When & Where
First night of two in the Manchester Arena, Friday 19th October 2018.
Unos dos tres catorce… getting vertigo in the house tonight as the band arrive in Manchester for the first of their UK shows. Extraordinary to think that when the band first drove up the M1 from London to play this city - in May 1980 - they'd just written a new song. They played it that night and they played it again tonight - I Will Follow - thirty eight years to the month that it was released as the band's fifth single.
Still in the set and still sounding fresh.
'I was on the outside when you said
You needed me
I was looking at myself
I was blind, I could not see...'
According to U2 fansites, a couple of songs in tonight's set are ready to set hit landmarks for live shows (see below). Is it really the 1000th live performance of Pride this weekend? Here's the full set list from Manchester 1.
In The Press
Elizabeth Aubrey for the NME
'U2 have paid tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack …during the opening night of their UK tour in Manchester. Frontman Bono dedicated the set closer '13 (There is a Light)' to the 22 victims who lost their lives in the May 2017 terrorist attack. "This is a prayer for the safety of your children", Bono said, before the song began. Elsewhere in the show, U2 delivered a politically-tinged set in which Bono called for the UK to unite over Brexit, telling the audience: "We've been touring all across Europe and the resounding message is nobody wants you to leave." He added: "I don't wanna break your heart or your balls but the band has been touring Europe. And whatever you think of it, people love you…People love this United Kingdom. For us it's more than a gold star falling off the flag. Without it the rest of us are just less." The EU and their pro-EU stance was a recurrent theme throughout the 2 hr and 20 minute show with the band projecting a huge flag of the EU and the Union Jack on the giant stage in the middle of the audience during 'Get Out Of Your Own Way' alongside flags of different countries in Europe. A huge backdrop of the EU flag with a heart around one of the stars representing the U.K. was projected on a screen behind Bono as the band then went into 'New Years Day'. Ahead of that track Bono said: "Blessed is the blue in the Europe we still share. Blessed is Manchester, still a great European city." Further political themes saw the band project images of refugees at sea during 'Summer Of Love' and images of extremist far right groups during 'Pride' on their giant stage screen. During the latter, Bono also paid tribute to artists from Manchester including The Stone Roses, Oasis, the late producer Martin Hannett and The Chemical Brothers adding: "thank you for what you have given us". Whilst the "Experience + Innocence" tour brings together the band's albums from 2014 and 2017, this was a career-spanning set which saw the band performing songs from across their long career. '
Dave Simpson in The Guardian 'for all the bells and whistles that turn Even Better Than the Real Thing, Acrobat (played live for the first time on this tour) or the sublime new Get Out of Your Own Way into arena-thrilling whoppers, the show is surprisingly personal and intimate. A series of tiny stages means they're almost as close to their audience as when, billed as "the U2s", they played to nine people at the Hope & Anchor in London in 1979. During Vertigo, played in the round, the Edge's guitar swings so near to the front rows it looks as if he might take someone's head off. Even played in the cage, a stripped-down Stay (Faraway So Close!) is truly lovely….'
U2.com / Zootopia Review
Bigwave from Zootopia was there with some long-time friends and Friday-night pints pals, 'The Spooky Clowns'. For some of them it was their first time at a U2 show
'The minute we walk into the Manchester Arena... yapping stops. Gobs and eyes a bit wider than usual. Don't think they were quite expecting what presents itself within touching distance. The giant screen, the 2 stages either end.. where's the Amps? Where's the PA? Who is the support band? Where do we fucking stand? (We were in GA). Instead of trying to curate each and every moment of the night for them, after sorting them out with a beer, I stand back a few paces and let the magic do its work.
Yep, thats Adam & Edge IN the screen. Which was a (barri)cage just seconds ago! Yep, Charlie Chaplin is The Great Dictator. Yep, thats also a drum kit and a drummer, drumming IN the screen. The Blackout begins. The Brexiteer is bouncing. The Remainer has disappeared down the front cos the opening chords of I Will Follow crack out, (where he remains attached to the front rail for the rest of the night, aged 16 again). The Rock-show virgin and the casual U2 fan both looked happily confused for much of the night, phones constantly in and out of pockets capturing as many moments as possible, whist trying to make sense of what's going on around them. We have hit a lucky night in that this floor space has a bit more room to wander than the recent European shows, which means I can tip them off about some good vantage points as the show progresses, they start getting the hang of it…
I manage to take in some special moments from Manchester 2018 version of the U2 experience. Only feet away from Larry Mullen Jr, I am sure we catch each other's eye, I think a tiny nod, a raised eyebrow! Was that the hint of a smile. I must be drunk. Can't be. I am designated driver. That man can drum like no one else. It's his band in a line next to him. It's his crew that put up this whole show each night, then take it down again and drag it around the World. It's his audience that pay for it. As Bono reminds us. The Spooky Clowns phrase it well just after the show, ˜How fucking close did we get to see U2! - We were even closer to them than we were that covers band in the local boozer last week. How do they do that???!!!'
On The Socials
Tom, 24 from Manchester (@tmjpacker on Instagram) was at his first ever U2 show. Achtung Baby is his favourite album. Right place, right time tonight we think…
"On Friday night I was lucky enough to see U2 for the first time with my uncle and his mate, both who have seen the band countless times. I knew to expect something special but every aspect of the show blew me away. The staging and the experience itself brought so much more to the gig than just the music, which seems to be an increasingly rare trait in modern concerts. I've been to a number of gigs of a similar genre but I've never seen a band perform together with as much cohesion and passion for each other as the U2 guys. You could tell how much they loved performing with each other and it was brilliant to watch"
@diannebourne 'Only 10 mins in at @u2... and it's already the most spectacular gig I've ever seen at @ManchesterArena.'
@markpeterboro. 'Some song landmarks that we should see on the #U2eiTour #setlistgeek - Pride's 1000th performance… Elevatation's 500th performance (expected Dublin 1)…Vertigo's 500th performance…(expected Berlin 2.1) (Data from @u2gigs)'
@smartinick 'So if U2 is playing Pride for the 1000st time today - assuming an average Duration of 4:07, we are Talking About 68 Hours and 36 Minutes of Pride... *holy cow*'
What Did Macphisto / Bono Say?
'Oh Hello. I'm back. Macphisto is BACK!. Although in so many ways I have always been with you… though my job has rarely been easier… look at you … Manc-ey people… you have never been so interconnected, yet you've never been so divided, my little (dis)United Kingdom…"
'Blessed is Manchester. Blessed is Joy Division because love will put us together again.'
Were you in the house tonight ? Post your reviews and add your photos below.