ut U2 also brought an uncommon intensity to some older material, especially during a fiery version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" that was performed against images from this year's election protests in Iran. The Edge's guitar work on "Bloody Sunday" was possibly his most energized of the evening, with Clayton and Mullen barreling through the song's martial rhythm. And the band closed out the main set by devoting "MLK" and "Walk On" to jailed Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with Amnesty International volunteers walking the massive circular runway carrying masks bearing the imprisoned politician's face.
While the Black Eyed Peas performed an energetic set of recent hits including "Boom Boom Pow," "I Gotta Feeling" and "Meet Me Halfway,"
the opener was the equivalent to a slick, Auto-Tuned pep rally for U2
-- this is a group that has dominated the singles charts for most of 2009, but while the Peas had much of the crowd moving throughout their 45-minute segment, even a seemingly unstoppable dance-pop machine was merely a prologue for the stars of the evening. All in all, U2 played a long main set -- 19 songs -- and came back to play some of the most popular songs of its career, including "One," "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "With or Without You," with Bono singing into and swinging from a glowing circular microphone that dangled from the center of "the claw." Sure, it looked like an alien landing, but U2 cleverly used the dimensions of its enormous stage to bring a human focus to the band and its performances.