U2’s first New York concert since the September 11th attacks was packed with emotion, surprises, and energy. Bono’s voice was raw and cracking, but was still very much up to the task of an impromptu ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, played with a female fan named Ruth pulled from the audience to (ably) assist on guitar and sing the closing verse, including a shout-out to the city — not the first and definitely not the last.
It was quite a night for fans in the pit — Bono had previously pulled a shirtless young gentleman with a Joshua Tree tatooed on his back onstage during ‘Stuck In A Moment…’ and was promptly locked in a tremendous bear hug. Later, a young woman in an I LOVE NY t-shirt would be brought up to dance with Bono during ‘New York’ (obviously a massive crowd pleaser, sporting Bono’s revised lyrics) and wound up getting carried halfway around the heart on his shoulders and back. Martin Luther King, Jr. reappeared on the U2 screen during first set closer ‘Pride,’ in full ZOOTV “let the king sing” form.
Bono made repeated reference to today’s historic events in Ireland — the disarmament of the IRA. “For the first time,” he said in a speech following ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, “I am cheering the men of the IRA.” At the close of his speech, the band struck up the song again with a strangely altered and almost joyful key. Bono’s speech prior to ‘One’ also embraced this event, and also urged New York to remember the plight of Africa — “we’ve seen what happens when one country, Afghanistan, is allowed to implode; imagine a whole continent.” ‘One’ was again accompanied by the names of the airline hijacking victims, scrolled on the screens and projected onto the faces of the audience members.
Even amongst all this solemnity there was still cause for fun and games, including a raucous ‘Out Of Control’ dedicated to the “four callow boys” in whom “megalomania started at an early age,” and a playful shout-out to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, apparently in the audience, during ‘Kite’: “The last of the rock stars / when Sean P. drove the big cars.”
Full setlist: Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Out Of Control, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Stuck In A Moment…, Kite, Angel Of Harlem (full band), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (full band with “Ruth”), Staring At The Sun (acoustic), Bad / 40, Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Bullet The Blue Sky, What’s Going On, New York, One, Peace On Earth / Walk On / Hallelujah.