Gig Review: U2 in Auckland
Two of music's biggest acts paid tribute to the Pike River miners at a sold out Mt Smart Stadium on Thursday night.
There was little doubt that a band with the social conscience of U2 would acknowledge the tragedy, even during the entertainment behemoth that is their 360 tour.
"People have ways of dealing with grief, in Ireland we sing," said charismatic front man Bono before an emotional version of Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.
They followed that with local favourite One Tree Hill as the names of the 29 dead scrolled down the massive screen at Mt Smart Stadium on Thursday night.
Earlier, hiphop mogul Jay Z dedicated Forever Young to the miners as he said "they will always be in our hearts and they will always be forever young".
Those were two moving moments in an otherwise upbeat night as U2 returned to New Zealand after an absence of exactly four years.
They've taken an audacious approach, with a claw shaped stage surrounded by rotating bridges and giant video system allowing a 360-degree view of the band, as the tour name suggests.
It ensured a fantastic perspective for the capacity crowd, but in some ways the screen above the tiny figures of the Irish foursome was almost too good and you had to drag your eyes away to find the band on the stage.
In a show of more than 20 songs there was a run through their catalogue of hits including Beautiful Day, Elevation, Vertigo, Sunday Bloody Sunday, One and With or Without You.
They were interspersed with new songs like Magnificent and Get On Your Boots off their uneven 2009 album No Line on the Horizon.
The show signalled the start of the fourth leg of their massive world tour, which upwards of four million people have seen so far. There seemed to be a few teething problems with their set and Mysterious Ways suffered through a muddled sounding backing vocal.
But with most of their biggest hits well in the past U2 still have an ability to keep things fresh and the combination of Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen on drums set a punishing groove in songs like Elevation that keep Bono strutting and dancing along the rotating runways in his black leathers and sunglasses.
Four years earlier Kanye West suffered poor sound as his U2 opening gig fell flat at Mt Smart. Jay Z had no such trouble on Thursday night as a party vibe ran though hits like Izzo, Hard Knock Life, D.O.A and a massive closing number in Empire State of Mind.
Where: Mt Smart Stadium
When: Thursday, November 26
* What did you think of the show? Post your comments below.