Just like in Brussels, the first Vertigo show in Germany starts a few minutes late. While it seemed the crew were ready, the band weren’t: Stuart, Dallas and Bono’s new guitar tech Philip Docherty were seen replacing and altering set lists twice. For the first time, the ‘Everyone’ piece was not played after The Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake up’.
The Gelsenkirchen crowd, who were a little subdued during the long wait from doors open to show time, turned out to be quite the match for U2’s current gung-ho ‘take no prisoners’ incarnation.
Two dates into the European leg, this stadium show has gone into overdrive – the band are playing aggressively, relentlessly and the German audience gave them plenty in return. This show, though quite similar to the one in Brussels, turned out twice as good.
Bono thanked German chancellor Gerhard Schröder for his commitment to debt relief (‘we’ve got to thank politicians when they do what we tell them to’) and then messed up the few lines of German concerning ‘making poverty history’ that had been prepared for him to read out. Earlier in the week, on stage in Brussels, the singer had apologised to his band and audience for going ‘on and on and on and on’. This time, in the wake of victory, he was deservedly unapologetic.
A major difference between this tour and Elevation appears to be the balance within the group. Bono seems to rely more on Adam and Larry (both of whom seem to venture out on the catwalk and b-stage more) than The Edge – who sticks to the main stage a lot more.
In Gelsenkirchen, the bass player earned a heartfelt ‘Adam Clayton, I love you’ from Bono. The Edge, after a well played solo, made do with a pat on the shoulder.
Larry quite literally supported Bono during ‘Yahweh’, as drummer and singer stood back to back, leaning against each other.
‘With or without you’, thrown in at the last minute, appealed to the couples on the crowd while ‘Party Girl’ was a surprise, to celebrate the breakthrough in debt relief. Then U2 played another thundering encore of ‘Vertigo’, leaving us all gasping for breath.
This dense, masculine, rather ‘safe’ selection of songs does exactly what it’s meant to do, but the show desperately needs some air. An acoustic set would do just that, or the addition of a few more gentle tunes like ‘Electrical Storm’ or ‘A Man and A Woman’.
Seconds after coming off stage, the band, clad in dressing gowns, were whisked off by car, destination unknown.