HENRY DILTZ, AFP/Getty Images When Rhode Island's Newport Jazz Festival…
- Posted on Jun 24th 2011 7:15PM by Stephen Dowling
Joel Ryan, AP/PA
So it could be said U2's journey to this Friday night on the Pyramid Stage was music's most long-winded wait between sets. With the Friday heavens opening, U2's set had the makings of a Radiohead in 97 moment, that communal connection amid the mud and the raindrops. This despite he threats from groups opposed to austerity measures in the UK planning protests against the band's alleged tax-dodging -- allegations the band's camp vehemently deny.
The band walked on to drizzle, the lights blood red, and launch into 'Even Better Than the Real Thing,' off their 1991 album 'Achtung Baby.' There's that U2 timing again -- the band announced a special edition to mark the record's 20th anniversary, so it can't be a mistake they rely heavily on the album at the start of the set. Kerching!
"Thank you for waiting, thank you Michael Eavis," Bono said before 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' and then pointed the microphone to the soaked ranks in ponchos and parkas, the band quietening to a whisper as Glastonbury sang back the chorus. He even appropriated Primal Scream's 'Movin' On Up' to bring the song to a close.
Bono asked the Glastonbury crowd a question -- if a man 200 miles above them could talk to them know, what would he say? Cue a live link up to the International Space Station circling above, and Commander Mark Kelly holding up words to the camera. "I'm looking forward to coming home, tell my wife I love her very much. She knows," Kelly deadpanned to the camera before floating off. One small quip for Bowie fans, one giant platform to launch 'Beautiful Day.'
The black-clad Bono strode out time and again to the platform built out on the lip of the stage open to the elements, and there was that timing again -- a halfway spike in the energy levels with an up-tempo one, two, three of 'Elevation,' 'Get on Your Boots' and 'Vertigo.'
This being U2, of course it was self-important and occasionally blustering, but this is not a recent phenomenon. U2 were not playing a secret show on the margins like Radiohead, allowing them to indulge in some wilful experimentation. This was headlining stuff, a year later than promised. Even a misjudged version of Coldplay's 'Yellow' -- veering too close to cheese -- couldn't derail an unqualified success, one that ended with first single 'Out of Control.'
Better late than never, boys.