U2's devilish Bono takes on neo Nazis, Trump in Berlin
U2 has taken a devilish blowtorch to the politics of hate, targeting Donald Trump and the rise of right wing nationalists in Germany.
In Berlin overnight, the Irish supergroup urged fans to welcome refugees before performing under the bright blue flag of the European union.
Against the backdrop of ugly protests against immigration, lead singer Bono said love always worked better than hate, decrying far right extremists.
"This is not who we are. They do not belong in Europe.''
Giant screens, which ironically divided the Berlin crowd like its infamous wall, then filled with peace marches. "This is who we are. This is who we want to be.''
The sold out show at Berlin's Mercedes Benz Arena opened with powerful images of a world ravaged by war, including scenes of Berlin in 1946 and London burning in 1940.
"The hate of men will pass… you the people have the power. Let's all unite for a new world… a decent world,'' messages read.
The montage decried the lies of US president Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, before declaring there is room in the world for everyone.
In a reference to Nazi Germany, it blasted the 'goosesteps to misery and bloodshed.''
Later in the show, Bono referenced recent protests by right wing demonstrators after more than 1000 people rallied following the killing of a German man by two immigrants.
A march is planned in Chemnitz on Saturday to mourn those "killed by Germany's forced multiculturalism".
Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper this week, Bono warned about the rise of "extremist politics".
"As a European I feel proud thinking back to when Germans welcomed frightened Syrian refugees (I'd feel prouder had more countries stepped up); proud of Europe's fight to end extreme poverty and climate change; and, yes, extraordinarily proud of the Good Friday agreement and how other countries have rallied behind Ireland on the border issue, revived by Brexit. I feel privileged to have witnessed the longest stretch of peace and prosperity ever on the European continent,'' he wrote.
"But all these achievements are under threat, because respect for diversity-the premise of the whole European system-is being challenged. As my countryman John Hume has said: 'All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is race, religion or nationality. The European visionaries decided that difference is not a threat…Difference is of the essence of humanity,' and should be respected, celebrated, and even cultivated."
"The word patriotism has been stolen from us by nationalists and extremists who demand uniformity. But real patriots seek unity above homogeneity. Reaffirming that is, to me, is the real European project," Bono says.
During the show, Bono's face is digitally transformed into the devilish MacPhisto character as he targets extreme right wing activists.
Mr. MacPhisto was first created by Bono for the Zoo TV tour as it wound through Europe in 1993. The name refers to Mephisto, a demon in German literature, who works for Lucifer.
"Look at you Berlin, you don't know what you have got, do you?
"This city, so old, so new.
"So wonderful and it's yours. It's not anyone else's.
"You don't have to share it with people,'' the devil declares.
"You don't have to share it with f.f.f.oreigners,'' MacPhisto hisses.
"Maybe the tourists, but not foreigners.''
"I'm just back from America.
"It's full of foreigners,'' he continues.
"Everyone's a foreigner but the good news is The Donald is on top of the situation.
"You could do with someone like this around here.
"You do have one come to think of it.
"What's her name. A.F.D. Alternative for Democracy,'' Bono rails, in reference to the anti-immigration party Alternative for German (AfD).
In a recent interview with CNN, Bono and guitarist The Edge were unapologetic for their foray into politics targeting US president Trump.
But The Edge said the band was not partisan. "We want to hear the arguments. As a band we are comfortable with differences of opinion.''
Bono, who has talked often about his Christian faith, said he had a deep respect for conservatives.
"I have found them to be great allies in the campaign against extreme poverty."
But he said he didn't like the leader of the conservatives right now, referring to Trump while deliberately not naming him.
U2's latest tour, "Experience + Innocence," features some of the most sophisticated technology in rock music - something that would no doubt be appreciated by those attending IFA 2018 in Berlin - Europe's huge consumer electronics show.
The show featured augmented reality, a huge LED screen that the band climbs inside, creating a surreal mixture between real life and the video screen.
The show begins with a alien-like image of Bono's MRI after he suffered a near death experience. He wrote portions of the "Songs of Experience" album after that.
During the show, the band talks of growing up and dealing with fame.
In an earlier interview with CNN, Bono says he would like to be remembered first as a good father, a good partner, a good mate.
"And that you wrote songs that you could never live up to but they have their own life and they served your audience well."
The Edge added: "Our work speaks the most eloquently. I think if the songs are famous, I'm happy. I think they speak better than I ever could about us and what I'm about."
Despite the language difference, few would have left the Berlin arena last night without a clear understanding of that message: Love is a much better alternative to hate.
The writer is in Berlin covering IFA 2018.