The waiting is over, the circus is rolling, and the verdict is: wow. After years of planning and months of preparation and practice, U2 got their 360 tour under way in Barcelona last night and stunned a sell-out crowd at Camp Nou with a spectacular show and a performance that perhaps only they could pull off — intimate despite the vastness of its setting.
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Taking to the stage just after 10pm local time, Larry, Bono, the Edge and Adam immediately launched into Breathe from their new album, No Line On The Horizon, followed by the title track from the same record.
From there on in the balmy Catalan evening was pierced with Get On Your Boots, followed by the latest single, Magnificent.
Bono said that the aim of the show was to make “the audience like the fifth member of the band”.
Last night U2 triumphed in annexing the 90,000-strong crowd as Barcelona bounced, sang and danced to Dublin's finest. The much trumpeted Claw, the centrepiece of the show, drew the crowd in and the dedicated few who managed to secure a berth between the inner and outer stages were treated to unrivalled views of the band as they hurtled through their set list.
This offering drew mostly from the last decade, with eight of the 23 tracks drawn from before 2000.
Seven songs from the new record were included, and I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight was a standout. The audience was treated to a dance remix of the track, with Larry Mullen coming to the outer stage to play the bongos.
Returning to the stage for the encore, Bono was dressed in a black jacket fitted with red laser lights across the shoulders, the beams reaching to different corners of the stadium with his every move.
Camp Nou was completely dark, and the only visual accompaniment to Bono's lasers were streaks of light which were directed at, and bounced off, a giant disco ball which descended from the centre of the Claw.
The there was Larry Mullen's rotating drum kit, the bridges that swivelled around between the inner and outer stages like the hands of a clock, and the sheer sight of the Claw itself.
It took up almost half the length of the famed pitch, its legs reached to each sideline and its spear like centre even managed to peer out from the peaks of one of Europe's biggest stadiums.
It first creaked to life for Snow Patrol, the vast wraparound screen projecting the Northern Irish band's hits including Chocolate and Take Back The City, to a relatively small crowd which mushroomed as darkness fell.
“I bet everybody is wondering what the hell this is — me too,” lead singer Gary Lightbody said of the Claw.
Then it was U2's turn and the Claw unleashed itself in a blizzard of light and noise.
Walk On was dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy prisoner, as it will be every night on this tour.
Thousands of fans donned masks of Suu Kyi, as the band had requested. U2 play again in Barcelona on Saturday.