Opening Act(s): Stereophonics
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Kite, New York, I Will Follow, Spanish Eyes, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Wake Up Dead Man, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, In A Little While, Happy Birthday-Party Girl, Desire, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Bad, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, One, Walk On.
‘Spanish Eyes’ makes its Elevation Tour debut with a full version of the song performed by the entire band. It’s the first time it has appeared live since May 14, 1992 (in Spain). The crew brings out a birthday cake during Mysterious Ways for The Edge.
It’s another special show tonight, not just because Spanish Eyes makes its debut in the show but because it’s the fortieth birthday of Edge.
In tribute, half the management team troupe out onto the video walls in their customised EDGY t-shirts as a surprise during Mysterious Ways, holding birthday cakes, while the screens themselves shuffle a collectors pack of Edge images down two decades.
Helena Christiansen, Guggi, Gavin Friday and others friends of the band have made the flight to Barcelona to celebrate with Edge and while he may be wearing his red No 7 shirt - tonight he’s definitely No 1.
The show itself turns out to be a winner as the headlines in the Spanish press confirm the following morning: ‘U2 Steals The Hearts of the Catalans’ (AVUI); ‘U2 Triumphs in Barcelona and Makes 18,000 people Vibrate with it’s magic’ (EL PAIS).
‘Happy Birthday The Edge’, shouts Bono, as the band take the stage, and so it turns out. The audience sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, and then Bono introduces Kite in Spanish.
‘This song we’d like to play for you now is a song I think is written about having chidren and I thought I was writing it from my own point of view but tonight I’d like to play it for my father ‘cos he’s very sick.’
He puts on a cowboy hat during a surprise version of Spanish Eyes and when it comes to Sunday Bloody Sunday, he explains, ‘If this song can be a prayer - and all the good ones are - our prayer is that the little glimpse that we have seen of peace in the North of Ireland should stay and grow ‘cos we’re never going back to the violence, we’re never going back to the violence because you’ve seen what it does, so this song can be a prayer and we throw up a prayer to the Kingdom of heaven, ‘No more, no more…’
And specific hopes have universal reach, none more so than this one, something Bono acknowledges at the end of the song: ‘We want peace in this country too.’
If Kite is a song that has come to have new meaning for U2 while they have been on the road, well, In A Little While is taking a similar journey. ‘This next one was a good song, then Joey Ramone fell in love with it and it became a great song, I can’t quite explain it.. ‘Joey Ramone was a big hero of ours and he loved this song and he made it better somehow.’ The Spanish fans are already singing the lyrics and Bono holds out the microphone to them. ‘My, how you’ve grown The Edge,’ he says as the audience sing him Happy Birthday. ‘A man among boys, truly,’ he adds.
Singer and guitarist are together at the point of the heart for Party Girl, which is transformed for the benefit of the party boy. ‘I know a boy, a boy called Edge, that’s The Edge, I’ve known him longer than I haven’t, The Edge.’
And, reviving a tradition from the 1980’s, Bono shakes open a bottle of Champagne and sprays the audience, taking a swig himself, then joined by Edge, then by Larry and Adam.
‘London, Belfast, Barcelona,’ closes Stay, while Bad finds the vocalist detouring into Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True.
‘In the beginning rock’n roll used to be dance music,’ he explains as Streets becomes Mysterious Ways and the girls behind the U2 scenes are suddenly in the spotlight for Edge.
‘She moves with it, they move with it, Karen moves with it, Shaker move with it, Missy move with it, Amanda move with it, Susan move with it…’
And, like all the best birthdays, this one’s over before you know it.
‘I want to thank the Stereophonics for being incredibly great and extraordinarily good, ’ says Bono introducing One. ‘I want to thank you for giving us a great life. Also want to thank you, some of you came out to see Nelson Mandela here in Barcelona, what an extraordinary man, everyone who was there will remember the day until they die. ‘The second prayer of the evening…. for Africa.’
And U2 play Walk On like a prayer.
All images are © El Pais; © Reuters