'This doesn't feel like a Wednesday night,' says Bono, after Until The End of the World. 'This is a very special occasion. You thought we were an Irish band and we are, you thought we had an Irish crew and we do... but actually this tour is run by Belgians.'
Tonight, first of two consecutive shows at the Stade Roi Boudoin in Brussels, events had a distinctly Belgian flavour. This was where we kicked off the European leg of Vertigo back in the summer of 2005. The set list may be almost unrecognisable from five years ago, but some things never change: 'So the doors opened and we ran, we ran so fast, until we arrived on the first row...'
That was a 2005 show review but any number of these passionate Belgian fans could be posting the same words about tonight. From the Mexican waves an hour before the band came on stage to the crescendo of appreciation all set long, this felt like some kind of homecoming. In a way it was said Bono, asking Edge, Adam and Larry to cite their own favourite Belgians before pointing out that there are more Belgians on the crew on this tour than any other nationality.
'The 360 stage was built in Werchter, then we took it all over the world and so this is in fact the homecoming...'
The stadium took off after that and never came back to earth. No need for a vocal on Still Haven't Found - 60,000 Belgians sang it all alone.
A balmy, late summer evening with a full moon hovering over the stadium ('That is a very beautiful object you have hanging in the Belgian night...') was a perfect setting for both North Star and Mercy. Sixteen shows into this leg of the tour, with - hard to believe - just six to go and the set list keeps evolving. Tonight (for completists) we had three unreleased tracks, six from the eighties, four from the nineties and eleven from the last decade.
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