50K Winnipeg U2 Fans Rocked !

Some 50,000 people packed Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg on Sunday for the much-anticipated concert by Irish rock band U2. Check out the updated setlist.

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. stopped in the city as part of their 360-degree world tour.

The unseasonably chilly May evening didn’t deter fans, who cheered, danced and sang along. 

Bono certainly earned his share of that accolade. Sauntering and bounding around his $35 million playground, the black leather-clad singer was the consummate frontman, energizing the crowd with every rock-star gesture, coaxing them to sing along with every soaring chorus — and winning them over by dismissing the unseasonably cool and breezy conditions.

“We don’t feel the cold in Winnipeg,” he assured us. “You’re Canadian; we’re Irish.”

While Bono was the obvious focal point of the night, the rest of the band weren’t playing second fiddle. White-haired (and white-suited) Adam Clayton, like all great bassists, was a study in understated cool, casually strolling and posing while unspooling thick, propulsive lines.

Guitarist The Edge — sporting his trademark skullcap and goatee — was only slightly more animated, focusing his concentration on picking his chiming guitar lines, manipulating them with his vast array of effects and handling backup vocal chores through his headset mic.

And drummer Larry Mullen Jr. — bundled up in a scarf and sweater as he thwacked away on his rotating drum riser — was more Ringo or Charlie than Neil Peart, but efficiently effective at his role: Holding down the centre of the sound (and the centre of the stage) so Bono and Edge can roam where they want and still find their way back.

Winnipegger Paul Martens, who lined up for nearly two days to grab a prime spot on the floor, counted Sunday’s show as his fifth U2 concert.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a band that is able to connect with their audience quite like U2 does, and in such a massive setting as this as well. Yet they seem to somehow bring it down to an intimate level,” he said.

The last time U2 played in Winnipeg was in 1997, at the stadium as part of its PopMart tour.

For the second encore, Bono came out swinging on a microphone that was set inside a glowing red ring and suspended from the rigging. At any other show, it would have been a highlight; here it was only the third or fourth-coolest moment of the night.

Not that anybody complained about it — nor about the fact they skipped their usual closer Moment of Surrender (maybe the group weren’t quite as immune to the cold as they maintained; it was pretty nippy by that point).

By the time they wrapped with With or Without You, they’d supplied 130 minutes of the most powerful, passionate and stylishly presented rock this city has seen for some time. Or is likely to see for some time.