U2 are just hours away from kicking off their long-awaited Innocence + Experience world tour at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. It’s been nearly four years since the band last played a regular show, which took place in front of 66,000 fans at a festival site in Moncton, New Brunswick, on July 30th, 2011. It was the 110th show of the band’s U2 360° Tour and Bono and Co. were determined to end on an emotional note for the fans that had been following it over the previous two years.
Most shows on the tour wrapped up with “Moment of Surrender,” but at this gig they followed it up with their first single, “Out of Control.” It’s unclear if that was the intended stopping point, but when it was done Bono whispered something to the Edge and the group set up for one more song. The hardcore fans in the audience knew the second that Adam Clayton and the Edge swapped instruments and stage positions that it could only be “40,” the 1983 tune that ended so many U2 concerts in the 1980s.
It was the first time they played it on the 360° tour, and they delivered it flawlessly. The tune is built around Psalm 40, and midway through this performance Bono recited a passage from the Book of Numbers to the crowd. “God bless and keep you,” he said. “God smile on you and gift you. God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”
As was customary in the 1980s, the group walked offstage one by one as the song wrapped up, until Larry Mullen Jr. was playing the tune completely by himself. “Thank you Moncton,” he said when he was done. “We’ll miss you. Good night. God bless.” The drummer rarely ever speaks onstage, but he started the group in 1976 and it was appropriate to give him the last word of the tour. The group waited for him at the back of the stage, took a final bow, and then walked off together. It kicked off a long U2 live drought that ends tonight.