Twenty months after Vertigo '05 kicked off in San Diego, the tour came to a close with an ecstatic performance at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on Saturday. Rocko and the Devils played a crowd-pleasing opening set followed by a blistering hour from Pearl Jam and when the onstage video began highlighting each of the 131 dates of the tour to date... the final date was with us.
With the last, '131. Honolulu.', Edge's familiar chords cracked open the night with City of Blinding Lights and the show was underway. It was a seamless, virtuoso performance as Vertigo gave way to Elevation ('Do you believe in The Edge?' asked Bono - everybody was a believer), I Will Follow to Still Haven't Found. Bono found time to thank Pearl Jam for their set and name-checked Kings of Leon ('We have royalty in the house'), here to see the end of the tour, after opening up the first leg last Spring in North America.
"Thank you for giving us a second chance," he said. "Thank you for hanging around." And special thanks to Edge for 'staying strong'. "For a carbon-based life form, this cat can play," he added, segueing into a particularly stellar moment with the totally unexpected arrival of Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, best described by the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
'One lucky audience member actually had the guts to get up on stage, position himself behind the Edge's keyboard setup, and lead the band through an unexpected and impromptu rendition of the rarely played "Who's Gonna Ride Your White Horses." At song's end, he gleefully ran down the stage right ramp and leapt for joy back into the crowd.'
That was followed by a touching Bono/Edge rendition of The First Time, a soaring 'Sometimes' and this show shot into orbit with the fearsome trilogy of Love and Peace, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky. A little girl called Maddy was the star of 'Sunday' ('a prayer for her generation') while Miss Sarajevo offered special props to Luciano Pavarotti, who first duetted on this song with Bono in the 1990's.
If the first encore - The Fly, Mysterious Ways and With or Without You - wasn't a complete surprise, the second was almost all surprise. First up 'a nice little psychedelic type pop song that none of you have heard before' (that'll be the new single Window in the Skies then) followed by the arrival on stage of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong to join the band on guitar and vocals for 'The Saints Are Coming.'
Next up ("Give it up for Pearl Jam'), it was Eddie Vedder and Mike McReady from Pearl Jam, back onstage to join U2 for an irresistible version of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World - lyrics customized to reflect the campaign to fight global poverty. Pretty special, as the Honolulu Advertiser pointed out: 'The spectacle of Bono and Vedder sharing a spontaneous dance on stage and McReady and the Edge trading soaring solos even had Kid Rock nodding his head and Anthrax's Scott Ian air guitaring with friends in a field-level sound booth.'
As the entire stadium chanted 'We love The Edge' this tour had time for just one more song - 'All I Want Is You.'
Bono left first, then Adam, then Edge with a final flourish and so it was just Larry, first in, back in 1976, and last out on Vertigo '06, thirty years later. 'Thank you for waiting. See you soon.'