Wednesday, 26 January 2011

81, 82 U2, Various Supports, London Wembley Stadium, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 June 1987

A double double-header of U2 gigs (4 in all in 11 days) culminated in this 2 night stand at Wembley Stadium, the first time U2 had been elevated to Stadium Band status (1985's Milton Keynes "Longest Day" show notwithstanding), and my first Stadium gigs as well!

Day one, I drove up and parked in Uxbridge, tubing in from there. Wembley Stadium is huge; luckily the pitch was tarpaulined over so the hallowed turf wasn't desecrated. Found a good viewing spot near the front of the stage as the place filled... and filled... Openers WORLD PARTY started with their best song "Ship Of Fools" then faded badly. SPEAR OF DESTINY were next up; disappointed not to see Alan St. Clair or Stan Stammers in the line-up, but SOD played a strident rock set featuring old faves "Mickey", "Once In Her Lifetime" and "Young Men", which won me over.

Pleasantly surprised by the PRETENDERS set, which was more rocking than their intelligent but often wallpaper pop output might have suggested; vocalist Chrissie Hynde dedicated best number "Kid" to the late Pete Farndon and James Honeyman Scott; the rendition was beautiful.

As for U2; they played basically the same set as the NEC 10 days ago, omitting their version of "Maggies Farm" now that the election is over. With Bono a splendid showman well at home on this big stage, their set was typically wonderful, but no surprises after a couple of viewings already. However, tomorrow was the biggie...

Stayed overnight with a friend in Uxbridge, then tubed it in again, meeting lots of Swindonians in the massive queue, including PG and the Budlet (already - and still - U2's biggest fan).

LONE JUSTICE opened with an energetic set of countrified pop, certainly more kinetic than the totally static POGUES. Shane MacGowan was totally pissed as the Pogues got lost on this huge stage. However LOU REED was surprisingly good, playing memorable covers of Velvets classics "Walk On The Wild Side" and "White Light/ White Heat" and proving there's life in the old dog yet.

As the light dimmed on a slate grey sky - some contrast from the previous day's sun - the PA played "Stand By Me" as per usual, but this time U2 wandered, almost nonchalantly, onstage, picked up their instruments and started playing along! Thence followed a totally awesome 2 hours, easily the best set of the 4; a rejigged set including covers of "C'Mon Everybody" and the Beatles "Help", a brilliant, brilliant "Gloria", 6 songs for encores and much sincerity from Bono, everyone's focus. "This Wembley Stadium is a big place but this music and you people are bigger; don't forget tonight, we won't." Tonight, I believe it, and at this point, U2 are setting the standard in live performances. Awesome.

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