Line Up: David Guetta, U2
Host: Laura Whitmore
Standing, freezing cold, in Trafalgar Square on a Saturday night drinking £5 bottles of Fosters is not normally my idea of fun. However tonight, for 45 minutes we saw a set of old and new songs from one of the world's biggest bands. Here as part of the build up for the MTV EMAs (first time in London since 1996) the band play on a stage with Nelsons column overlooking. A great setting for a great band and although MTV hasn't being on my (or I would wager most U2 fans) radar for 20 years, I was more than happy to grab a free ticket to see the Irish legends.
There was tight security on the way in with one minor flaw. No one actually checked our tickets. We queued up, we were searched, then we walked straight in. Odd. I would imagine that would be pretty frustrating for those stupid enough to buy tickets from the touts outside. Funny for us though. Once inside the first stop were the port-a-loos; horrible, cramped things at the best of times, but when pitch black inside they are twice as hard to navigate successfully. As the gentleman that I am I offered to stand outside the wife's loo while she went it. I changed my mind though when another one came free next door. As I exited my loo so did Mrs Rock from hers. She looked at me in disgust. Apparently I was supposed to be guarding her door. Little did I know she hadn't locked it...luckily no one tried to get in the port-a-loo with her...she did eventually talk to me again.
For a group (and singer) that divide opinion (how dare they give an album away for free), U2 have spent 40 years at the very top. That must mean they are doing something right. Admittedly MTV hand out icon awards when a band has a new album to sell but it is fair to say that U2 deserve theirs for their music as well as their political activism. Fittingly on Armistice Day they open the set here with a poignant Sunday Bloody Sunday, "How long must we sing this song.." that question still sadly very much still valid. Pride is next before two new songs.The first of which, Get Out Of Your Own Way is magnificently U2. A great hook, great lyrics ("smack in the mouth and it all went south") and performed with gusto.
Second new song Your'e The Best Thing About Me passes by (a grower hopefully) but they follow that up with Beautiful Day, Elevation, Vertigo and One (if Carlsberg did 45 minute U2 sets)...the square should be bouncing but sadly, as great as the band on stage are, this free gig crowd were not. No matter. As always for me, seeing U2 underlines what an excellent live band they are.
They finish their short set with another playing of Get Out of Your Own Way. This time to get some shots for the new video...handing out protest signs as they did...the best being the The Edge's 'Down With That Sort Of Thing'...how it could not be.
It may only have been short but to see U2 in such an iconic setting was something I will never forget. We stuck around to have a few more bottles of disgusting beer and watch a French bloke spin a few records. Not my thing. The Mrs and plenty of others there had a ball though. I'm clearly not his target audience. Each to their own of course. That no doubt makes me sound old but that's ok. Give me a guitar any day of the week.
Ticket: November 11th 2017
Ticket Price: Free Ticket Gig