IT WAS all about the music, that “space station” of a stage and celebrity shout outs, when U2 opened their Sydney shows at ANZ Stadium last night.
Oprah was in the house, so was Nicole Kidman, Kanye West and Bob Geldof - who was name checked just before Bono dedicated “Stuck in the Moment” to his late friend Michael Hutchence.
For the past two decades, the Irish band have consistently raised the benchmark for the concert experience, successfully using technology to dazzle their audience and refuel their reputation as stadium rock gods.
No matter how many YouTube clips or photos you have seen of this massive contraption which anchors the myriad video screens, lights and speakers to broadcast the action, you will be in awe of The Claw once inside ANZ Stadium.
All that colour and movement is happening above your head but at ground level, moving bridges and catwalks on what Bono calls a “space station” stage, allows Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr to get closer to fans who have remained steadfastly loyal for 30 years.
Describing the production as intimate - as everyone seems determined to do - is a stretch. There is nothing intimate about a concert in a stadium with 60,000 people.
What makes the U2 360 experience communal, is the music itself.
For all the bells and whistles they employ to thrill you, in the end it is all about the songs.
When you go to a U2 concert, you want to sing and Bono knows that, constructing a set with plenty of crowd karaoke moments and the ubiquitous “wave your mobile phones in the air like you really do care” trick.
“Beautiful Day” is always a triumph, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking” pushes the crowd volume to 11, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” received a Jay Z-assisted twist and the lost single “Magnificent” finally gets its due in the live arena.