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The BBC's Carla-Maria Lawson
"A world away from the kind of stadium rock the band's now associated with"
 real 56k

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 09:27 GMT
World-beating U2 delight fans
Bono and The Edge (left) at the Astoria
Rock stars U2 declared themselves "the best band in the world" as they played their most intimate British show in 18 years on Wednesday.

The Irish quartet played to 2,000 people at a special fans-only concert at the Astoria in central London.

It was a warm-up for a world tour which begins in Florida next month.

The band dipped into their back catalogue as well as playing tracks from their latest album All That You Can't Leave Behind.

The band start their world tour next month
They kicked off with End Of The World, continuing with newer tracks Beautiful Day, Elevation and New York.

Later Bono stood at the edge of the crush pit at the front of the stage, balancing as the crowd supported him above their heads.

He then stuck a messiah-like pose, standing with his hands in the air, as the crowd gave them a rapturous reception. Earlier this week the band had been given a Godlike Genius trophy at the NME awards.

They also played some of their earliest material, including their Island Records debut 11 O'Clock Tick Tock.

"We'd like to play the first single we ever played for Island Records, because that's the kind of thing we do," Bono told the delighted fans.

Later the band played their second major label release I Will Follow, during which Bono slipped into the 1981 Teardrop Explodes song Reward.

Other tracks in the 16-song, 80 minute set included Desire, Mysterious Ways, Discotheque and latest single Stuck In A Moment (You Can't Get Out Of).

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger joined Salman Rushdie and Bob Geldof at the gig
Their last small gig in the UK was at the Hammersmith Palais in west London in 1983.

It was almost four years ago that they last played in London, during their Popmart tour at Wembley Stadium.

The Astoria show follows similar low-key club dates by U2 in Paris and New York.

U2 will play at the Brit Awards on 26 February and are expected to play at the Grammys, in Los Angeles, five days earlier.

The band are nominated in three categories at the Grammys - record of the year; song of the year and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal.

They will receive an award for outstanding contribution to music at the Brits. They are also nominated in the best international group category.

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Entertainment
U2 on fire at warm-up gig
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
U2 triumph at NME awards
29 Oct 00 | New Music Releases
CD Review: U2
26 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Club date for U2
28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
U2 to receive Brits honour
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