Thursday night brought to an end my five shows in eight days. [9/24-10/01]. I couldn’t think of a better, bigger way to end it than seeing U2, once called ‘the most important band in the world’ by Rolling Stone, at UVA’s Scott Stadium, with my friend Eddie on his birthday-eve.
Playing a college town always promises a fun energetic show. As the opener, ‘Breathe’ came to an end, Bono asked ‘Is Mister Jefferson in the house?’ and then the band kicked into ‘Get On Your Boots.’ The great thing about seeing this band live for me was, the songs on the new record that sounded somewhat average in their recorded versions [‘Get On Your Boots’ and ‘Magnificent’ among them] came alive with a crackle of electricity that only the live setting can provide. It made me listen again to the new record and appreciate it more.
U2 has always done things BIG. This tour is no exception, with a set that takes six [!] days to construct and uses almost every one of the one hundred yards of the football field. Called the ‘360 Degree Tour’, the focal point of the set [apart from the musicians onstage of course] is the screen. The 360-degree screen is visible from anywhere in the stadium and not only showed video from the stage, but as the show progressed, it turned into a huge gallery of multi-colored light-squares, and then the video image onstage was viewed through that lighted prism. It was a spectacular effect and stunning to watch.
The setlist leaned heavy on the new album, but there were enough classics to keep everyone happy. I told Eddie as we entered the gates to the venue that I didn’t really have one song I had to hear, ‘but it would be cool to hear ‘New Year’s Day’’ [I intentionally have not been reading set lists since the tour started so as to be surprised]. When The Edge began that piano intro, I screamed and sang at the top of my lungs. Had the show been too much and the power gone out at that point, I still would have been happy, but there was more.
Bono has never shied away from delivering a message with his music. For me, the most stirring moment of the show came during another U2 classic, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.’ Originally written about war in Ireland, Bono claimed it on this night for ‘the non-violent revolution happening on the streets of Iran.’ The video screen then showed footage of protesters in Iran, some beaten and bloodied, behind the green background of the Iranian flag. It was a sobering reminder that it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I expected a message; I just didn’t expect it to move me quite so much.
Walking out of the venue, the thought that kept spinning around my head was that ‘Yes, the world is indeed small enough that anyone and everyone can change it. I/We just have to DO SOMETHING and START NOW.’ I know of no other rock show that has left me feeling like that. After seeing them, I dare you to be cynical.
U2 are a band like no other. They are able to rock, make you think, make you smile, and hopefully spring you into a positive action of your own.
Setlist [courtesy of U2.com]:
Get on Your Boots
No Line on the Horizon
Your Blue Room
New Year’s Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stuck In A Moment
City of Blinding Lights
I’ll Go Crazy – Remix
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On** [REALLY glad I heard this one. One of my faves]
Where The Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender