Opening Act(s): Kelis
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Kite, Gone, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Wake Up Dead Man, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Desire, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Bad-40, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, The Fly. Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You-Love Will Tear Us Apart, One, Walk On.
“ELEVATING THE BLACK COUNTRY”
Words by Jay TomkinsExeterEngland
14 August 2001
After driving up to Weston-super-Mare last night from Exeter, we spent the morning shopping before heading off to Birmingham at about four o’clock. My mate Darren and his brother Matt had left Exeter in the morning and arrived at the NEC in the early afternoon. On our way up Darren called us on our mobile and said that I’ve got the Edge here with me do you want to talk to him I said’ yeah’ at which point he handed the phone to his brother, who did the worst Irish accent I have ever heard, so I knew it was not the Edge. He told me that they had been wandering around for a while but had not seen or met any of the band but had heard them sound checking earlier on.
We arrived at the NEC car park at five forty and parked in S5 after paying the fiver to park. We wander over to the venue to try and find Darren and his brother who it turns out are near the front of the seated queue; we rather cheekily join them, greeted with the usual tuts. The doors opened just after 6.30 and after getting inside the NEC we go straight to the restaurant to get all of us fed and watered. I had fish and chips and Kelda had a curry. I washed mine down with 2 beers.
After tea we had a wonder around the inside venue checking out the merchandise stalls and grabbing a few more beers, well Darren and I did - the designated drivers were Kelda and Matt.
7.30 and the support ‘Kelis’ are on so we head on in to check them out, apart from ‘I hate you so much right now’ at the end of her set none of the four of us knew who the hell they were. They where ok, very loud or is that just me getting old? There must have been about ten people on stage with her and they also did a very bad cover of ‘Sweet Dreams’.
9 o’ clock on the dot and with the house lights still fully on an intro tape of Elevation started to play, next thing we know the band are walking out and picking up their instruments and launching straight into Elevation for real with a great reception from us all. The house lights stayed on for the first three and a half minutes before Bono signs “I Believe, Don’t You …?” before Edge’s guitar chugs twice and the house lights go out to a huge cheer, and the stage lights take over and the song rocks on. Running across the top of the stage are four screens each showing the four band members in close up in black and white, and two larger screens at the side with Bono on them both.
They launch straight into Beautiful Day then straight into Until the End of the World and then to keep the older fans happy they go straight into playing New Year’s Day with us all clapping along to the intro. Bono Talks for the first time after New Year’s Day saying “What? ………Got something going on the Heart here…………I like this place, for one of these kinda places, it feels really small you can see everyone, I can see you, I’m all seeing, I’m Liberty, I’m Bono….This is Kite.” It was a very passionate version which was probably due to Bono’s sick father who was on his death bed at the time. They go straight into Gone afterwards and at its end, using feed back, Edge plays straight into New York where the stage is mainly lit from the front creating silhouettes of the band, well mainly Bono. As the song unfolds Bono goes for a stroll around the Heart where as he does large sheets are dropped to create some great shadows of him moving and throwing shapes.
I will follow straight into Sunday bloody Sunday is up next which for me where the highlights of the show, followed in quick session by Wake up dead man and Stuck in a moment which was nice to here live as it was written about one of my idols Michael Hutchence.
Bono talks to us again afterwards saying”Ah…You would like us to play (In a foreign accent.) ……So Edge….Where’s Larry, Adam….. Alright Pub rock bands in the house. This song for you, we came to Birmingham, if I remember the name of the club it was cedar something, cedar rooms like a tiny club you know? It still feels like we don’t know what where doing , it still feels fresh, it still feels alive, it still feels like we’ve got a lot to prove… I never want that feeling to go away…. Lord….! “Going into an acoustic version of Desire which was played at the front of the Heart.
