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Chris High reviews U2 Vertigo tour 2005 on this page

Vertigo Tour
City Of Manchester Stadium
15 June 05

U2 live in concert at Manchester - June 2005

U2 Live In Concert at
Manchester - June 05

U2: The Biggest Rock Band On The Planet. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen Jr. do not stage mere concerts; they manufacture events that encompass virtually every form of music under the sun.

Promoting the zillion selling album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb had already seen U2 take the sell out show around America and now, it was Europe's turn and nobody but nobody in the 56,000 sell out audience could be disappointed with what they got.

Supported by up and coming Scottish band Idlewild - who had a sound reminiscent to The Smiths - and one of the year's hottest acts, Athlete - who got the crowd into the swing with some classily performed numbers of their own and some audience participation that belied their relative inexperience of such vast venues - the scene was set for THE main attraction.

At 8:20, the stadium lights dimmed on a warm summer evening and U2 strolled onto the stage with the backbeat of an unknown fanfare greeting them. Bono waves, sinks to one knee, introduces the band to the two people in the audience who are unlikely to know their names and then shouts "Uno, dos, tres, catorce!" into the mic to introduce the tour-title track "Vertigo" sending the crowd into apoplexy.

The massive sound system sends out a bass, guitar and drum rhythm that would drown out most vocalists; not so Paul Hewson. Bono has the range that could out-fly Concorde in its prime and its clarity and ability to fill the arena is staggering.
For those right at the very back, two vast plasma screens display the proceedings in ultra-clear quality, whilst an enormous metal grid of approximately one-hundred feet high, by 70 feet wide, displays images and lighting effects that are the next stage of concert entertainment personified.

But more of that later!

The hits kept on a coming.

U2 have been around thirty years and have amassed a back-catalogue that is abnormal in its popularity. Yes they have their detractors - but do they really have any equals?

"I Will Follow" and "The Electric Co." from the debut album Boy followed at a pace that increased the fervour to a height of frenzy. Bono in full flight is a sight to behold, whereas The Edge just does what he does so well - jagging out the guitar riffs with aplomb.

"Elevation" started off quietly then exploded into life, with Bono imploring the crowd to 'sing it for us', which they did with gusto and delight.

"New Year's Day" reminded everyone of the unique style that U2 have and of the deftness of touch that their lyrics possess, whereas "Beautiful Day" - on a football pitch and, with this being the theme for ITV's football coverage - makes for mimed kicking scenes of delight from the crowd who are enjoying themselves immensely.

This gig was so well organised, both on and off stage, that the pitch had been sub-divided into areas, number controlled by security. In the very front section there was so much room, a game of five-a-side could take place and people could get to and from toilets, bars and snack counters and not be in fear of losing their place, courtesy of a stamp being applied to the hand that granted re-entry.

No need then for the paltry portions of cheese smuggled in to the ground when survival rations were confiscated at the entrance.
If this is concert organisation of the future, bring it on. It pays to arrive early, if this is all down to U2 and their team. If it's not in their sphere of credit, then hats off to Manchester City Football Club and their ability to get the right people to stage events of this magnitude.

The time had come for the foot to be removed from the pedal just a little, without threatening to dull the intensity of what had been built. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was played with moving sincerity and finished for the band by the crowd, who repeated the title over and over and over again, with much applause from Bono for their efforts.

The new single "The City Of Blinding Lights" saw the massive grid-like backdrop come into its own for the first time, as the City Of Manchester Stadium was bathed in wave upon wave of neon as the quickened trip around various capitols of the world at night, was beamed from the screen. Then came the deliciously moving "When All I Want Is You" which was sung with such grace and emotion that grown men wept ... literally ... or reached for their ladies to embrace. "Miracle Drug" was played to a the rhythm of a heart monitor picking up momentum that might well have matched Larry Mullen Jr's, as he hammered out a faultless tempo that steers and guides the band unerringly from behind.

On this night of many highlights, the first arrives in seeing a 90 foot tall Bono as a ghostly apparition as it appears beside a walking dummy-man of equal proportions. "Sometimes You Can' Make It On Your Own" provided this image, as the singer sang with haunting quality, the song that he dedicated to his late father.

"Love And Peace Or Else" saw Adam Clayton wander upfront, along with Larry Mullen Jr. to strut their stuff before a the throng at the end of the catwalks that took the band into the crowd throughout, only for Bono to take over the percussion to give an impromptu solo of his own, before swapping sunglasses and taking photographs of the audience with their own cameras.

The familiar sound of the opening beats of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" reverberated around and the crowd chant in all of the right places with as much enthusiasm as when the song was first played.

Nothing is going to stop this lot now.

"Bullet The Blue Sky" was quickly followed by possibly the most beautiful of U2's vast number of songs "Running To Stand Still" which Bono dedicated to all poor nations, whilst the Declaration Of Human Rights scrolled behind him in ten-foot high letters.
Fittingly, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and "Where The Streets Have No Name", complete with the flags of every country on earth where poverty is a major problem, scrolled down on the mega-screen and washed the consciences of all those watching in readiness for the upcoming Live 8 extravaganzas to follow on July 2.

Make Poverty History.

Bono took the opportunity here to come up with a further highlight for somebody in the crowd. He swapped his leather jacket bedecked in several flags and badges, for a pennant bearing the motif of the Live 8 movement, with a lucky lady near the front of the catwalk.

An item that she is sure to treasure forever and a day.

Arguably the finest single that U2 have ever released "One" from the magnificent Achtung Baby album, brought the show to an end, with the plasma screens imploring people to text Africa, their name and to send it 80205.

The band retuned, with the plasma screens snowed out and a minute figure of Bono in silhouette in one corner, dressed as a New York cop. The main grid, meanwhile, pulsed with strobes of red and white and green before "Zoostation" exploded forth to be rapidly followed by "The Fly". "With Or Without You" made a rare appearance through this tour, during which Bono danced with a particularly lucky young lady from the audience, although he did seem just a might surprised that she was there at all. What a tune on which to end an encore. Evocative & mellow, the king soft centre in this giant box of chocolates

The reason for the texts? To raise money for the financing of Live 8 mainly, but also to give the chance for audience members to see their names up in ten-foot high white letters being scrolled before their peers. This is what happened as U2 took to the stage again to sing "Yahweh".

There really is nothing quite like it for the egotists amongst the assembled.
'Do you want one more then?' Bono called.

Stupid question really!

'Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce' he called again and "Vertigo" resumed with a hard, pulsing bass and drum beat that could potentially destroy the inner ear and made the stomach churn.

Then, with words "The End" displayed in vivid red lights and at 10:50 pm, U2 were waving their goodbyes and were gone.

U2: Vertigo was not by any means a concert. It even does it an injustice to call it an event. An Experience - a moving, passionate, awe inspiring spectacle - that defied the boundaries of professionalism, that should be a must on any concert goers itinerary for the coming dates, best describes this wondrous show.




U2 Setlist:

Vertigo, I Will Follow, Electric Co, Elevation, New Year's Day, Beautiful Day, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, City Of Blinding Lights, When All I Want Is You, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One, Zoostation, The Fly, With Or Without You, Yahweh, Vertigo (reprise)

Make Poverty History.                 Live 8 - one of the best U2 sites around



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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