After a week off stage there's been a real energy about the two shows in Boston and last night there was plenty of variety in the set for the last of seven gigs in the city this year. Linda Laban of The Boston Herald was taken by the experience of seeing the show from within the ellipse, the area right in front of the stage. It's the best spot in the house, she decided but then again, 'Wherever you stood or sat, clearly there was still much to scream about...'
She loved the production extra's too: 'The confetti canon delivers metallic "snow" of perfect flight capability and luminosity; thousands of individual spheres make up the LED daisy chain curtain; cameras trained on the band are manipulated by a modified PlayStation console; and Sun Microsystems provides hookup for the U2 interactive SMS campaign, which lobbies the audience to send text messages to One.org, the poverty relief charity.'
The songs weren't bad either from City of Blinding Lights and Vertigo right through to Yahweh and 40. 'Tech-heads on the backline,' as Linda puts it. 'U2 is all heart on the frontline.'
Well said and great to have Gloria in the set again which was followed by plenty of chat from Bono and lots of laughter. After Beautiful Day he noticed that Father Christmas was down in the ellipse and took the chance to reel off his present list - including 5million people signed up for the One Campaign to Make Poverty History, peace on earth and a shiny new train set for the guitarist.
Original of the Species got some extra special treatment tonight - visuals from the Catherine Owens directed video which premiered on TV a few days ago. Bono finished it, playing unaccompanied on guitar, with some verses from The Beatles' Norwegian Wood. 'In memory of our friend Roy Orbison' he added, before a song in memory of someone closer to home with 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own'.
Sunday Bloody Sunday is 'your song now...America' he announced, once again segueing it at close into a sample of Rock The Casbah from The Clash. And then came Pride... maybe we should get some kind of decibel counter into the shows, just to work out - once and for all - which opening chords of which song really does generate the wildest reception each night. There's a few in contention.
'For Rosa Parks - sing
For Robert and Jack Kennedy - sing
For a dream, that every man is created under God - sing
For Africa - sing....'
Very few rock bands can link the politics and the music so seamlessly that you barely notice the join. 'Take out your phones,' urged Bono, already thinking of answering one of his Christmas gift requests himself. 'Maybe you're just thinking about the Patriots winning the SuperBowl... I'm going to turn the new garden into a Christmas tree.
'Because at the bottom of my Christmas tree is two million people who signed up to make poverty history
We're getting somewhere
You're going to live in the generation that said 'No!'
You can't fix every problem but the ones you can you must..'
And we are into One, which tonight includes a few verses of Orbison's 'She's A Mystery To Me.'
'Thanks for the glasses Roy!'adds Bono, reminding us that apart from their way with a poetic lyric and emotional delivery, the two singers also share a special thing for shades. Adam and Edge are at the top of the ramps for Mysterious Ways and there is something deeply mysterious about the arrival on stage of Santa Claus... shortly to be joined by Elvis. (These Bostonians eh?)
As Bono performed from the front of the main stage, Santa and Elvis danced around the back of the stage to the unrestrained delight of those behind. In a break with Vertigo 05 tradition, no-one is pulled on stage for With or Without You tonight... well, how could anyone follow Santa and Elvis ?
'Don't forget about us!' said the singer as the band went off stage. How could we forget them ? In fact here they are again for a beautiful version of Crumbs From Your Table, a surprise rendition of Instant Karma and a couple of closers that are hard to match - Yahweh and 40.