From my perch high up in the heavens (row 30 of 40 in the 400 section) I watched Paul Hewson and co. bring their 360° tour to Soldier Field on Sunday. The enormous spaceship under which the band performed matched the bloated self-importance of the band’s lead singer Bono.
U2’s entry music was David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” And that’s when it hit me, I wished that it was Ziggy, not Bono who was about to take the stage.
Unsurprisingly the best songs of the night were recorded in the previous millennium. “Until The End Of The World” (taken from Achtung Baby, probably the band’s last essential album) without a doubt was my favorite performance of the night. The Edge’s guitar work was something to marvel at. He also shined on “Magnificent,” from their current record No Line On The Horizon.
Can the U2 Rock Band video game be far behind? Judging by the audience members that felt the need to sing along to entire songs (mainly the hits from The Joshua Tree and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”) it seems to be something their fans yearn for. Now I can understand singing along to a chorus here and there, but really what is the point in going to a show to sing along (matching the recorded versions of songs) and thereby obscuring the minor differences in Bono’s delivery? Perhaps I just am not cut out for attending stadium shows, but I came to hear “With Or Without You,” “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and felt cheated by the overwhelming sing-along factor.
I must applaud U2 for setting a price point (my ticket was $32 face value) that was economical enough for fans that just wanted to be in the building for the show. That lack of greed is admirable. However, Bono stated that the 360° stage was used to bring them closer to the fans, when in reality it allows for the sale of tickets in the area that would usually be behind the stage. (At Soldier Field this was the end zone area) Leave it to the beer and water concessions to gouge the masses. ($10 for a 20 oz. Guinness or Harp and $4.50 for a 20 oz. water)
I suspect renting or buying a Blu-Ray DVD of U2 might be equal to the experience of seeing them live. But then you would miss out on their megalomaniac lead singer in all his glory and the pushing of political messages. (There was an overlong pre-recorded address from Desmond Tutu)
This being my first (and likely only) time seeing U2, I felt a sense of bitter irony as the song I fully expected to see and maybe even give me goose bumps, “Pride (In the Name of Love),” was left off the setlist for the first time since August of 2001. Thanks Paul!
2. No Line On The Horizon
3. Get On Your Boots
5. Beautiful Day
6. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
8. Your Blue Room
9. Unknown Caller
10. Until The End Of The World
11. Stay (Far Away, So Close)
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. City Of Blinding Lights
15. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday
18. Walk On
19. One/Amazing Grace
20. Where The Streets Have No Name
21. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment Of Surrender