17 September 2005
'Happy Birthday BB King'
Birthdays, video shoots, local band onstage. Third night in Toronto is out of control.
What a night in Toronto for the third show. Not only did we open up with City of Blinding Lights - haven't seen that since Boston way back in the Spring - but we ended up with a local Toronto band on stage playing Out of Control. And the reception from the audience tonight, right from the opening shout of 'Larry Mullen Jnr, Hello Hello Vertigo...!' was phenomenal.
'Alright, Night Three' confirms Bono, as if there were lingering doubts, and then, during The Ocean, he recalls The Maple Leaf Bar to big respect. 'We made this album when we were kids 17,18,19...'
The band are as fat and basey and loud as the biggest rock and roll band in the world tonight - and Adam is smiling like he knows it. 'After 20 years we might need more than 20 minutes,' suggests the singer as the heart is a bloom and Beautiful Day segues into Many Rivers To Cross.
'This is for the children's hospital here in town,' explains Bono as Edge opens up Miracle Drug. 'It's dedicated to doctors and nurses ... and the scientists who help them come up with new solutions to old problems.'
As the songs fly by the temperature rises. Larry drives 'Love and Peace or Else' into 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and on into 'Bullet The Blue Sky' with a meditation from Bono on contemporary global conflict.
'We grew up in Ireland, and we grew up with terrorism a hundred miles up the road - but even in Dublin we had problems. Now you look around the world and it's everywhere. The thing about terrorism is that they fundamentally don't believe that people are more important than ideas.. we believe that people are more important than ideas, from Louisiana to Mozambique to Toronto to Sarajevo.'
In Miss Sarajevo Bono summons the spirit of Luciano and every spine is tingled. Maybe it's the arrival of the weekend but boy is it loud tonight, everyone yelling along in every chorus for song after song.
'Wow, that's an incredible sound,' exclaims Bono as Streets reaches a crescendo and the cellphones come winking out of every pocket and shoulderbag. 'We're looking for the Milky Way tonight, lets see what we can find, or some other galaxy.'
And with One who should turn up on stage but one of the people who helped first bring this wonderful piece of music to birth in the first place, local Canadian boy Daniel Lanois, back for his second night on back-up guitar.
No sooner had the band caught their breath than director Lian Lunson - she of the acclaimed Leonard Cohen documentary (I'm Your Man
), premiered in the city earlier this week - is up on stage with a film crew. The band are playing Fast Cars again, only the second live performance ever (Don't laugh!' says Bono) and it is being committed to film. (Who knows what for ? Guess we'll find out soon enough.) The director gets a kiss on the cheek as she takes her crew off stage and it's a time for celebrations - this being the eightieth birthday of the one and only BB King.
'Lets call him at home and wish him Happy Birthday!'
And so the man who was LoveTown with U2 in the decade before last, takes the call to hear 18,000 Canadians sing him Happy Birthday.
'You know how much you mean to us.' says Bono, and we did.
You'd think that was enough excitement for one night, that perhaps with Danny and a film-crew and BB we might have had our quota of the guests on the Vertigo stage tonight. Not quite. Spotting an inviting sign in the crowd ('U2 + a song with our band = a happy crowd'), before we quite know what is happening a local Toronto band are up on stage to perform their own version of Out of Control. With Edge joining Menew (as we discover they are called) on guitar (he could go far), Shade, Key and Nathan Samuel Phillip showed they know how to rock'n'roll - and the locals loved them.
After that we only needed the cool, balming qualities of '40' to send us on our way, chilled and content after a wonderful show.