to save up something to write about for later shows) but suffice to say that the screen is another quantum leap forward for U2's live production.

Miracle Drug was introduced with a dedication to scientists and doctors while Love and Peace was opened by the rhythm section: Larry on floor tom at the tip of one of the two b-stages, Adam driving the track along from the tip of the other catwalk. For fans on the first leg who had not quite been able to make out the symbols of the great Abrahamic religions which feature on Bono's bandana - and which he talks about to open Sunday Bloody Sunday - tonight the symbols were projected in ten foot tall red letters.

'I'd like to dedicate this next song to a great Irishwoman who is here tonight, Mary Robinson,' said Bono as the band segued into Running To Stand Still. 'She has been a fighter for human rights all over the world, a tireless and extraordinary woman.'

So it was all the more poignant when, as with the first leg of the tour, the track ended with the words of the UN Declaration of Human Rights scrolling across the entire stage, the audience breaking into applause.

The sequence of Pride, Streets and One, again offered Bono the chance to rap about the 'journey of equality', in particular the journey of equality of Africans living in poverty - and a twenty year journey 'from the charity of Live Aid to the justice of Live 8'. Soon the stadium was blinking with the lights of tens of thousands of cell phones, many texting their details to sign up to join the Belgian wing of the worldwide movement to Make Poverty History.

An excorciating version of Zoo Station, including some gigantic visuals of the band, marked the first encore while The Fly, accompanied by Mark Pellington's new text-based video ('The secret is yourself'), saw the volume ramped back up to max again. 'Not bad for the first night of the stadium shows,' said Gavin Friday

All Because Of You
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Fully enjoying this, with a bun in the o
I was quite pregnant at this concert. We parked right at the stadium, had no permission, but as soon as they saw me, they okayed it. My two sisters went right up into the heart, I was a bit nervous and stayed where my big belly had enough space. My oldest sister later raved: Bono looked right at me. She never fully recovered from that. Is this where the coexist message was at the large screen?
Beautiful day in Brussels
I remember the whole day perfectly. I had a written psychology exam in the morning. Guess what, I was the first who had finished it and I immediately took a train heading south to Brussels with my best friend. After we took a bite at a local 'restaurant', we went to the gate where we waited for 5 hours or so before we were able to enter. In the meanwhile, I was interviewed by Belgian television and was in prime time on the 7 o'clock news! Which I only found out on Monday when my friends told me, because I thought the interview was really bad :-). So the doors opened and we ran, we ran so far away, until we arrived on the first row of the middle section of the floor. I was exhausted, so I immediately went for some refreshments. One hour later The Thrills walked on stage. But I honestly can't remember anything about it, because I was so excited to be able to see U2 after the 15 years or so I've known them. After The Thrills it was Snow Patrols turn to try and grab my attention. I remember the mexican wave going around the stadium for several minutes. U2 time! Just when I saw the band arriving on stage, a cameraman had the great idea to put himself right before me and I 'elegantly' moved him a bit so I could fully enjoy the march of the Irishmen! The show itself was like a rollercoaster. Everything was breathtaking and before I could realize what had happened, I was on the way out. I had just discovered my miracle drug and it was U2. They've had played my favorite song of all time (New Year's Day) and Bullet The Blue Sky was a great great moment in the show. Me and my friend we didn't talk on the way out, we looked at each other and we knew what we had just witnessed. After the show, we missed our last train and walked around Brussels until we finally had a train around 6 in the morning on the day after. Maybe the time is right, maybe tonight! It was a beautiful day, and I'll never let it get away! See you on September 22n in Brussels again!
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