As much as I hate working for the company I do sometimes, there are benefits. One of those benefits was free tickets to U2, though the tickets given to me were pretty poor. They were way way waaaaay far away from the stage, and way way way up high, above the “Jackie Robinson” banner, above the Blackberry Loves U2 banner. One advantage of these tickets though, there wouldn’t be anyone in your way and you could see everything. But I didn’t use these tickets, a friend of mine managed to score me front row tickets instead!
I have to admit though, I’m not the biggest U2 fan, I didn’t know many of the songs lyrics, or any off their newer CDs. I didn’t even know the band member names, I knew of Bono of course, but everyone knows Bono. So perhaps some might consider front row tickets being wasted on me, maybe they’d be right, maybe not. But I have to say, I have an all new respect for U2 as a band, they really raised the bar on live performances for me.
Upon entering the stadium it was immediately apparent this would be a large concert. The stage was massive, simply massive. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but this picture might help, taken from a Helicopter. The stadium has a seating capacity of between 10,000 and 55,000 for concerts and I would definitely lean towards the 50,000+ for this concert, the entire stadium was packed full of people, I barely had enough room to raise my arms up and clap!
The concert was opened by Snow Patrol, a band I’m also not very familiar with but knew of them and didn’t hate or like their music. Their opening act was very good, their songs had a good beat and sound and got me enjoying myself and moving around right away. The same thing could not be said for the opening band at the blink-182 concert, Chesterfield. Snow Patrol was very good live, I couldn’t find a fault in their performance even if I tried. Their sound was superior to any of their tracks I’ve heard on the radio or CD, a very good live band and an impressive opener.
Of course the main event here was U2, after Snow Patrol finished there was a lot of sound testing going on. I’m sure they tested before we got there as well, but with all the crackberries and cellphones in the audience and changing conditions I can understand wanting to make sure. So there was some good downtime here to talk amongst each-other about Snow Patrol and what we might expect to come. It was at the time I finally decided to turn around and check out the still filling stadium and the amount of people that would soon fill the stadium to capacity. It was really a sight to see the stadium with so many people, as I do not think I’ve ever seen the stadium that full. I’ve been to some baseball games and various other events at the Skydome, but nothing that filled the stadium like this concert did.
U2 entered the stage one band member at a time, starting with their drummer Larry Mullen and of course, ending with Bono the lead singer. U2 opened with a bunch of tracks off their new CD titled No Line on the Horizon which I didn’t even know existed being the big U2 fan I wasn’t. They followed up with a mix of songs from a bunch of their albums ranging all over the place in sound and time, many of these songs I knew. All the band members sans the Drummer had wireless instruments and walked all over the stage, over bridges to other bits of the stage, walking a number of times right by where I was, only security was in the way between the band and me.
Over the course of the 2+ hour (straight!) concert I came to realize that U2 and more specifically, Bono are real performers. Where blink-182 might be considered a fun band some friends are in, U2 are professional performers. That isn’t to say blink-182 was bad, not at all, it was an excellent concert, but U2 took it to a whole level unattainable by blink-182. If I were to tell my good friend this he’d probably smack me as he hates Bono and loves blink-182 (his favourite band), but it’s a simple truth, U2’s performance was superior in every possible way and it’s now apparent to me why 50,000 people would fill a stadium to see them.
The biggest example I can think of as to why they’re superior, the length of the setlist and how it was nearly non-stop for the entire duration of their performance. Sure blink-182 has 22 songs, only one less than U2, but think about the length of U2s songs vs blinks? the shortest song U2 played was a 3 minute 15 second song (at least on CD), contrast that to the average song length of blink-182s setlist, 3 minutes 9 seconds. If you base it just on CD track times, Blink-182 was a smidge over an hour long in their performance, and U2 was a smidge under 2 hours.
Another difference I’d like to point out between the two concerts, was the finish. Blink-182 finished on a high with an upbeat oldie of theirs that the whole crowd loved and was totally into. However after such a song it felt like the band ran off the stage and that was it. I suppose it’s effect was intended to leave you wanting more, and it did, but it felt very rushed. Contrasting that to U2, U2 finished with a new song, a slow song which almost felt like a fade out. A few members of the crowd surrounding me said to each-other than they thought it was a terrible song to end on, however I disagree with them entirely. It seemed entirely fitting for the concert and almost felt like a goodbye. I left the concert feeling like U2 actually appreciated that all these people had come to see them, and it was a good feeling, a good concert and the band enjoyed that you were there. Going back to blink-182, the rushed ending felt like they just wanted to get the hell out of there.
So to finish off this rather long post, I’m really happy I went to the concert and I’m really happy that my friend got me those tickets. I was so close, and the music was so good, and made me respect live performances in an whole new light. I’ll definitely remember this concert and it’ll be unfortunate for every band I see from now on. I’ll have to separate them in my mind, every other concert and U2, entirely different levels of performance. But take that with a grain of salt of course, I’ve only been to 2 concerts in my lifetime thus far.
It’s hard to cover everything from the concert, I could still say so much more.
Update 2019-06-23: Pictures reprocessed.
- If there’s a Rocket Tie Me to It (A Hundred Million Suns)
- Chocolate (Final Straw)
- Hands Open (Eyes Open)
- Shut Your Eyes (Eyes Open)
- Run (Final Straw)
- Chasing Cars (Eyes Open)
- Crack the Shutters (A Hundred Million Suns)
- Open Your Eyes (Eyes Open)
- You’re All I have (Eyes Open)
- Breath (No Line on the Horizon)
- No Line on the Horizon (No Line on the Horizon)
- Get On Your Boots (No Line on the Horizon)
- Magnificent (No Line on the Horizon)
- Beautiful Day (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (The Joshua Tree)
- Stand By Me (Cover)
- Elevation (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
- Your Blue Room (Original Soundtracks I)
- Unknown Caller (No Line on the Horizon)
- Until the End of the World (Achtung Baby)
- Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (Zooropa)
- The Unforgettable Fire (The Unforgettable Fire)
- City of Blinding Lights (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
- Vertigo (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
- I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (No Line on the Horizon)
- Sunday Bloody Sunday (War)
- MLK (The Unforgettable Fire)
- Walk On (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
- One (Achtung Baby)
- Where the Streets Have no Name (The Joshua Tree)
- Ultra Violet (Light My Way) (Achtung Baby)
- With or Without You (The Joshua Tree)
- Moment of Surrender (No Line on the Horizon)