Epic rock 'n' roll from U2

TAMPA - Bono raced around stage belting out hits with his trademark passion, The Edge’s guitar riffs were as moving and powerful as ever and the stage was almost as big a star as the group itself.

The Irish group’s Tampa stop kicked off shortly after 8:30 p.m. with the first notes of “Breathe.” Much to the delight of the estimated crowd of 70,000, U2 took full advantage of The Claw, the 209-ton superstructure of a stage that’s reportedly the largest ever used for a rock show.

Raymond James Stadium was the site of the latest installment of the 360 Degree Tour.

Paramedics had a fairly steady number of calls of people suffering heat-related problems, but the calls dropped off once the sun set, said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade. Only three people had to be taken to local hospitals, he said.

The Tampa Sports Authority handed out water to the concertgoers already at the stadium.

“They’re wonderful,” TSA spokeswoman Barbara Casey said of the fans. “They’re a mellow group, but it’s a hot group.”

U2 tends to inspire passion, and tonight was no exception.

“If we could go to Dublin, we would,” said Rob Bennett, from Brandon, outside the stadium. “Instead, we’re here in Tampa.”

Christine Neil timed her visit here from Scotland around the group’s itinerary.

“I had the tickets booked on the 14th of February of this year for the U2 gig,” she said. “Then I booked my holidays after that. So I had the tickets to the gig before my holiday.”

Jim Hebler waxed philosophical about the group.

“I think that …. especially with what’s been happening in the economy, with the problems that we’re facing with war and you get together with U2, they remind you that it’s all about one humanity. I think the positive energy that they’re going to throw forth in this show is going to be amazing.”

We have lots of photos and videos, for tonight we are going to retreat to the house tomorrow is another chance to share what is the event of the year for Tampa Bay.