U2 unveiled their 'space station' in Barcelona tonight and 90,000 Spanish fans gave it lift off.
Arriving on stage at Camp Nou at just gone 10pm local time, the band played 22 songs over two hours and twenty minutes , eliciting an extraordinary reception from passionate Spanish fans.
As well as seven songs from No Line on the Horizon, the band soared through the catalogue returning to many classic tracks that have been missing from the set on recent tours.
The groundbreaking new stage production, designed by Willie Williams and Mark Fisher, was the first thing to hit the audience as they arrived at the venue - its four huge legs stretching across the hallowed home of Barcelona FC and suspending a giant spherical screen delivering crystal clear 360 vision throughout the huge stadium.
'This has been our neighbourhood for the last couple of weeks,' explained Bono, taking a breath after four opening songs from No Line. 'This is where we wanted to build our space station...'
The space station soon made contact with another one, when, to general astonishment, Bono called up the astronauts orbiting planet earth on the International Space Station. They immediately appeared live on the gigantic screens. 'Very nice to hear you,' said one astronaut as the microphone floated around the cabin.
'Commander, can you see Barcelona?' asked Bono.
'Right now the most beautiful sight in our cosmos is the blue planet earth,' came the reply.
Larry, Adam and Edge joined in the conversations with the space travellers, each of whom held out a sheet of paper, creating the phrase 'The Future Needs A Big Kiss' .
Along with some serious chat about the fragile beauty of the earth seen from space, Larry wanted to know if the earth was really round. 'Actually, that's classified...' came the reply. 'Escape yourself and gravity' goes a line in Unknown Caller, and considering this was its live debut it immediately sounded like a classic set to stay in the set for years. Sounded pretty cool hearing an entire stadium rhythmically chanting, 'Restart and re-boot yourself.' If it was a surprise to hear Unforgettable Fire, title track of an album released in 1984, it sounded majestic - of the 22 tracks the band performed we counted selections from eight different albums.
Another striking moment was when Bono dedicated 'Walk On' to Aung San Suu Kyi, democratically elected leader of Burma in 1990 but under house arrest for most of the years since. As the electronic screens weaved lower and elongated spectacularly over the stage, huge images of Aung San Suu Kyi appeared just as dozens of people began walking slowly along the external stage runway, each holding up her mask. 'Let her face be your face.' said Bono, as people all around the stadium began pulling out their own masks and wearing them.
Apart from a stumble during One, the band sounded looked pretty happy to be back on stage and back amongst their audience. It feels as though the new production will do what it was commissioned to and turn a stadium into a club.
'U2 is most at home when we're playing live.' explains Larry in the Tour programme. 'This is the place where our songs live.'
Ok, we haven't mentioned Gaudi, Michael Jackson or Desmond Tutu but that's all we've got time to say for now about a great opening night. We'll be adding more content in the coming hours - meantime, if you were at the show, don't forget to post your photos and videos.