U2 cover Paul Simon and The Who at first London show of ‘Innocence + Experience’ tour

Irish four-piece kick off their six night residency at the O2 Arena with a mammoth two hour set

U2 kicked off the first night of the UK leg of their ‘Innocence + Experience’ tour at London’s O2 Arena last night (October 25).

The Irish four-piece played a mammoth two hour and 20 minute set packed with songs from their 2014 album ‘Songs Of Innocence’ alongside a host of classic singles and tracks from the early part of their career.

Arriving onstage to the sound of Patti Smith‘s ‘People Have The Power’ blaring from the speakers, frontman Bono strutted up a catwalk at the rear of the stage before launching into the ‘The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)’.

The band followed it up with early track ‘The Electric Co.’ which saw the singer throw in a snippet of The Who‘s ‘I Can See For Miles’.

NMEJenn Five/NME

Before long, the band took full advantage of a giant LED screen in the middle of the arena which Bono climbed inside and strutted underneath for a trio of tracks from their recent album.

“Thank you for making us feel at home,” the singer announced before the band played ‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’, which was penned in tribute to his late mother. “For the next few songs I want to take you to our home on the north side of Dublin. My universe went cold the day my mother died at 14. I’ve been trying to fill that hole with music and these three incredible men ever since.”

The band went on to play ‘Cedarwood Road’ and ‘Song For Someone’ which Bono dedicated to his wife, who was watching in the crowd. Pointing to a projection onscreen he said: “So here I am aged 18 in my box bedroom with my brother’s guitar trying to impress a girl called Alison Stewart. I’m still working on that one but she is here tonight.”

The band rattled through a host of classics including ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘Elevation’, ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’ and ‘Mysterious Ways’. During the latter, Bono pulled a female fan onstage who danced with the singer before he handed her an iPhone and asked her to film the crowd for a live telecast during ‘Elevation’.

Despite a recent bike accident preventing the singer from playing his guitar, that didn’t stop him getting behind the piano for a rare outing of ‘Sweetest Thing’ before guitarist The Edge took over and the pair performed ‘Every Breaking Wave’.

Wrapping up their performance with a volley of their biggest hits – ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’, ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’, ‘With Or Without You’, ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘One’ – Bono also paid tribute to the UK’s dedication to charity, ahead of a short cover of Paul Simon‘s ‘Mother And Child Reunion’.

“I know I can talk too much but there is something I need to say,” he told the crowd. “There’s a lot of countries that say a lot and do a lot and you do both. What you are doing to help people across the world in extreme poverty is amazing. This is a great country. That’s part of what makes Great Britain great – its generosity and its inclusiveness.”

The band will continue their six night residency at the O2 Arena tonight (October 26) before their tour moves to Glasgow and Belfast.

U2 played:

‘The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)’
‘The Electric Co.’
‘I Will Follow’
‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’
‘Cedarwood Road’
‘Song For Someone’
‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’
‘Raised By Wolves’
‘Until The End Of The World’
‘The Fly’
‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’
‘Mysterious Ways’
‘Sweetest Thing’
‘Every Breaking Wave’
‘Bullet The Blue Sky’
‘Where The Streets Have No Name’
‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’
‘With Or Without You’
‘City Of Blinding Lights’
‘Beautiful Day’
‘Mother And Child Reunion’