by Katie Norman, Wales On Sunday
IT was one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the year.
And for 70,000 fans, it delivered on every count.
When U2 rolled into Cardiff last night for the last leg of their European 360 Degree Tour, they blew the audience away.
Taking centre stage and most of the audience's breath away in the Millennium Stadium was the £20m set dubbed The Claw - which towered over the main circular stage.
As the iconic front man Bono emerged last night, clad in black and wearing his trademark sunglasses, the crowd erupted with delight.
The almost capacity 70,000 audience made it a record-breaking attendance for any gig at the stadium, outselling Take That's 64,000 audience earlier this year.
After opening with Breathe, from the new album No Line on the Horizon, the band treated fans to a mix of their many hits from the last three decades and new songs from their latest CD.
Highlights included Beautiful Day, Mysterious Ways, Vertigo, Pride and One, as well as newer stand out songs, Get On Your Boots, Crazy Tonight and Magnificent.
Homage was also paid to The Edge's Welsh roots, with Bono confessing to having once had singing lessons from the guitarist's father, Garvin Evans.
"He told me to look after the consonants and the vowels will look after themselves," Bono told the crowd, who lapped up his every word.
The Edge, whose family were in the Cardiff crowd, received a rapturous applause simply by saying "Cymru Am Byth", before the band launched into I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For while the adoring masses sang along.
Of course, no U2 gig would be complete without a political message of democracy and freedom, and this was no exception.
The band dedicated their tracks Walk On and MLK to imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu gave an uplifting video message before the song One.
Fans hailed the gig as possibly the greatest spectacle seen in the stadium's 10 year history.
Martin Howarth, 25, from Swansea, said: "I've seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the stadium and the Rolling Stones but U2 were much better.
"They get such a mixed crowd because they have been going for so long. Some people knew all the words of the old stuff and others only knew the recent albums.
"You have to give them credit and say they are one of the best live bands in the world.
"I would definitely go back and see them again if they came to Cardiff."
Lloyd James, 24, from Swansea, said: "It was unbelievable. I have never seen a gig like it before.
"The sound was fantastic and the stage looked immense.
"I've been to some pretty special rugby games in the Millennium Stadium before but the atmosphere was something totally different to those.
"It's the best gig Cardiff's ever had."
U2 in numbers
1 One was the third single from the band's 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and was released in 1992. Tensions almost prompted U2 to break up until the group rallied round writing the single.
2 U2 formed in Dublin, Ireland, on September 25, 1976. The band consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr (drums and percussion).
3 Bono's nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
4 Days it took to install the stage, screen, production equipment, lighting rig and speakers for last night's concert.
8 Number of hours to set up the massive video screen for last night's Millennium Stadium show.
11 U2's first single, 11 O'Clock Tick-Tock, was released in May 1980.
12 The cost of the official tour programme is £12.
12 Studio albums: Boy (1980); October (1981); War (1983); The Unforgettable Fire (1984); The Joshua Tree (1987); Rattle and Hum (1988); Achtung Baby (1991); Zooropa (1993); Pop (1997); All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000); How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004); and No Line on the Horizon (2009)
15 European cities the band is visiting with the 360° Tour: Barcelona, Milan, Gothenburg, Zagreb, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Dublin, Chorzow, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, London, Sheffield, Glasgow and Cardiff.
22 Grammy Awards won by the band. Their first was for The Joshua Tree and they are tied with Stevie Wonder as contemporary artists with the most Grammys.
22 The band's standing in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
22 Number of songs on the set list at last week's Wembley gig.
40 Also known as 40 (How Long) is the 10th and final track from War. The song is noted for its live performances, often involving the audience singing along for minutes after the band have left the stage. The lyrics are based on the Bible's Psalm 40.
52 The highest chart position debut album Boy reached in 1980.
60 Approximate weight, in tons, of the stadium video screen.
90 Minutes taken for the first ticket batch for last night's concert to sell out after going on sale on March 20
164The height in feet of last night's set, which was twice as high as the one used by the Rolling Stones when they visited Cardiff in 2006.
180 Number of trucks needed to bring the set into the capital.
360 The 360° Tour features an innovative, wrap-around screens and 360° stage, which should give the audience an unobstructed view from all angles.
360 Estimated number of tour crew members, factoring in drivers and vendors in addition to ground crew.
400 The weight in tons of the set.
1500 Starting price in euros to spend the night in the penthouse suite at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin, owned by Bono and The Edge.
70000 Last night's estimated attendance was the biggest ever for a gig at the Millennium Stadium, beating the 64,000 who watched Take That earlier this summer.
88000 The crowd U2 played to at Wembley on August 14.
95000 The capacity of the Stade de France in Paris, the largest crowd expected on the European tour.
500000 Number of pixels on the expanding video screen at last night's Cardiff concert.
20,000,000 The value in pounds of the set on which the mega band performed.
67,000,000 Results when "U2" is typed into Google.
145,000,000Worldwide album sales.
423,000,000 Band's combined wealth in pounds sterling, as estimated by the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List.
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