SALT LAKE CITY — For U2 fans, Tuesday was a Beautiful Day (and night) at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Rock icons U2 returned to Salt Lake CIty more than a year after the band had to postpone the start of their North American tour.
"Thank you for coming out. And thank you for your patience," lead singer Bono told the more than 50,000 fans who attended Tuesday night's show. Outside Rice-Eccles, dozens of people who didn’t get tickets lined up along the gates to listen and catch glimpses of the band on the giant video screen.
He said it was a year ago this week that he had emergency back surgery in Germany.
"I was in a lot of trouble. But things went really well."
He also noted to the crowd, many of whom had waited more than a year to see the band, "We are so much better this year."
The energized crowd jumped in unison with their fists in the air as U2 opened with "Even Better than the Real Thing" followed by "I Will Follow" off their 1980 debut album Boy.
Bono showed no lingering effects of the back surgery, moving and dancing around the giant stage to fan favorites like "Mysterious Ways," "Elevation," "Beautiful Day" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
While some things change, "Some things remain the same. Nothing fazes this man," Bono said pointing to The Edge who was outstanding on lead guitar on songs like "Until The End of the World," "Get On Your Boots" and a great return of "All I Want Is You" to the set list.
U2 did what it does best, mixing music and social awareness. Before the show, the giant LED video screen (which was the most impressive part of the massive stage) scrolled numerous factoids from number of births today, the barrels of oil pumped today, number of cell phones sold today to the number of video games played online. The band even threw in local statistics such as Salt Lake County's unemployment rate and a running count of how many people had entered Rice-Eccles Stadium (50,000 as of 15 minutes before the show, and climbing).
The U2 360 Tour has already been declared the most successful in music history and the stage, known as "The Claw" is the largest stage ever built for a traveling rock production.
Fans started lining up Sunday at 10 a.m. for the general admission line. Many of them were from out of state, and even out of country, and many were following U2 from city to city.
Luis Bonilla was first in the general admission line. Originally from Mexico City, Bonilla had been waiting for the concert since 10 a.m. Sunday when he pitched a tent at the front of the GA line. Tuesday was his 30th U2 concert in his lifetime.
Parts of the show were so amazing, "I think I was crying," Bonilla said.
Brian and Kathi Bender, from Denver, saw U2 for the first time last week in their home town. They enjoyed the show so much, they followed the band to Salt Lake.
"I have no words," she said of the show. "I"m not a big concert person, but it was phenomenal."
Anthony DeMotta, from Hawaii, traveled to Denver to see U2, then followed them to Utah and planned to return to Hawaii after Tuesday night. Tuesday was his 33rd Utah show since 1997.
"It was great. It was a lot different from (the 2009 leg), a lot more surprises," he said.
E-mail: [email protected]