Las Vegas Sun

September 15, 2019

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Thomas & Mack Turns 25:

No. 4: U2 plays tribute show after 9/11

Editor's Note: In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Thomas & Mack Center's opening on Nov. 21, 1983, the Sun is celebrating the building's colorful history with a top 25 countdown - to No. 1 on Nov. 21, 2008 - of the biggest events held inside the arena located on UNLV's campus.

After No Doubt finished its 25-minute opening set, the lights at the Thomas & Mack Center went up to reveal hardly an empty seat in the house. More than 18,000 U2 fans crammed into the T&M for the first major concert following the attacks of 9/11, with U2 headlining.

The audience swayed to the classic-rock house music, and when the familiar guitar intro to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” kicked in, whoever was manning the volume jacked it up past nine, to 11, and out marched the band whose soaring live performance would certainly pay tribute to the still-wrenching tragedy. As the band charged into “Elevation,” the lights stayed up, almost to the song’s end as fans bounced and roared. Maybe America wasn’t quite “back,” but U2 was.

Moments from the show: Bono pulled a young woman from the crowd onstage and handed her a guitar, which (fortuitously!) she knew how to play. Cynics would call that woman a “plant,” and she likely was. … Bono bent down to the photographers’ pit and pulled local photo ace Denise Truscello up close and planted one full on her mouth; years later – last month, in fact – Truscello was similarly bussed by Donny Osmond, making her (probably) the only person to have kissed both icons. … Gwen Stefani returned to the stage for a coy duet with Bono on “What’s Goin’ On.”

The theatrics took a deeper turn late in the show, when Bono started in with, “One,” and the giant LED screen at the back of the stage scrolled each name of those killed in New York and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001. While reading the names, my vision blurred and head swooned. I had actually forgotten to breathe. Few bands have ever matched the moment like U2, and they were up to the task in November of 2001 at the Thomas & Mack.

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