U2 Plays Russia, Bono Meets Medvedev

During the concert, U2 invited former Soviet underground rocker Yuri Shevchuk to the stage to join in on Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Shevchuk has been publicly critical of the Kremlin, and petitioned Bono to raise human rights issues when he met President Medvedev. Bono did not make any public criticism of the Russian leadership during his trip.

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If St. Petersburg is Russia's face toward Europe, an unmistakably European face lit up Moscow last night. At their first concert ever in Russia, Bono and the band U2 exhorted fans to think of themselves in more cosmic terms.

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)

BONO (Lead Singer, U2): Maybe this is the moment you can take your phones out and turn this Olympic stadium into the Milky Way.

MONTAGNE: At which point, the concert arena became a sea of twinkling lights, as fans held their cell phone phones aloft.

(Soundbite of cheering)

BONO: This is a beautiful country of Russia - ancient and modern.


To cheers of affection, the band that shares a name with an American spy plane shot down by the Soviets back in 1960, greeted 50,000 Russian fans in a downpour that drenched the performers, but did not dampen audience spirits.

(Soundbite of song, "New Year's Day")

BONO: (Singing) All is quiet on New Year's Day. A world in white gets underway.

WERTHEIMER: Russian concertgoers could be forgiven if they found the giant, floating video projection of the head of guitarist Edge looking an awful lot like Lenin.

MONTAGNE: The band was hardly promoting Russia's past, though. They invited a famous rocker who's been openly critical of the Kremlin onstage, and Yuri Shevchuk joined in a rendition of Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Earlier, Shevchuk had petitioned Bono to raise human rights issues during his meeting with President Medvedev.

WERTHEIMER: By concert time, it was all smoke, lights and peace signs, and another wall down.

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

(Soundbite of song, "New Year's Day")

BONO: (Singing) Say it's true, it's true.

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