U2 at Glastonbury. The hype. The wait. The sense of history. The feedback! (without thinking I have put two of the band’s former names in to the first line!). When push comes to shove it was probably not the best U2 gig of all time. As a fan I would choose a U2 Tour over seeing them at Glastonbury any time. Having said that, it certainly was a happening. For us watching and listening on the BBC it was a chance to critique every chord, beat and word from our Friday night sofas; it was not for us to be able to review atmosphere or the thud on the chest power levels. For the rain drenched Glastonbury masses I reckon it was one of the gigs of their lives; for U2 one of those honours that gives the band as much of a kick as the crowd. A little wry smile between Bono and Edge at the end suggested that they felt they had winged it at times and from the sofa you could tell that it was a real battle but in the end the number one seeds came through undefeated! This was certainly a unique U2 experience. The rain lashed and Larry hated that, the stage seemed far too small for all Bono’s running, he admitted it was almost too slippery to move at all, the crowd which was not made up of their own fans for the first time in 25 years seemed too far away (Larry was vocal in his htared of that too!) and they were without all the lighting and sound advantages of their Claw. This was U2 as stripped back as it gets. The music had to do the talking.
And...The Edge! Oh my but that man is a guitar hero. In front of that power house rhythm section, that seems good looking (Larry) and pose (Adam) but should never be underestimated, the Edge lacerated the night with guitar riff after guitar riff. It was big and loud and as heavy as anything that had ever been played on this historic stage. It was a consistent onslaught of rock genius. Bono manfully tried to keep up. At times he perhaps over did the little song snippets but this is Bono, from the Greek word Bonoio “to overdo everything.” There were moments during Stay and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For in particular when he never sounded better but I had to listen on radio for while and felt the sound was much stronger there. Outside their Claw and the minute detail of their 360 Tour there were a few loose moments but the heart won out and Vertigo, Beautiful Day, Pride, Sunday Bloody Sunday pounded the ears with rock’s finest tunes. Personal highlights were the earliest songs, I Will Follow and Out Of Control; heavy, raw, sharp, punk!
Most fascinating of all in a U2 set is what Bono is trying to do underneath the main themes. He is always throwing in deeper thread, for those with ears to hear. What would he do at Glastonbury? Two moments were crucial. Firstly a rather shaky version of the old hymn Jerusalem and the second from the same Blake poem, originally known as And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time, he blended a much more effective snippet into Bad. He later spoke about it being a pilgrimage for him though when he looked at the other three they looked back blank he spoke of his companion being Waterboy Mike Scott (“just found God where he’s always been”). That Greek word Bonoio also means “Christian obsessive.”He went on and on about how, never mind Stonehenge, the oldest Christian Abbey in Europe was here in Glastonbury and it is another of those moments when Bono is playing the redeemer. Certainly for the U2 set, it was the spirit of the Abbey in ascendance, particularly the congregational singing on I Still Haven’t Found...! #
(loads of U2 articles on this blog - under U2...Baby Jesus Under The Trash)