Review: U2, Kanye West, at Mt Smart Stadium

By Russell Baillie

They might have not played here for 13 years, postponed for another 8 months and then got delayed coming on stage because of the rain which cleared on cue (thanks to the man upstairs, possibly).

But U2 more than made up for their tardiness with a riveting, affecting and boldly passionate show before the first of two sold-out Mt Smart stadium crowds.

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It was one which neatly binded the songs of their 21st century albums to their breakthrough days of the 80s, leaving their often confusing, intervening decade largely untouched. That worked a treat, whether it was leaping back in time to early single I Will Follow or causing happy pandemonium - complete with a visual message about the plight of Africa - during The Streets Have No Name.

It was a show to remind that whatever you think of Bono and his campaigning ways, the man sure can sing - among the night's most affecting highlights was his ode to his late father Bob, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. While later in Miss Sarajevo he easily ascended the original's Pavarotti bit.

And he and band figured out some canny ways of connecting to their NZ fans. There were rewritten lines in Beautiful Day referencing the long of the long white cloud and aroha. That was followed by One Tree Hill with a tribute to late Kiwi U2 crew member Greg Carroll who inspired what is still a grand song, while the light show glowed with koru patterns. And one of the other lyrics songs that Bono magpied into U2's lyrics was Four Seasons in One Day, though there were snatches of the Beatles, the Clash and others throughout.

Also sampling up a storm was opening act hip-hop megastar Kanye West who did his best in his early set battling against the elements and a certain lack of projection into the arena. But he departed grateful, saying it had been the warmest welcome he had got on his U2 excursion Down Under.

The U2 set did hit its own damp patch mid set with Bono's bit of blindfolded political street theatre out on the extended ramps in the aftermath Bullet the Blue Sky. But the performance soon regained an energy which sustained and inspired all the way through to the encores.

For the most part, it was a performance that managed to do the impossible of a stadium show - marry real emotional punch to extravagant gesture.

Brilliant.

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