Beautiful Day for U2 fans in Joburg

2011-02-14 08:18

More than 98 000 fans went wild as the lights at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg dimmed and Irish rock band U2 walked into the arena.

David Bowie’s Space Oddity played over the public address system as the band arrived on stage.

Beginning the fifth leg of their 360º Tour, U2 opened the concert with Beautiful Day.

Lead singer Bono told the crowd that it was great to see South Africa being “world class” during the World Cup last year.

“The rest of the world is finally catching up to the fact that this place [South Africa] feels like the future,” he said.

“Thank you for your patience. We told you in 1998 that we’d be back.”

U2’s drummer, Larry Mullen, told the crowd that being in South Africa was for him “as much as winning the World Cup”.

“From where I’m standing, you look like a very attractive crowd,” the band’s bassist, Adam Clayton, told screaming fans at the FNB Stadium.

There were a few unique South African surprises. World-renowned trumpeter Hugh Masekela joined U2 on stage to great applause from the crowd.

Bono shouted “Madiba” as the intro to Pride (In The Name Of Love) started.

Images of former president Nelson Mandela came up on the big screens surrounding the band’s 360º stage, nicknamed The Claw.

Midway through the song a voice recording of Mandela’s speech from the day of his release from prison in 1990 was played.

It was fitting that U2 debuted its world tour in South Africa on the anniversary of Mandela’s first major rally after his release.

Bono made the concert unforgettable for one fan.

During the song Until The End Of The World, Bono pulled a woman on stage.

He lay with his head in her lap while serenading her and walked hand in hand with her around the stage.

U2 kept the crowd entertained with a number of favourites, such as I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Elevation, Where the Streets Have No Name and One.

The show was made even more spectacular with its lighting design.

U2’s 360º Tour stage arrived last week to allow the crew at least six days to erect it.

It holds the world record for the largest concert stage structure to ever tour the world.

The stage was 68m long from leg to leg, and 48m deep. Each leg of The Claw was 45m long.

The tour was called 360º because of the staging and audience configuration it used for the show.

On Friday, U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness, said South Africa was close to breaking the record for the band’s biggest concert with an estimated audience of about 100 000.

The record currently stood at 95 600 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

U2 was playing two shows in South Africa. The 360º Tour was moving to Cape Town.

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