Four stars

There was a moment early on in U2’s lengthy set when Larry Mullen started the familiar drumbeat of Sunday, Bloody Sunday, followed by the band marching in funereal fashion along the walkway that stretched into the crowd.

It was stark and powerful, displaying a real heart beating underneath this creative arena display.

Although not the stadium spectacular that has become U2’s bread and butter in recent years, they haven’t exactly been cost-cutting.

While the opening was as close to garage band as they’re ever likely to get, with Bono punching the air and leaping around to a no frills quartet highlighted by a snarling I Will Follow, there was still plenty of clever trickery here, mostly involving a giant video wall.


One magnificent segment saw the singer, now sporting a rather dubious dye job on his hair, up on a platform with animated images of his old street washing over him, accompanying the impressive blues thrash of Cedarwood Road.

That was the pick of material from last year’s freebie gone badly wrong, Songs of Innocence, and not all the cuts held up well - Iris sounded uncomfortably like a retreat to past glories, for instance.

The gimmicks didn’t all work, either. A garish bombardment of flashing slogans felt like a car commercial, and while the show never got too self-indulgent, there was the odd groan-worthy comment from Bono, including one about putting hands together for “the heartbeat of innocence”.

Yet for all that they can fair storm through a back catalogue. Elevation was presented in juddering fashion, Where The Streets Have No Name not only spotlighted Mullen’s drumming but seemed more fitting than ever, and Bullet The Blue Sky was mixed with Bono's spoken word defense of his own reputation. It was a pummeling reminder that the band still possess fire few can match.