ON THIS DAY: 2009: Rockers U2 wow 50,000 at Don Valley Stadium – PICTURES AND AUDIO
They are one of the world's biggest bands – and seven years ago today, megastar rockers U2 thrilled a sell-out crowd at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium.
It was on August 20, 2009 that Bono and co brought their huge 360 Tour to the now demolished stadium – and today we're reliving that momentous night with pictures from the show as well as a chance to enjoy it all over again with this audio stream.
Supported by Elbow, the concert was one of the biggest and most elaborate the city has ever seen – and the show was streamed live around the globe on the internet.
Almost 200 trucks, a specialist crew of nearly 500 people and a revolutionary stage design made the concert one of music's hottest tickets in that summer seven years ago.
Here's what our reviewers had to say.
First up, David Todd who filed this report for the Sheffield Telegraph…
"Mecca, Jerusalem, Lourdes – there are dozens of pilgrimage sites across the world.
"But Attercliffe? Almost 200 trucks, a specialist crew of around 450, a revolutionary stage design by a Sheffield designer and a 50,000-strong crowd.
"U2’s show at Don Valley Stadium proved one of the most ambitious gigs the city has hosted – and one of the biggest-grossing shows yet. But the ticket price didn’t put punters off.
"Thousands of parked cars lined streets within at least a half mile radius of the stadium and dozens, if not hundreds, of burger, ice cream and T-shirt vendors lined the surrounding areas and created a festival buzz around the Rotherham United ground.
"And all to see the Dublin rock band that brought us smash hits such as In the Name of Love, Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday. But the show wasn’t just about the music, either.
"Dominating the expansive arena space at Don Valley Stadium was U2’s stage, or ‘The Claw’ as it is known.
"Designed by Sheffield designer Willie Williams, The Claw mesmerised punters across the ground.
"Eyes were turned to the colossal structure, weighing 390 tonnes, before the world’s biggest rock band even walked on it. Some fans had travelled to Sheffield from as far afield as Chile, Spain and London.
"One particular hardcore contingent of fans camped out the night before the show, outside the stadium’s mesh fencing, in order to obtain a spot at the front of the crowd.
"The campers numbered themselves in accordance to the time they arrived, a tradition among hardcore fans that guarantees people don’t push in and steal their hard-earned positions.
"Numbers one and two, Andy Lyons and his daughter Gemma from Blackpool arrived at the stadium at 10am Wednesday morning. The pair even cancelled a holiday to follow U2’s epic tour.
"Karen Joyce and Philip Wright from Newcastle slept with no shelter in order to get prime position.
"We’re addicted to the front row," said Ana Karina, from Chile, who has followed the band across Europe and stayed in Attercliffe overnight with nothing more than a deckchair, her boyfriend and some tortilla wraps.
"A huge digital clock starts ticking while drummer Larry Muller Jnr walks to his kit and proceeds to bang out an epic, menacing thud. His band mates follow – The Edge wears his trademark hat and Bono, clad in a white shirt, which shines day glo amidst the lights, struts to the front singing "16th of June, nine-oh-five, door bell rings" – the opening track of Breathe, from the band’s latest album New Line on the Horizon.
"The stage transforms into various guises throughout the set. Its structure – which when taken down fills 120 artic trucks – is an engineering masterpiece. Bridges unfold and rotate around the 360 degree stage, a circular platform encircles the setting and dangling microphones are lowered, providing an acrobatic prop for Bono to swing on.
"The central column – adorned with bright, changing images and close-ups of the band – spins, slowly. Mid-show Bono pays homage to the Steel City designer: "Willie Williams is from Sheffield and I want to wish him a very happy birthday."
"Musically the set spans material from this year’s album New Line on the Horizon, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and War. But it’s the older material that clinches the crowd.
"Where The Streets Have No Name is powerfully delivered, invoking a transcendental mass chant among the crowd. Closing the show with something of a non-hit, Moment of Surrender, whose laid-back lounge beat would do justice to a club, not a stadium. Still, the crowd cheers rapturously."
And here's what Charles Smith had to say about the show for The Sheffield Star
"Not since the vast furnaces of Brown Bayley’s roared had the heart of Attercliffe witnessed energy consumption on such a scale.
"Then rarely does South Yorkshire host rock stars of the global calibre of U2.
"Some 25 years after steel production ceased on the site of Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield’s S9 district once again shook, this time with the product of heavy music industry.
"Long-time U2 show director Willie Williams will remember the night Bono’s boys returned to his hometown. Having again worked his magic alongside one of music’s most innovative set designers, he looked on as the frontman led the 50,000-plus crowd in singing happy birthday to him.
"There were other public messages too, not least from South African activist Desmond Tutu ahead of an encore of rousing hit One.
"Strip away the politics and worthy causes, though, and most spectators were here to witness a rock colossus that refuses to diminish.
"The vastness of the 360° Tour stage – a cross between the oceanic Bond-baddies’ base in The Spy Who Loved Me and a garish octopus – gave everyone a view, but robbed some of the immediacy and impact of an act with anthems to burn.
"Having established a Sheffield theme via support band The Hours – featuring locally-born singer Ant Genn, whose elderly aunt Margaret earned a name check from Bono – and piped tunes from the Arctic Monkeys and Human League, U2 emerged amid smoke that wafted into a clear night.
"A subdued start, drawing on latest album No Line On The Horizon, was brushed aside by the euphoria of Beautiful Day and Elevation before Bono touched on the subject of the day’s A level results.
"Take courage because you will have done better than any of us on this stage!" he told teenagers in the audience.
"Further proof that exam results don’t necessarily rock gods make followed with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and an Edge/Bono-only acoustic Stuck In A Moment, stirring the masses further.
"Then The Unforgettable Fire and City Of Blinding Lights had the bizarre arched stage on the move, its centre elongating like the core of some alien craft. Never let it be said there isn’t still one-upmanship in music.
"Even in the midst of the worst recession since the 1920s U2 went one better than The Rolling Stones, eclipsing their Sheffield Arena show of two years ago.
"This time the Arena provided parking for the 120 trucks that shifted 390 tons of stage, rigging, lights and screens to form the 164ft-high U2 super structure.
"With no sides to it, the earlier intermittent showers looked set to give the Irishmen more than just greater exposure to their fans, as those diehards who camped day and night would testify.
"As it happened the army of roadies dried out having completed the stage – only to begin deconstructing it within an hour of the band issuing their departing decibel.
"The show had put Sheffield on the U2 tour map alongside Barcelona, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice and Berlin. And, some 31 years after drummer Larry Mullen pinned a ‘Musicians wanted’ ad to the notice board at Dublin’s Temple Mount School, even he must have paused for breath as he gazed upon the human sea that turned Don Valley Stadium into a Milky Way of mobile phones while singing In The Name Of Love."
* Were you there? What are your memories of U2 in Sheffield? Share them with us on Facebook
Add up to 3 photos or 1 videos to the story
There's been a problem uploading your files. Please try again. By uploading your file you agree to our Terms and Conditions Upload your files ×
Continue the story
Sign in to contribute
shape the news in your area…