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Story and photos by Kate SeesholtzIt had been nearly thirty years since U2 played a concert in Nashville, but they more than made up for it Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium. Playing for over two hours, U2 packed out the arena with over 42,000 screaming fans.
U2 wasted no time getting to their hits, pulling out "Mysterious Ways" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" early on. The band also tapped into their Nashville connections with a rendition of "The Wanderer," a song the legendary Johnny Cash had lent his vocals to. The memorable song was a perfect lead in to give Bono and the Edge the stage alone to sing "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" with just The Edge's acoustic guitar to guide them.
U2 often used time during the set to draw attention to political matters and world injustices. Bono took time to draw attention to his ONE campaign, and thanked the crowd for their support of it. The band also focused heavily on the current unrest in Burma, speaking at length of the recent release of the country's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. U2 closed out their thoughts on Burma with the classic, "Walk On."
One of the most unique parts of the evening was a personalized greeting to the city from astronaut (and congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' husband), Mark Kelly. Kelly is stationed at the International Space Station, as the commander of the space shuttle Endeavour. With well wishes, Bono and Kelley dedicated ‘Beautiful Day' to congresswoman Giffords.
Other song highlights included "Elevation," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and an electrified jam version of "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight." Throughout all the songs the band were constantly moving around the circular stage and walkway, making sure to connect with every area of the stadium. The ever morphing 360-degree video screen above the stage gave even the farthest away fans a chance to feel front row.
As they closed out on their famous hit "Where the Streets Have No Name" the crowd burst into applause, but even when the audience was sure the night had ended, U2 continued to come back for more. As the band rested, a strange alien video played asking "What Time Is It In the World?" Leading U2 to rush back to the stage, Bono swinging from a glowing microphone. The Irish rockers played a few more songs, including "Moment of Surrender" before lastly bringing a blind fan up onstage to join them. U2 allowed the man to play a song for his wife, then Bono graciously handed the fan his guitar to keep. While allowing a fan the chance to play alongside their idol is an obvious crowd pleaser, it was an anticlimactic, albeit sweet, ending to a spectacular show.
Openers Flo + The Machine
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