September 20th, 2009. Gillete Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Fellow Concert goers: David Briggins, David Marsh, Chris Cameron
Supporting: Snow Patrol
Throughout history, the creativity of humans has led to jaw-dropping structures. Things such as the Eiffle Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, and Jerry Jone's Cowboys Stadium. U2's "spaceship" stage they are using on their current 360 tour may not be as impressive as the previously mentioned structures, but when it comes to rock'n'roll shows, it certainly is something for the eye to behold. Fittingly, the show started with David Bowie's Space Oddity playing across the sound system as smoke emptied from various points in the claw and a countdown instrument was displayed on the large screen. It was fitting since the band was getting ready to take the 70 000 plus people on a sonic and visual journey. Their set started off with the founder of U2, Larry Mullen Jr. kicking off the show on his drum kit as the other band members emerged to play Breathe. "We've got new song, we've got old songs, we've got songs we can barely play, we've got a spaceship. But we're not going anywhere without you. Are you ready for the ride?," Bono asked the crowd after the opener. This was followed by three more songs off their most recent album No Line on the Horizon. While the new songs sounded as if they were designed to be played to the masses, it was not until the band started to pull classic songs out of their catalog that the crowd really got into the show and were ready for the ride. Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day, and Elevation all involved chances for the crowd to sing, jump, and dance. Continuing the sci-fi theme of the night, Bono introduced each band member as a different experiment. "Experiment #1..a mix of Jimmy Page and Stephan Hawkins, the Edge." "Experiment #2, a wonder of biology, our very own big band...Adam Clayton.""Experiment #3...for he is not human at all...Robocop III, Larry Mullen Jr." After doing intros, Bono let the crowd take over, singing the entire first verse and chorus of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. It was quite an experience hearing thousands of voices singing in unison.
This was followed by Unknown Caller which featured various words of the song scrolling across the screen, making it easy for the crowd to join in on this new song, although it did not take much prompting. Next the Edge had a chance to play the keys as the band went into New Year's Day, a song that sounds perfectly in an open stadium. With such a huge stage, at times band members were on opposite sides of the stadium. But for Stuck In a Moment, it was just the Edge, his acoustic guitar, Bono, and his voice. During this simple acoustic song, it was easy to forget what an extravagant spectacle the show was. They then played an older song, The Unforgettable Fire which was when the screen started to lower, showing that the band still had many visual tricks up their sleeve for the rest of the show. A few songs later, Bono encouraged the crowd to rock the house and get a groove on as they went into a remix version of I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight featuring Larry Mullen going around the outer circle banging a djembe. It was nice to see the drummer not constrained to his drum kit, but instead being able to explore the stage. After this, they went into their usual political inspired string of songs. Sunday Bloody Sunday dedicated to those in Iran fighting for freedom and equality with the stage and crowd covered in the green of the Iranian flag. Next, after a brief speech and message of love from Foxboro to Burma, MLK and Walk On were played for Aung San Suu Kyi. The end of Walk On featured people wearing masks bearing her image circle the outer stage. After this, Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivered an encouraging message to the crowd, a message of hope, a message to continue to work as One. This was followed by a verse of Amazing Grace before the opening sounds of Where the Streets Have No Name rang throughout the stadium. The entire stadium was jumping up and down as the classic red filled the stadium. This was the end of the main set. The encore featured Bono wearing a jacket lined with red lights singing from a lit up microphone wheel hanging from the top of the stage. They played Ultraviolet Light, an old favourite from Achtung Baby. This was followed by With Or Without You, and finally after some thank yous, Moment of Surrender.
Overall it was a spectacular show, something that was obviously designed with their stadium rock songs, and something to please the crowd. With something so grand, some of the intimacy of a U2 show was lost. But at the same time it showed off how well the band works together. Playing a few hundred feet apart at times, each instrument worked together as one part. Bono was right when he called it a spaceship. For those two plus hours, the crowd was transported from a stadium in busy America to a musical experience in a different dimension.
No Line On The Horizon
Get On Your Boots
Beautiful Day - Blackbird
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Stand By Me
New Year's Day
Stuck In A Moment
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
One - Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender