Rock music and activism mix at U2 concert, Bono says Martin 'improving'

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Angela Pacienza -- Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) - Calling Prime Minister Paul Martin "a friend" who has improved his record on global aid, Bono continued his fight to end African poverty at a sold-out rock show Monday.

Before an adoring public, the U2 frontman challenged Martin to spend the audience's "money on the poorest of the poor."

"He's a good man and he's been improving. Every time you shout he hears you," said the iconic frontman, decked out in his usual black uniform and sunglasses.

"We look to Canada to lead, not to follow."

It was a softer message than the one Bono delivered in April at a concert in Vancouver. At that show, the Irish rock star chastised Martin for breaking a promise to raise Canada's spending on foreign aid.

Back on stage after a month off their world tour, the band, rounded out by The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., was in fine form Monday, the first of four sold-out shows in Toronto.

Eager to please the frenzied crowd, the band offered a steady flow of new and nostalgic rock anthems.

The approximately 18,000 faithful included musician Daniel Lanois, actor Cuba Gooding Jr., film director Atom Egoyan and singer Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies.

By the concert's mid-point, the band had dipped into its artillery of politically charged songs crying out Love And Peace, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet The Blue Sky.

"What a strange year," declared Bono. "These are strange times to live in London or New York or wherever."

He asked the audience to turn the next song, Miss Sarajevo, into a prayer.

"That we do not become a monster in order to defeat a monster," he said.

The audience obliged, waving their arms in the air in support of their hero's cause.

As the song came to an end, giant screens above the stage listed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Bono hammered home his message by launching into Pride (In The Name Of Love).

"In the name of love! What more in the name of love?" the audience cried along.

At times the audience was singing so loudly even the band seemed impressed.

"Wow," said Bono repeatedly throughout the night.

He also joked about the growing ego of Canada's most populous city.

"Don't get too big for your boots with the film festival and all," he said referring to the Toronto International Film Festival running all week.

"Tonight it's a rock and roll festival."

Bono himself has been making the fest's rounds, hobnobbing at parties and screenings.

Monday's concert launched the third leg of the Vertigo tour. It boasts 50 arena shows in the United States and Canada, with stops in Ottawa on Nov. 25 and Montreal on Nov. 26 and 28.

The band seems to be enjoying the adulation, which seems to only get stronger as the band matures. Unlike some other aging rock bands whose fans show up to concerts only to hear songs of yesteryear, U2's current releases are as satisfying as the early hits.

"This whole band is just getting started," said Bono.

Copyright © 2005 Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

3 Comments

WISH I WAS THEIR TOO SEE THE GUYS IN ACTION AGAIN!... GUTTED! :(

Every time I read about my favorite band's latest concert, I get even more excited about seeing them in Cleveland in December! I've never looked forward to winter until now. Can't wait!!

That was badass. I love Bono....

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 13, 2005 2:32 AM.

U2 in T.O. for tour rehearsal was the previous entry in this blog.

Rep. Green to meet with Bono at U2 concert Sunday is the next entry in this blog.

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