- 20 Nov 15
At the SSE Arena in Belfast tonight, Bono, Adam, Larry and the Edge were in scintillating form, mixing classic U2 hits with tracks from the acclaimed Songs of Innocence. But the ultimate show-stopping moment was their performance of ‘Raise By Wolves’. And relax: there was no riot... Report: Edwin McFee
Not counting their brief, stripped down, Good Friday agreement-endorsing performance at the Waterfront Hall in 1998, it's been all of 18 years since U2 last stepped onto a Belfast stage. Over the intervening decades, the city and the surrounding country, have changed immeasurably – as indeed have music tastes, technology and culture. However, one song remains the same after all this evolution and upheaval, and that's the demonstrable affection in which Northern Ireland holds Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton.
Tonight, in front of a sold-out mixture of locals, globe-trotting U2 acolytes, Game Of Thrones cast members, celebrities and the curious – including this reviewer – the biggest rock band on Earth make their much anticipated return. The arena is in a celebratory mood, even before they have played a single note. And who can blame the band’s Northern fans? It's been a difficult few days for the world, particularly music lovers, as we all try to comprehend the atrocities in Paris: coming together for something positive should be celebrated – and, of course, U2 are more than up to the task of starting the party in style than the vast majority of rock ‘n’ roll pretenders.
Opening the set with a bang, in the form of a clutch of stomping, post punk inflected numbers beginning with 'The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)' and 'I Will Follow,' the band stride along the catwalk like conquering heroes, clearly relishing being up close and personal with the audience. Now seven months into the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour, the production is a well oiled machine and the four-piece effortlessly deliver a master-class in arena rock.