It was like they'd never been away. Opening up with a brand new song, one of three in the set, U2 returned to the stage in Torino tonight with a blistering 24-song set. 'It's very good to be back with you, 'said Bono. 'Bellissimo Torino...'
Arriving on stage to a new instrumental track titled 'Return of the Stingray Guitar', Bono was immediately racing the circumference of the huge 360° production, serenading every corner of the capacity audience: 'Torino, Torino...'
From the unmistakeable opening chords of Beautiful Day to the closing benediction of 'Moment of Surrender', two and a quarter hours later, the capacity Italian audience powered the show into orbit.
Mixing up the set list with songs from eight different albums, the band also debuted two more new songs: 'Glastonbury' a driving, guitar-led rock number inspired by the UK summer festival, and an acoustic version of a meditative ballad, 'North Star', described by Bono as ' a love song to the universe'.
Any U2 show is a celebration but this was a special night with the band back on stage and playing live for the first time in nine months. It was a bit of a family occasion.
'You care a lot about family in Italy, right?' asked Bono. 'This band is also a family: the black sheep of the family, Adam Clayton on bass guitar; on the drums, the baby of the band, Larry Mullen Jnr; and The Edge, our middle child... it's his birthday on Sunday.'
Cue 40,000 Italians singing Happy Birthday to Edge.
'And I'm the prodigal son,' continued Bono. 'And I want to thank you for all the love and letters you've sent me in recent months, thanks for that. That's in the past now and I'm very much fit for the future...'
It was a seriously fit performance from band and production tonight, with a dazzling creative makeover in the on-screen visuals complementing the surprises in the set list which also included the rarely performed 'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me', theme tune of the Batman Forever movie and 'Miss Sarajevo', originally written for and performed with Luciano Pavarotti. No-one knows how to sing opera like these people.
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