U2, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ Adelaide Oval, Adelaide 19/11/2019

Talking about the greatest shows on Earth you start thinking about the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Fleetwood Mac but joining that elite company is no doubt U2. There is such an affinity with Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam with Australia. The Joshua Tree is no doubt one of the career shaping albums that has stood the test of time resonating so strong now as it ever has done before and now it was Adelaide’s turn. The weather couldn’t be any better with Adelaide Oval hosting this massive outdoor arena show.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds definitely lifts the bar for what one would consider to be a “support act” and interestingly we’ll get to see his brother Liam play in four weeks’ time. Casually strolling to the stage there seemed to be little fanfare as the screen projection flashed “The Famous Show On Earth”. Opening with Holy Mountain the sound was a little boomy but got better as the show went on. It’s A Beautiful World, This Is The Place and Rattling Rose followed and it seems as if Noel has carved out a distinct sound now focusing more on recent album Who Built The Moon? and nothing from his two previous releases Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Chasing Yesterday. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed his set. Noel asked the crowd if there were any Oasis fans here before roaring in to Black Star Dancing.

Noel again enquired about his new single and whether everyone had rushed to stream the fuck out of Wandering Star because it is genius. Later he quipped that he thought he was amazing and that he liked to indulge himself and that the next part of his set was for the crowd featuring a string of Oasis classics. Little By Little and Stop Crying Your Heart Out were fantastic then saying you fuckers didn’t help me out otherwise those big speakers would be switched on as an inference to the success of Wonderwall. He had another crack saying Adele-aide are you going to sing thinking the crowd was reserved for an Adele concert. Don’t Look Back In Anger was a perfect sing-a-long moment and Noel thanked the crowd for stopping by when they could be buying t-shirts and booze finishing on a Beatles rendition of All You Need Is Love.

The stage production for U2 can only be described as epic beyond all proportions with a massive custom built screen spanning the entire screen which was painted to look like a golden piece of cardboard featuring a silver Joshua Tree which extends above the screen and becomes the visual centrepiece of the show. The lights started to fall on the classic Waterboys song The Whole Of The Moon which meant they were only literally minutes away. It was a heroes like welcome when the band took to the stage down the catwalk on to the B stage with drummer Larry Mullen Jr leading the way starting that iconic drum beat of Sunday Bloody Sunday then being joined by his bandmates. It was awesome for the band to get so up close and personal hearing them play I Will Follow, New Year’s Day and Pride (In The Name Of Love). The band were sounding great but the real excitement when the full production took over for The Joshua Tree which was played start to end in full. The first three songs are some of the best songs ever written with Where The Streets Have No, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking and With Or Without You. Bono said that this was the only place they wanted to be on this night and sorry for taking so long to come back.

Listening to this classic album in full live gives a totally fresh perspective on how good it actually is. I really liked the intensity of Bullet The Blue Sky and Running To Stand Still. On screen the projection featured a tribute to the wonderful work of the Salvation Army during Red Hill Mining Town. What is considered to be the Side B of The Joshua Tree does not tail off like some albums do with some very powerful messaging in Exit and Mothers Of The Disappeared. Bono thanked the crowd for listening to The Joshua Tree followed by what literally happened which was Angel Of Harlem.

Holy smokes the encore was loaded with awesomeness starting with Elevation. Did anyone notice the word Adelaide on the back of Larry’s shirt? Back to back hits Vertigo (complete with a snippet of It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll) and Even Better Than The Real Thing. Beautiful Day was such a powerful and emotive moment in the set celebrating all the beautiful reasons to be alive and that there is hope. Ultraviolet (Light My Way) was dedicated to their partners, all the women in the U2 crew, staging, production above and below the stage, Live Nation, to all the sisters, mothers and daughters out there with a visual roll call and tribute running on the screen of all the pioneering and trail blazing women who have achieved so many great things. Cathy Freeman drew plenty of cheers. There was a powerful message shown on screen saying “Freedom is not a crime for women”. The theme of connectedness continued on Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way. Bono requested to sing the next one in the dark then saying “from our little island to your big island we are connected as one” encouraging people to work together to find solutions to complex problems such as the NSW fires. One was the last song to unite the crowd before bringing to a close what was one extraordinary concert. Finger crossed that this isn’t the last time we’ll see U2 in Adelaide.

Live Review By Rob Lyon

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