U2, Elevation 2001, Columbus, Ohio, MAY 7 2001
Twenty four shows into the North American leg of Elevation 2001 and U2 played Columbus, Ohio tonight. And, before the anticipation becomes all too much, let's cut to the chase - Edge wore his No. 3 t-shirt.
This was a show that rocked. According to the local newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch, 'Bono sang as well as he ever has' adding plaintively, 'If only arena rock were played with such skill, conviction, nuance and grace every night, every day would be a beautiful day.'
And another beautiful night for local fans who carried a still wider collection of signs to the stage front including, 'Mmmm, U2' - complete with a picture of Homer Simpson eating the U2 logo - as well as 'U2 Elevate My Soul', a picture of Martin Luther King with the slogan 'Pride:I Have A Dream' and lots of Irish flags and early 'Happy Birthdays' for Bono
'The last time we saw you we were looking at you out of a mirror ball lemon spaceship,' explained Bono, introducing Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, 'The first time we saw you was about 20 years ago this week in a club called the Agora which I think was about the size of a mirror-ball space ship lemon.
'We've been doing some space travelling of our own over the last few years.'
he added, wistfully remembering an earlier mode of tour travel. 'The mirror-ball lemon was a beautiful, psychedelic funny kind of thing - it's nice to be back on earth but I still miss that lemon. This is a song about a friend of ours, Michael Hutchence.'
Kite too, rapidly becoming a massive live favourite, is 'about losing someone' but the unique vibes of Columbus, Ohio have clearly sent Bono wandering down memory lane. 'Twenty years ago coming down the street, twenty years ago me and Edge walking down the town, Columbus Ohio, got a dream, got a rhythm section like no other, twenty years ago I walked down your street, twenty years later we came back to see what we could see...'
Needless to say, this goes down well with the locals, who also raise a huge cheer as a fan in the heart area in front of the stage throws an Irish flag up to the signer who takes it, drapes it over his arm and sings Sunday Bloody Sunday via Get Up Stand Up from Bob Marley.
'How are you doing? Alright?' comes the rhetorical question, 'I'd like to do something that is very, very hard for a singer to do, I'd like to introduce you to the rest of the band.
'On the drums, the man who gave us our first job 20 years ago and has never stopped going on about that fact, Larry Mullen Jnr.
'The first manager of U2, the jazz man, the musical conscience who plays an instrument that holds mysterious powers over women, the poshest member of U2, on the bass, Lord Adam Clayton.
'Who's left? Wearing the No. 3 t-shirt this evening, a card carrying genius, he could have flown the space shuttle but he rode his horse to Columbus, will you welcome - even his mother calls him - The Edge.'
There is further reminiscing as In A Little While is introduced with the story of how the dying Joey Ramone, an early inspiration for U2, lay listening to the song in his hospital room.
'The last song he heard was this, it was a favourite of Joey Ramones, he was an extraordinary poet and he turned a song about a hangover into a gospel song, check it out, our tribute to Joey Ramone.'
Desire is also dedicated to 'any punk rock groups out there' while Stay is lyrically transposed to include New Orleans, London, Belfast and Berlin - with Bono singing into the mobile phone of a female fan. (Wonder if she had the ansamachine on ?)
A tumultous Bad finds the entire arena singing 'How Long to Sing this Song'
which segues into Where the Streets Have No Name and Mysterious Ways with a nod to Marvin Gaye and Sexual Healing while for The Fly Bono grabs a Bible from a fan, holding it against him, then away from him, ending the song pressed against the video screens.
The girl with the phone is back for With Or Without You, this time on stage and dancing with the singer, looks like she's been this way before: 'How many shows now ?' asks Bono,
'Thanks for spending your hard earned on a rock show and thank you for giving us a great life, ' says Bono as show 24 draws to a close. 'Also I want to thank you for following on the Jubilee 2000 campaign. A man from Ohio and he's here tonight, John Kasich, I would like to thank you for making the whole thing bi-partisan and letting me in your door.
'It's an extraordinary thing that in our lifetime, an entire subcontinent is flushed down the toilet, it's not acceptable and I'm actually not going to accept it. People say Americans don't care about what's going on elsewhere in the world - that's bullshit.
'That's where America comes from, poverty, like the Irish people coming over here. You're not all Irish though, some are from Africa...think about it...'
And, thinking about it, Walk On is here, and all that you can't leave behind spray-painted in light across the walls and roof of the Nationwide Arena.
'Thank you Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Ohio, we thank you and to the almighty, thank you..'