Vertigo Leg 2: 2005, Europe

Jun
19
2005
London, UK (Twickenham Stadium)
Twickenham Stadiumwith Ash, Idlewild
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It was sweltering at Twickenham for the second night and Bono had some advice.

"Take me to church!" he shouted to 70,000 bikini-clad believers. It was a Sunday, after all and with Twickenham shimmering in an unholy heat haze, Bono offered  an impromptu rendition of a timeless classic: "It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes!" 

All Because of You returned tonight, the singer beating a tambourine to within an inch of its life. "I like the sound of my own voice," he sang. And so did everyone else. Which is just as well. Bono, like the rest of U2, was in combative mood from the start, sparring with a mic stand, before unleashing a bottle of water on the sweating mass below.

The stage on this tour captures the essence of U2: at times, the band crowd around Larry's kit as though they're back at the Half Moon in Putney, the venue just down the road where they played one of their early London gigs 25 years ago to the month. Yet the wall of light behind them matches the wall of sound they build, and takes them up and out to the furthest reaches of the ground.

Bono and Edge treated us to a line or two of the Beatles' 'Blackbird' after Beautiful Day; and in I Still Haven't Found ("we tried it last night and thought we'd do it again"),  Edge's harmonies reminded those with ears to hear that it's not just the front man who can sing.  (Sadly the bloke standing right behind U2.com didn't share the same vocal talent...)

The band also had a surprise waiting tonight, a song that has only made one earlier appearance on the tour. And as Edge gave it a slap on the back and sent it on its way, casual observers had to think for a moment before they recognised 'Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses'. An epic performance and a highlight.

The band clattered through the staples with a renewed urgency for this second show  - City of Blinding Lights, Miracle Drug, Love and Peace, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet the Blue Sky all hitting the spot. But the emotion rose especially during Sometimes. Delivered, as ever, for his "old man Bob who worked in the post office", this is clearly a song that Bono will never just sing: "Don't leave me here alone" he pleaded, a moment of intensely public intimacy and aloneness.

Another song to gain power from a dedication was  Running to Stand Still, for <a href="http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/" target="_blank">Aung San Suu Kyi</a>,  marking  her 60th birthday  - and still in captivity. "Happy birthday to you," sang Bono,  breaking into the chorus of Walk On, a song originally dedicated to this champion of human rights and democracy.

"From the charity of Live Aid to the justice of Live 8, the journey continues!" he declared during Streets, thanking film director Richard Curtis - here tonight - for coining the phrase 'Make Poverty History', along with the "man who got us all into this mess in the first place: brother Bob Geldof."

The stage lights dimmed for One and the crowd sparkled with lighters and mobiles; people turning to stare in wide-eyed wonder as if Christmas had come early. Some who texted for <a href="http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/" target="_blank">Africa</a> were rewarded minutes later when their names arrived up in lights on the big screen.

With or Without You provided the welcome cue for star-struck lovers to dance and sway by the light of the rising mirrorball moon. And the final communal hymn was Yahweh, a singalong to rival Twickenham's usual anthem, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Vertigo sent the believers out on a high, to the four corners of London and beyond, to spread the U2 gospel - of love and peace or else.

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