U2 wraps world tour with Honolulu blowout

Reuters / Billboard Magazine by Jonathan Cohen (2007-01-20)

HONOLULU (Billboard) – U2 wrapped its box-office busting Vertigo world tour in front of a packed house at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium Saturday, with a show that featured guest turns from members of opening act Pearl Jam as well as Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong.

Several members of the audience were pulled onto the stage as well, including one lucky man who got to play piano with the band during “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.”

The 24-song set began as usual with “City of Blinding Lights,” from the group’s 2004 album “How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” as Bono ran the gamut of the heart-shaped stage extension waving the American flag. Other early set highlights included “I Will Follow,” “Angel of Harlem” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” during which a little girl sat with Bono atop the stage monitors.

U2 guitarist the Edge was saluted on a number of occasions, with Bono crediting his “grace under pressure, faith and perseverance.” Although no formal announcement was ever made, it is understood U2 postponed several Vertigo dates from spring to this fall while a member of the Edge’s immediate family underwent treatment for a life-threatening disease.

The main set wound down with a trio of smash hits: “(Pride) In the Name of Love,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “One,” with fans encouraged to hold their cell phone aloft during the latter as a show of solidarity for the Make Poverty History campaign.

Armstrong was a surprise guest for a cover of Scottish punk band the Skis’ “The Saints Are Coming,” which U2 and Green Day recorded as a charity single for the Music Rising initiative. Armstrong had performed the track live with the band only once before.

Afterward, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and guitarist Mike McCready joined U2 for a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” which they debuted, with new lyrics, last month during an anti-poverty benefit in Australia. The show closed with a subdued rendering of “All I Want Is You,” as drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. sent the crowd home with a smile: “See you soon.”

Soon will likely be in 2008, U2 manager Paul McGuinness told Billboard.com. U2 will first regroup in the studio, with an eye on releasing its next album by late 2007. And although final numbers are not yet in, the Vertigo tour is already the second-highest grossing trek of all time behind the Rolling Stones’ “A Bigger Bang,” with its total expected to exceed $377 million.

In a rare opening slot, Pearl Jam charged through a 13-song set heavy on favorites like “Corduroy,” “Better Man,” “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” “Even Flow” and “Alive.” The Seattle band wrapped its performance with a frenzy-inducing cover of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”

A number of Hollywood celebrities were on hand for the show, including Jeremy Piven, Mira Sorvino and Alyssa Milano.


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