U2 leave Mumbai spellbound

Rocking the stage: U2 lead singer Bono gestures to the crowd while performing with his bandmates in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Shashank Parade

Irish rock band U2 wrapped up their two-year Joshua Tree world tour, commemorating 30 years of their seminal 1987 album, with their maiden performance in India, treating the audience to several of their greatest hits at the D.Y. Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.

Though there were rumours of A.R. Rahman opening for the band, the Academy Award-winning musician showed up only for the penultimate song of the night. Together with his daughters, Khateeja and Raheema, Rahman and U2 performed ‘Ahimsa’ a song about non-violence recorded specifically in light of the Irish band’s performance in the city.

Organisers Bookmyshow pulled out the big guns to ensure people from all across the country could easily access the Navi Mumbai venue, from rental packages and discounts on app-based cab services to a special train from Andheri and even a chopper service at a whopping ₹14,000 per ride (plus taxes).

On their part, U2 performed an unusually long set from 7.30 p.m. to a few minutes short of the 10 p.m. deadline to a stadium few seats shy of its 50,000-odd capacity. Opening with ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ lead singer Bono ploughed through the first three songs before addressing the audience during ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’.

After acknowledging the fact that it took the band four decades to come to India, Bono said, “Let’s make this prayer in the dark: all we are saying is give peace a chance,” before proceeding to sample The Plastic Ono Band’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’. He went as far as to say the audience should use their votes to turn this meditation into a “legislation.”

Firing up the crowd

The band performed against an LED screen spanning the massive stage, which unfortunately didn’t project a live feed, leaving vertically challenged attendees vying for a glimpse of the foursome. When halfway through the concert at ‘Bullet through the Blue Sky,’ the band told the audience to “hold up your left and right and don’t be uptight,” the reticent audience, with a median age of 40 and a peppering of youngsters, promptly responded. Quite predictably, everyone loudly sang along to ‘Where the streets have no name’ and ‘With or without you’.

Ending the second act for The Joshua Tree, U2 skipped ahead to the ’90s with a special appearance from Noel Gallagher (ex-Oasis and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds). Stepping off the stage, Bono, dressed in a black suit with glittered lapels and a top hat, and the band returned a few minutes later to start the ‘rock show’ with ‘Elevation’.

The final act of the evening included a particularly inspiring rendition of ‘Ultra Violet’ asking for equal rights for women and the plea for them to be safe in their own homes and the streets. The song accompanied visuals of strong women who have “rewritten history,” including Karuna Nundy, the Gulabi gang, Arundhati Roy, Gauri Lankesh, Amrita Shergill, and Smriti Irani alongside Rana Ayyub. The show ended with ‘One’.

For the Indian audiences, Bono heavily alluded to peace, Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha and a light dose of Hindi including, “Kaise ho? (How are you?).”

Finally, the band walked off the stage to the Tricolour lighting up the screen. Two years, an iconic album and U2 went out with a bang.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 7:46:54 PM |

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