U2 mixes politics and music in free London concert

U2 frontman Bono performing with his band in Trafalgar Square in London on Nov 11, 2017.
U2 frontman Bono performing with his band in Trafalgar Square in London on Nov 11, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Irish band U2 performed in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday on the eve of the MTV Europe Music Awards, with a politically-charged set from frontman Bono.

The group played a mixture of new material and classic tracks such as Beautiful Day, ahead of Sunday's awards ceremony where U2 will pick up the Global Icon gong celebrating more than 40 years in the music industry.

Singer Bono wove current affairs and activism into the concert, urging fans to hold up placards they had taken to the square.

"Protesting in the end works - it gets things done, slowly but surely," he told the fans who had won free tickets in a ballot organised by MTV.

Words from the US rights campaigner Martin Luther King were shown on a large screen while Bono also talked about gender equality.

The band paid tribute to the victims of May's suicide bomb attack at a Manchester concert venue, displaying the names of the 22 people who were killed.

U2's performance was followed by a set from DJ David Guetta, who will also take to the stage at the MTV awards.

Sunday's ceremony will be hosted by British singer Rita Ora and marks a return of the Europe Music Awards to London for the first time since 1996.