SALT LAKE CITY — For U2 fans, Tuesday was a Beautiful Day (and night) at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Rock icons U2 returned to Salt Lake CIty more than a year after the band had to postpone the start of their North American tour.
“Thank you for coming out. And thank you for your patience,” lead singer Bono told the more than 50,000 fans who attended Tuesday night’s show. Outside Rice-Eccles, dozens of people who didn’t get tickets lined up along the gates to listen and catch glimpses of the band on the giant video screen.
The energized crowd jumped in unison with their fists in the air as U2 opened with “Even Better than the Real Thing” followed by “I Will Follow” off their 1980 debut album Boy.
Bono showed no lingering effects of the back surgery, moving and dancing around the giant stage to fan favorites like “Mysterious Ways,” “Elevation,” “Beautiful Day” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).”
While some things change, “Some things remain the same. Nothing phases this man,” Bono said pointing to The Edge who was outstanding on lead guitar on songs like “Until The End of the World,” “Get On Your Boots” and a great return of “All I Want Is You” to the set list.
U2 did what it does best, mixing music and social awareness. Before the show, the giant LED video screen (which was the most impressive part of the massive stage) scrolled numerous factoids from number of births today, the barrels of oil pumped today, number of cell phones sold today to the number of video games played online. The band even threw in local statistics such as Salt Lake County’s unemployment rate and a running count of how many people had entered Rice-Eccles Stadium (50,000 as of 15 minutes before the show, and climbing).
The band arguably didn’t achieve lift-off until after a quiet duet between Bono and The Edge on “All I Want Is You,” and a quick take on the Bob Dylan-penned “Love Rescue Me.” After the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to the now 70-year-old Dylan – no, he wasn’t there – the show really picked up.
Even though they’ve had numerous smash hits, it’s unlikely the band has a more well-loved song than “Pride.” And even though at 27 it’s likely older than many of the folks who were singing the words in the capacity Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd, it still sounds fresh, vibrant and politically poignant – even in completely conservative Utah.
The show may have gotten too political for some when Bono repeatedly touted the work of Amnesty International and sang “Scarlet” as a full-fledged tribute to recently released Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 20 years as a political detainee. It was a fairly emotional scene as the band played video of the freed woman advocating the importance of individual action, which she said was “louder than any rock band.”
Other music highlights included all-too quick run through of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun,” (which reminded met that I’d worried way too much about the weather for this show. It was absolutely dry, clear and just about perfect) “Zooropa,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “City of Blinding Lights” and “Vertigo.”
The big finale was arguably a last tribute to Dylan when Bono rambled through a verse of “Blowin’ In the Wind,” before segueing into the huge hit “Where The Streets Have No Name.” Interestingly, the band closed on the far less known “Moment of Surrender” from 2009′s “No Line on the Horizon.” Like the rest of the show – even though it wasn’t exactly what you expected – it lived up to the hype. Bono and The Edge head off to LA to be on American Idol on Wednesday night