The biggest rock band in the world came to New Jersey Wednesday night with a massive stage, its famously sweeping sound and something else: a sense of humor.
The juggernaut known as U2 played a refreshingly casual set at Giants Stadium, reducing the 60,000-seat venue, and the band's humongous, four-limbed, 150-foot tall stage set - nicknamed The Spaceship - to an almost intimate scale. (The band plays again Thursday at Giants Stadium.)
In homage to local boy Bruce Springsteen (celebrating his 60th birthday), the band covered his classic "She's the One," then seamlessly moved into its own classic "Desire." Later, Bono dedicated "It's a Beautiful Day" to Quincy Jones, somewhere in the crowd, by blending that song with Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
It was a surprising approach from a band whose name has become almost synonymous with grandiosity and whose singer has become an influential humanitarian as well as a pop star. "I don't wanna talk about wars between nations," Bono sang on the new song "Get on Your Boots," though he added, "Not right now."
That was one of several songs the band played from its 12th studio album, "No Line on the Horizon," including the moody title track. But for most fans, the high point seemed to be past favorites such as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," on which Bono gladly let the crowd take lead vocals, and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which he bookended with salutes to political dissidents in Iran.
Parts of the show centered on a vague space theme, with footage of astronauts appearing on a giant wrap-around video screen (hence the name of the "360-Degree Tour").
But the band made light of that, too. Walking over a bridge from the stage into the crowd, the somewhat diminutive Bono joked, "One step for a small man."