|Bono performs at the Innocence + Experience Tour at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif|
U2 wrapped up the North American portion of their “Innocence + Experience” tour last night at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. It was the first string of shows since they gifted their latest album “Songs of Innocence” to iTunes users last fall and it got off to a rocky start: The Edge accidentally fell off the stage at the first night in Vancouver, prompting the Internet to marvel in how close he got “to the edge.” Weeks later, their longtime road manager unexpectedly passed away, too – making us wonder if there was a curse on the band. Backlash over the band’s marketing strategy, followed by a freak-bike accident that sent Bono to rehab have certainly made it a trying year for the Irish rock group.
But with this tour, they bounced back and played multiple nights in each city and treated longtime fans to a mix of rare tracks, special guests, and hometown salutes. Here are 10 moments from the tour that stuck out as particularly memorable:
1. “When Love Comes to Town” (May 15, Vancouver)
“This is a very special occasion for anyone who loves the blues,” Bono said at the second night of the band’s tour. “This is the day that the world get to say goodbye to the great B.B. King.” From there, they kicked into “When Love Comes to Town,” the number the band dueted with King back in 1988 on their album “Rattle and Hum.” King passed away the day before and U2 hadn’t played the song on tour since August 1993, according to U2gigs.com.
2. “Sweetest Thing” (May 26, Inglewood, Calif.)
Bono impersonator Joseph Hier of U2 cover band Hollywood U2 got a thrill of the lifetime when the band invited him up to duet on this tune. Bono even turns over the lead vocal duties at the end, which gave Hier a chance to show off.
3. “Beautiful Day” (June 24, Chicago)
Towards the end of this “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” single, Bono took a moment to address the crowd. “This year, our country did something really important. More people turned out to vote for marriage equality in Ireland than turned out for anything before.” He was of course referring to Ireland’s legalizing same-sex marriage in May.
4. “Gloria” (June 28, Chicago)
It had been nearly 10 years since U2 played “Gloria” when they dusted off this “October” tune. This fan shot video is as close as you can get.
5. “Desire” (July 6, Toronto)
U2 continued their tribute band tributes by inviting up Toronto U2 tribute band “Acrobat” to help them perform a stripped-down version of “Desire” from “Rattle and Hum.” Performing with your heroes is a tall order, but Acrobat pulled it off. Also neat about this video: Watch carefully as the piano disappears.
6. “October” (July 18, New York City)
At the start of U2’s eight show run at Madison Square Garden, they made it clear the Big Apple would be in for a treat. The band pulled out “October” for the first time since November 1989, according to U2gigs.com. The Edge put down his guitar and shifted to the piano – and after the song was over, the significance of its return wasn’t lost on Bono.
7. “Desire” / “Angel of Harlem” (July 22, New York City)
Bono and Jimmy Fallon must have a deep bond now, as they’re both superstars with freak hand accidents in the last year. That bond was solidified on stage, when the band brought up “The Tonight Show” host for a rousing rendition of “Desire,” introducing him as “the singer with the broken finger.” But that wasn’t the only “Tonight Show” moment: Fallon’s house band the Roots joined for “Angel of Harlem.”
8. “Ordinary Love” (July 26, New York City)
“Her ladyness, her Gaganess is here this evening,” Bono said, when introducing pop star Lady Gaga, who was decked out in platform shoes and a black bikini. With little fanfare, she sat at the piano and started up “Ordinary Love,” which Bono reminded the crowd was written for Nelson Mandela (It was U2’s Academy Award nominated song for the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”).
9. “Mother and Child Reunion”/”Where the Streets Have No Name” (July 30, New York City)
At the second to last Madison Square Garden show, they brought up Paul Simon to help out with a version of his 1972 tune “Mother and Child Reunion.” It was a quick moment that led to Bono bowing down to Simon at the end, while the band started up their hit 1987 single “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
10. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” / “Stand By Me” (July 31, New York City)
They’ve played together before, but it’s hard to think it ever gets old seeing U2 and Bruce Springsteen together on stage. And Bono never seems to tire in professing his love for the Boss.