U2 last night paid their own tribute to the victims of the Pike River mine disaster. Scott Kara was there.

Bono must have been itching like crazy through those leather pants to get out on stage and sing last night.

It's been seven weeks between tour legs on U2's monster 360-degree tour as U2 stroll on to David Bowie's Space Oddity.

And the first things a pent-up Bono hollers are drawn-out "kia ora" chants as he struts, skips and runs around the circular runway. And kia ora to you too, brother Bono.

Then, with his trademark serenading stance - squat, gesture, grasp the air and sing - they break into Beautiful Day.

It's the first of a string of sing-a-longs. The Irish band's original and raw anthem I Will Follow is next up, then Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, and an all-in fist-raiser in Elevation.

Bono also acknowledges New Zealand's sombre mood and struggles for words to express the band's condolences to the Pike River miners and the people of Greymouth.

So he says, "In Ireland we sing", and launches into I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, followed by the poignant One Tree Hill - written for New Zealander Greg Carroll, Bono's roadie, who died in 1986 - which he dedicated to the "29 lost". As the song plays the names of all the miners are beamed onto the video screen in a touching tribute.

Earlier, support act Jay-Z also paid his respects to the Pike River miners, putting them alongside late hip-hop greats Tu Pac and Notorious BIG.

The big man of rap - who is the hip-hop equivalent of Bono if you like (although the rapper had darker shades when he came on during Sunday Bloody Sunday) - also got the party started with a set including hits Empire State of Mind, Run This Town, and Big Pimpin.

But this was the U2 show and the claw stage is unlike anything to have landed in Aotearoa - it's as if the aliens have set up camp in the middle of Mt Smart Stadium.

The giant claws arc out into the crowd, dwarfing them, but also drawing the masses in and making the set seem immense, yet intimate.

Then there's the full-surround barrel-like video screen that becomes a cylinder like an inside-out kaleidoscope beaming everything from close-ups of the band to visuals of naked writhing bodies.

It's testament to U2's songs that the visual experience and scale of the production don't overshadow the songs because tunes such as Where The Streets Have No Name and City of Bright Lights are powerful and chest-beating.