City of Blinding Lights
I Will Follow
New Years Day
Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out of
Angel of Harlem
Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Love and Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Pride in the Name of Love
Where the Streets have no Name
With or Without You
The Saints are Coming
This was in the middle of the G20 weekend, so talk about a bizarre experience. To go from living on the street eating rice and water to the glitz and glamour of a U2 show was almost too much for my small, sleep deprived mind.
We (myself, Julie, Andrew and Jenni) arrived at about 4:50pm and started lining up, hoping that this would be early enough for us to get into the ellipse. The ellipse is the front section of general admission that only a select few are granted access to, right beside the circular catwalk that extends out from the main stage area. I thought access was randomly selected by the ticket, but apparently not: when we got in there about an hour and a bit later, everyone just ran for the front. We were some of the last people allowed in; talking to friends I saw outside the fence a little while later said they’d lined up since 2:30 in the afternoon, yet somehow had missed out. Whoops. Fate is a fickle thing. Apparently they must’ve come in a different (much slower) gate.
So that gave us access to the front rows, though with four of us, we didn’t push it, ending up about 6 people back. Had I been by myself, I would’ve pushed it, but as this was Julie’s first U2 experience I wanted to be with her for it.
Kanye West opened and was a bundle of energy. He’s obviously a great performer, but I just don’t enjoy his music. It seemed a little weird having a hip-hop guy open a U2 show, although I’ll admit they’ve had worse openers.
By the time U2 came on, I was out on my feet. The sleep deprivation and exhaustion was catching up with me and I could barely stand. Once they came on though, all that was forgotten.
My mate Jarrod McKenna called right at the moment the opening notes of City of Blinding Lights rang out; I answered knowing there was no way we would hear each other, but that he may well be interested in hearing the song, and that when he was done he could simply hang up. He hung on for a few minutes.
It’s a great show opener – the chorus just works to unite the crowd and get them jumping. In fact, the whole opening of the show was cracker – City, Vertigo, Elevation, and Follow. The tempo started to drop with New Years and never really returned, though it would’ve been hard to keep that level up for the whole show.
I was rapt to see Love and Peace or Else in there: it’s a fantastic song, used to good effect with Bono out on the ellipse thundering away on the drums. They got a kid up on stage during Sunday Bloody Sunday, and got him to do the “No more!” bit, which was a great touch. In fact, the way they connected the social justice stuff really worked well.
The screen wasn’t used nearly as well as it had been for PopMart or ZooTV, which surprised me, although it was used to good effect a few times, including to project the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Highlights: City of Blinding Lights was a great opener; in fact, the first four songs were searingly good. Miss Sarajevo was amazing – Bono doing the Pavarotti part, and just the context of the weekend with the lyrics and everything made it special. As I said, they did a sensational job of connecting their songs with social justice issues (which isn’t hard given their content, but for young people who might not get the meaning behind them, it’s hard to communicate that sometimes without being overly strident or overearnest). As a consequence, combining songs like Love and Peace or Else with Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride just worked a treat. Although Bono’s ‘Coexist’ sign (which uses the Muslim crescent for the C, the Jewish Star of David for the X, and the Christian cross for the T) struck me as the politics of low expectations. Can’t we do better than co-existence?
Lowlights: Streets is normally the highlight of any show for me – the way they did it at ZooTV and PopMart was awesome with the red lights overlaid with flickering white, but they didn’t do it here. The Saints Are Coming is a real disappointment – they should’ve ditched it for a lesser known but classic U2 song. The setlist was a little disappointing for me in my third show – I was hoping for some more obscure, or early stuff and it was basically a best of. Mind you, a U2 best of is still one of the best live shows going around, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Overall, a sensational show. Even a bad U2 show is better than a good day anywhere else, and this wasn’t a bad U2 show by any stretch of the imagination.