U2 could be calling it a day, according to a remark Bono made in Berlin last night, on the final stop of their Experience + Innocence tour.

The band’s frontman is reported to have told the crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Arena: “We’ve been on the road for quite some time – just going on 40 years – and this last four years have been really something very special for us. We’re going away now.”

The tour was due to have ended in Dublin last Saturday, but the band returned to Germany to make up for having had to abandon one of their performances in the city, on September 1st, after Bono lost his voice.

That the band might have been planning to announce their retirement at the end of the half-dozen shows on the Irish closing leg of their six-month tour could explain why they gave Dirty Day, from their 1993 album Zooropa, its first live performance in 25 years in Dublin last week, as well as why they dusted off The Unforgettable Fire and Stay (Faraway, So Close!) on their Copenhagen stop, at the end of September.

There is also speculation that recent health problems might have prompted Bono’s remark. The singer has referred to a recent “shock that left me clinging on to my own life”, and last month he added that he “nearly ceased to be”. “It was pretty serious,” he said. “I’m all right now, but I very nearly wasn’t. I’ve had a lot of warnings. A fair few punches over the last years. There were some serious whispers in the ear that maybe I should have taken notice of.”

But U2gigs, which tweets about the band’s shows, and reported Bono’s Berlin comment, also pointed out that almost all of the band’s final concerts are the same, with “mass panic that this is the last gig”. But, it added, “ten bucks says I’ll be covering another gig with you folks sometime down the track. I will concede that this is the first time the mass panic has at least seemed plausible. But there’ll be *something* for Boy at 40 or AB” – Achtung Baby – “at 30, or a new record. U2 won’t sit still and they won’t break up, and they’ve got enough years ahead of them yet to fit in more gigs!’

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