Side 1. Side 2. The Joshua Tree 2017. London. Night 2.
'That beat. With Or Without You. Never gets old.' Donal Scannell was at the opening Twickenham show for us on Saturday and he loved it so much he went back again on Sunday. Donal's first U2 show was at Croke Park in Dublin in 1987. Here's what he made of his latest.
'Cigarettes After Sex wafts out over another beautiful evening in Twickenham. Day two of The Joshua Tree Tour in Europe and it's a school night. Most people here have already booked a day off tomorrow and are ready to party.
This tour has such a simple concept but with foundation-rocking results. That concept - The Joshua Tree played live from beginning to end for the first time ever - has driven people to new levels of excitement. Chatting with people on the floor there's a myriad amazing stories about why The Joshua Tree means so much to them. The album has been in the world for some thirty years but it's still throwing up fresh experiences as we learned last night in Twickenham.
Sunday Bloody Sunday cranks the show off and the roar of the crowd is rocket fuel. Then New Year's Day shoots through the stadium like the post punk disco classic it is. It's very funky tonight. The Sunday night social U2 have thrown for us. The bass and drums thump through the ground. Everyone's swaying. Dancing breaks out. The loopy intro into Bad feels like a lost Underworld classic "Our aspiration is that we have a great night no one forgets."' Bono says out loud what we're feeling inside. 'Pride' kicks in and I'm stomping like a twelve year old back at the school disco. Bono's rejigged the words to give added Pride Week poignancy, "Sing/ For the dream of a city which is a home to the world / where no-one is judged by colour or language / by faith or gender / In a time of terror keep us tolerant."
The needle hits the groove for Side 1 of The Joshua Tree. Into Where The Streets Have No Name and blood red light fills our eyes as this stomper builds with a rushing funky drum roll. We erupt in unison. Next the shimmying groove of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. This gig is locked down by the swagger of Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton, awesome pair of in-sync bass brothers. That beat. With or Without You. Never ever gets old. Still feels the same. Time travel is happening on a mass scale here as all 80,000 of us are teleported back to the moment this song entered our lives. Returned to the moment of first transmission. In Ireland our reality changed when With or Without You came out. U2 delivered us a self confidence to think big.
War suits only the few is what Bullet The Blue The Sky pumps out. No one should ever have to put on a helmet and go to war. The fella beside me tells me that he went to his first U2 gig when he was three and hasn't missed a tour since as Running To Stand Still kicks in. Red Hill Mining Town is flooded with a Salvation Army brass band resplendent on the biggest screen in history. It feels like they are here with us. Bono pays tribute to a man shy of the limelight, "You flip the vinyl over and suddenly it's Side 2. There wouldn't be a Side 2 - in fact there wouldn't be a Side 1 - without Brian Eno who is here tonight." Brian blushes as a crowd around him start pointing at him and chanting En-O, En-O, En-O.
In God's Country is also supercharged with stomp tonight, it's Americana-inventing beat pumps us back towards dancing. Bono reaches out to London in gratitude, in tribute to their people and respect for the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in attendance. "London, city of three hundred languages. Classroom of the world, Capital of the world, A whole world inside the M25. London is open. And thank you Mayor Khan for keeping it open."
One Tree Hill and Exit make way way for Mothers Of The Disappeared. All four of U2 are wrapped in deep grooves and the audience hold up thousands of lights, singing in solidarity. Omaima shines again as a bright star tonight. She's a 15 year old Syrian refugee who now lives in a camp in Jordan. Her interview woven into Miss Sarajevo - renamed Miss Syria on this tour - is something I'll never forget. "I want everyone to have dreams," she shares. The vivid colours of the Zaatari Refugee Camp belie the misery of lives wasted in exile. Our complacency is pierced as Omaima's passport photo image, on a giant flag, passes over people's heads around the stadium. Like every U2 show I've been to I walk away inspired, resolved, determined to do more with my time on this planet. I walk home grateful to be alive, grateful for my comforts, grateful to U2 for all they've done.'
Donal Scannell has worked with U2 on different projects for twenty years. His first ever U2 show was The Joshua Tree tour in Dublin's Croke Park in 1987 and he hasn't missed a tour since. @donalscannell