U2, Kanye West at Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday night

By Rebecca Barry Hill

Of course we'd be amazed. Of course we'd get so swept up in the moment we'd text our names into the ether because Bono told us to.

Of course he'd charm us in his tailored Warriors jacket and sunglasses that are almost as iconic as he is.

Yep, emotion was running high before the band had even arrived, but it wasn't always pretty.

To all the losers who sneered or complained as we squeezed politely past: I don't care if you paid $500 and stood there for six hours. That's not very Bono of you.

An incendiary, optimistic Kanye West also struggled to loosen up this possessive brigade, although he was overpowered by bass in certain parts of the stadium.

But for all its expectations - undoubtedly magnified by the fact most of us missed out on tickets to the first gig - U2 delivered a knockout second show.

Everything was big: the stage set-up, the magic of The Edge's guitar riffs and, eventually, the sense of community in the air.

U2 have as much respect for their material as their fans.

This was a crowd-pleasing set that traversed only their most electric songs - Vertigo, Elevation, The Streets Have No Name, Angel of Harlem, With Or Without You, One Tree Hill, One - all performed with a sensitivity and clarity you might not expect from a stadium band.

>>Watch U2 perform One Tree Hill at Saturday's concert
>>Pictures: U2 in Auckland

But they still managed to have fun with the familiar, slipping in a few sneaky lines from Crowded House's Four Seasons in One Day, and turning Beautiful Day into New Zealand's new tourism soundtrack with references from Cape Reinga to the Fiords.

Bono's voice soared faultlessly, capturing hearts first with song, second with (we knew it was coming) politics. Even those with a small amount of Irish blood felt proud as the band waved their flag and honoured their country.

When Bono did get serious, he tempered it by borrowing his late father's self-deprecating wit. "He'd tell me, 'Take those [expletive] sunglasses off'," he chortled, before an affecting performance of his tribute to his dad, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.

And when red light blanketed the 40,000 fans and he burst into Pavarotti's part in Miss Sarajevo, you almost felt a religious experience coming on.

Even after two generous encores, no one wanted to say goodbye to U2. Best of all, the feeling seemed mutual.

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