Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


Neon is great in the snow

12 December 2005
Neon is great in the snow
A great sign in the crowd tonight: 'Bono I married your reflection'. U2 audiences are becoming more creative and surreal as the tour rolls on. 'Can you take the lawn mower? Or the air hostess?' Bono asks Larry, before proceeding to illustrate these particular dance steps. You sense the holiday spirit is in the air.

Well, you'll guess what opened the show and we can do no better than defer, for a sense of atmosphere, to the reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

'Leave it to U2 to make an arena feel intimate. No other band does a better job of connecting with a roomful of 20,000 people. In short order, Vertigo and Elevation upped the intensity several more notches. Video screens underscored the quartet as a democracy, with close-ups of not just the ever-charismatic Bono, but also guitar hero the Edge and the propulsive rhythm section of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. They're in their 40s now, four high school friends from Dublin who threw their arms around the world.'

The city looks cool too. In the deep midwinter, with the Christmas lights jinking in the streets, Cleveland looks like picture post-card stuff.

'Neon is great in the snow,' adds Bono, taking a breath after an ecstatic version of Gloria. 'Twenty five years ago on this very night we played in Cleveland.'

Just a year or two before Gloria itself was written but song and band sound as young as ever tonight. There's another notable anniversary too: just under sixty years ago to the day 'human rights were enshrined in a way that we can never forget.'

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948) - and this year it has come centre-stage every night for millions of U2 fans.
'We'd like to dedicate this song to this day; which is human rights day
across the world...'
And what could be more appropriate than Miss Sarajevo leading into the words of the Declaration itself, scrolling up the screen at the back of the stage. The ghostly faces in the smoke, delivering the words, had a mystical beauty about them and there is added power tonight, the band having just been awarded the 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award for 2005 by Amnesty International. (Read our earlier story here)

When One comes up tonight, the musos and eagle-eyed discern that Edge is using a new guitar on stage. In fact it's the Music Rising special edition, a guitar manufactured in limited edition to raise funds to buy instruments lost by musicians in the New Orleans area during the recent hurricanes. Check out our picture, read more about Music Rising here and get yourself one of the guitars here

The crowd are in fine voice tonight, nowhere more so than behind the stage - whenever any of the band turn round they get the most massive reception. Kudos Cleveland! Tonight's show could not be complete without one more honourable mention of John Lennon, who lost his life 25 years ago and singing Instant Karma, Bono adlibs, 'All we ever wanted was to be
in the rock'n'roll hall of fame.'

For Jim Henke and the his team at the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame here in
Cleveland - we're so proud to be in your city.'

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