'Ground control to Major Tom...' Five shows in and that's all the signal that 90,000 Parisians need to know that the U2 space station is in orbit and the fifth show of the tour is about to begin. The distinctive figure of Larry Mullen Jnr walks along the central platform of the stage and as he starts playing Edge appears from his right, Adam from his left. Bono arrives last, coming 'from a long line of traveling sales people on my mothers side.'
And this show is off, travelling through the Stade de France like loose electricity with four straight songs from 'No Line' and Magnificent ending with Bono slipping into arabic style lullaby - 'we love you, there's nothing you can do' - and segueing into the opening bars of Beautiful Day.
'Thank you for coming out and thank you for giving us a great life,' he explains. 'Thank you for giving us the chance to build this madness, this space station.' Times are tough in France like every place in the world, but 'we believe you are tough enough, smart enough, creative enough and stubborn enough to make the future even better than the past.'
The drum riser takes a spin during 'Still Haven't Found' and for a while each member of the band is playing to a different quarter of the stadium. Moments later and the four of them could be in a Dublin kitchen thirty years ago, standing close together around a 'red guitar on fire'. Desire features snatches of Michael Jackson before Bono reveals that 'we have somebody with us tonight who is about to be the first clown in space.' In A LIttle While goes out to Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque de Soleil, who is set to join the International Space Station later this year.
'A man takes a rocket ship into the skies
He lives on a star that's dying in the night
And follows in the trail, the scatter of light...'
It's the perfect moment for 90,000 people to look up and find that on the huge sphere of screens, the six astronauts from the very same space station are ready for another chat with the band. (Turns out this conversation was recorded earlier as the astronauts are asleep right now.) Edge wants to know if space food is any good. ('Nourishing... but not like mom's home-cooked meals.' ) Adam has noticed that they have iPods and has been wondering if they have 'bass in space'. In fact the astronauts were listening to U2 over dinner just the day before. (The right answer.) The space travellers are wished bon voyage and Unknown Caller takes on another spin with its line about being 'on the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be.'
Is 'Crazy' getting crazier ? This dub version of the upcoming single sets up an irresistible groove and is starting to feel like a summer dance floor hit. The Stade de France was jumping tonight. If that's a track which has taken on a whole new feel in a matter of weeks, the next one is evergreen, despite being written a quarter century ago. It sounded like Bono said 'Tehran Radio' during the opening bars of Sunday Bloody Sunday and as the screens turned green and the farsi script scrolled into view, the stadium erupted in applause and recognition. On this tour it is the people of Iran who are asking 'how long must we sing this song.'
That's enough from us. If you were there tonight, add your own comments on songs or production below. Or if you caught some of it online, tell us what it was like. Here's the set list.