Bono's passionate dedication to Ali: 'All I want is you'
Bono walked on stage like a man who no longer has anything to prove. No need for a boxer's silk robes or 40-foot lemons like previous U2 mega shows. In fact, the stadium lights were still on in London's O2 arena on Friday night as Bono slipped onto the runway almost unnoticed.
With less than four weeks to go until the band make their long-awaited homecoming, Bono acknowledged the surprised crowd as they sprung to their feet.
If you are one of 80,000 Irish fans lucky enough to get a ticket, the London gig gave plenty of clues about what type of show they can expect. It won't be the same though - every U2 gig has its own unique stamp.
But it seems many of their homegrown fans couldn't wait that long.
One Irish fan had just returned from three nights in Stockholm to watch his heroes and thousands more had flown from Dublin helping to fill the sell-out gig. Some paid big for premium level seats, only to stay on their feet all night. This was unusually intimate. A single retro light bulb hung over the stage, a throwback to the light over Bono's bed in the box room of Cedarwood Road.
Like any teenager, he had strummed a guitar, entertaining thoughts of becoming a rock star and the even bigger dream of stealing the heart of a girl named Ali.
"I want to write the perfect song," an 18-year-old Bono had told her at the time.
"But I'm not interested in perfect," came her reply.
It was to Ali, he made the big dedication of the night.
He spoke through song to his wife of over 30 years in his dedication to All I Want is You.
For the world's biggest rockstars who want intimacy on a world tour, this is as good as it gets.
There were memories from the band's earliest years on Dublin's northside.
Cherry blossoms blew across the screen and sailed down over the crowd. Larry Mullen played a single marching drum during Sunday Bloody Sunday, a reminder of his time in the Artane Boys Band.
All the old childhood friends were here too: Guggi, Gavin, Scott - Bono called them out by first name. And a few famous friends they'd met along the way: Matt Damon, Javier Bardem, "Damien Hirst right in front of you," he pointed to the artist in the audience during Beautiful Day.
The singer had come to look at the venue earlier that day with The Edge.
Taking a small boat down the river Thames ("some of our cooler guys had taken the subway" he joked), the two men stopped and looked up at this "concrete tent".
In quiet awe they wondered how their dreams of running away with the circus had come to this.
Bono christened Larry Mullen "the lion tamer", Adam Clayton - "and I say this with gritted teeth" because of his "enviable waistline" - "the incredible shrinking man".
On guitar, The Edge was given the role of "juggler and trapeze artist" - and finally on vocals, Bono smiled, pointing to himself "your clown for the evening... "
He thanked the audience for the life they have given the band.