MANCHESTER, Tenn. >> U2 turned their first headlining appearance at a U.S. music festival into Bono-roo.
The Irish rockers performed a two-hour set on Friday night at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, as part of their world tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Grammy-winning “The Joshua Tree” album.
They played the full album, as well as some of their other hits, including “New Year’s Day” and “Beautiful Day,” to tens of thousands of music fans.
Toward the end of the performance, lead singer Bono asked if they had made a mistake in not coming to the festival sooner, and later added, “Thanks for naming it after me.”
The band kicked off their tour last month in Canada, which hits the United Kingdom, Europe and Central America through October 19.
The band has previously played the Glastonbury Festival, but their appearance on the Bonnaroo lineup this year was a huge get for the 16-year-old music festival.
Prior to their set, U2 guitarist The Edge received the Les Paul Spirit Award in a presentation from the Les Paul Foundation on the festival grounds. The Edge, whose name is David Evans, called Paul an inventor and innovator who pioneered advances in electric guitars and recording.
“I owe him a great debt of gratitude not only for the contributions he made to music, but in terms of his contributions to the technology,” Evans said.
Hours before the band took to the stage, fans lined up to get a place close to the stage. Many held signs detailing the first time they had seen U2 play.
The political nature of the album, which was inspired by the band’s fascination with America, was reflected on the giant screens behind the band. The screens showed images of female activists, scenes of the American desert and poems from American writers. Often Bono would stop singing to let the chorus of voices from fans complete the song.
As he ended the performance with their hit, “One,” he called it “a night we will never forget.”