U2 fans will be talking about "the claw" for years, and how the Irish band brought a gigantic stage set to Norman that almost made Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium feel like an intimate venue -- well, maybe a basketball arena. But even with that imposing, "in the round"
superstructure towering over Owen Field, the emphasis Sunday night was on U2's performance -- all the visual flash was in service to the band, which performed a lengthy set spanning 26 years -- or, as Bono said early in the set, the length of time since the group's last stop in Norman.
"It took us 26 years to travel one mile," Bono said, referring to the band's performance at Lloyd Noble Center in 1983. And throughout the concert, Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. took huge leaps through U2's musical history, opening with three songs from this year's "No Line on the Horizon" -- "Breathe," "Get On Your Boots" and "Magnificent," before hurdling backward to 1991's "Mysterious Ways." While the group was highlighting its new songs whenever possible, U2 kept the crowd of 60,000 fans happy to the point of mass, ecstatic dancing when the group deployed its acknowledged classics such as "Beautiful Day" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
This was an audience ready to play along: toward the end of "Still Haven't Found," Bono sang two lines of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me,"
and the stadium finished the first verse and chorus for him. Perhaps because the mood was right and the crowd was primed, U2 added two songs it had not played in previous shows on the tour, 2000's "In a LIttle While" and the new "Unknown Caller," a dramatic, half-chanted song partially constructed from computer commands. But after that deep plunge into the new disc, the band came roaring back to familiar territory with two of its most haunting songs, the Biblical melodrama "Until the End of the World" and a mesmerizing version of "The Unforgettable Fire."
Spotlighting new material can be challenging to a band with a three-decade history, but the new songs from "No Line" intensified in the live setting, particularly a discofied "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" and the show's closer, "Moment of Surrender.