At the end Bono again gets storytelling saying ” I was sleeping on the floor last night, I was remembering the various times over the various years that I was sleeping on the floor on concrete , on beaches, in fields, under trees and gardens and lots of places I’ve slept over the years……And I was thinking of 1981 when I was sleeping in the van coming up and going down the M1 here, coming up to play in Birmingham, going back down then coming back up then going back down…. Then I remembered something I’d forgotten in a long time, which was being in a van, going to Berlin and that time you could go through the wall, the Berlin wall was up and err….. me myself, Edge, Larry, Adam where asleep in the back of this van in the freezing cold, it was wetter inside than it was outside and there was lots of awful gases coming from Adams arse…(to which we all laughed)
Kind of an extraordinary situation, the doors flew open and these two giant Alsatian dogs jumped in and they started going mental like they had found some drugs, they hadn’t found some drugs they had found Adams extraordinary arse…(Hugh laughter again from the crowd.)
I’ve not thought about that in fifteen years, I think we wrote a tune about it on our second album, not the arse but the going through Berlin, now I’ve got to remember why I’m telling you this oh yeah this is a song we wrote ten years later in Berlin it’s called Stay, Thank you for your patience’ Then going into a fantastic version of stay.
Bad is played next with us all clapping along again to the intro, near the end of the song Bono inserts snippets of ‘The drugs don’t work’ and ‘40’ much to our approval . Where the streets have no name is up next with us all clapping along to the intro again, and as the song gathers momentum the whole arena is lit up with a mass of white lights from the back of the stage much to our amazement.
Straight into Mysterious ways which is given a slight change musically, during the song there are screens that pop up out of the stage showing shadows of ladies dancing in very much a sixties style moving and grooving along to the song.
At the end they go into The Fly and again it given a fresh new heaver sound, during which Bono pulls a girl onto the stage and gives her a hug and has a brief dance before kissing her hand and returning her to the crowd at the front of the heart where she had been, at end of the song Bono runs into one of the pop up screens and pretends to be squashed up against it, like a crushed fly. This ends the set and we are given the usual band go off , we the crowd cheers, clap , and scream and then as with most U2 encores we all start to sing the words from ‘40’, How long must we sing this song?
Not that long because U2 are back out after three minutes and playing Bullet the blue sky and then into With or without you and again we all clap along to the intro, and the end Bono adds a snippet of Love will tear us apart before going off for encore number two, we are only kept for two and a half minutes this time before the boys are back on and playing One, during the opening cords Bono says’ Thanks for coming out y’all Thanks for giving us a great life, wanna thank Kelis for opening up the show, I wanna thank you for following us down the Jubilee road, Jubilee 2000 Thank you for that, we’ll be taking to the streets yes we will…………Not with bottles and guns but we will be taking to the streets , cause were noisy people it’s an honourable place for civil disobedients sometimes……….. This song is a prayer of some kind ……praying for a continent ……..the African continent twenty five million Africans are HIV positive! Song ……Is it getting better or do you feel the same ………ONE.
Followed by the final song of the night Walk on in which Bono thanks us all and gives praise to the Almighty and adds some of Hallelujah to end the set in fine style at eleven o’ clock on the dot.
Tonight’s show was a defiant sell out with no standing or seating space to be seen anywhere in the NEC. I don’t know how or why but I some how felt Bono was not totally into the show which was more than likely due to the fact that his father was on his death bed and Bono had been flying back to Dublin to be with him after every UK show.
After the show we headed back to our car and Kelda drove us home via the M42 and M5 to Western-super-mare where our child Alice was being looked after by Kelda’s parents, we got in at one am.
SET LIST: Intro/Elevation/Beautiful day/Until the end of the world/New years day/Kite/Gone/New York/I will follow/Sunday Bloody Sunday/Wake up dead man/Stuck in a moment you can’t get out of/ Desire/ Stay (far away so close)/Bad/The drugs don’t work/40/Where the streets have no name/Mysterious ways/The fly. ENCORE: Bullet the blue sky/with or without you/Love will tear us apart. ENCORE 2: One/Walk on/Hallelujah.
All images are © Dave Chinery