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Friday, May 15, 2015

U2: Putting on a True Show for their Fans

Last night I had the utmost pleasure of seeing U2 in concert.  This was my third time seeing them live, and third time must be the charm because it was probably the best concert I've ever seen. They were completely dedicated to giving every member of the audience the best show possible. Bono even going as far as to complement the entire audience, greeting us with, "You haven't aged a bit!"

As usual, the band was armed with intricate lights and a stage that spanned the length of Rogers arena.  But the most impressive part of the stage design put forward by their creative team was the extra large, two-sided screen that delivered beautiful graphics.  Possibly the most impressive, was the trip into Bono's childhood home, complete with an 18 year old Bono playing the guitar in his bedroom.  It was image overload, and I tried to evenly distribute my attention between the story playing out on screen and the band on stage playing some of my favourite songs (I task I didn't fully succeed in).

The screen was also put to good use during Sunday Bloody Sunday, and during Iris we were greeted with video footage of Bono's mother.  Bono admitted that he knew they didn't need all of this, (which is true, they sounded amazing and the rest was just an added bonus) but that technology can be fun.  At which point he pulled a girl onto the stage (my jealousy was at an all time high at this point) and gave her a phone that's video was hooked up to the screen.  They then proceeded to play The Sweetest Thing as she got to walk around, interacting with the band and having a once in a lifetime experience.

The only criticism I have of the jaw dropping use of technology (which had me saying"this is so cool!" and pointing like a five year old at the zoo) was when they used the screen for a short intermission.  They showed interviews and footage of other bands that had inspired them, which would have been more interesting if it was easier to make out what they were saying, but ultimately the intermission had the effect of taking the audience out of the flow of the concert and made for an almost awkward return to the stage when they started playing Invisible, as it was hard to tell they were even back due to them starting out behind the screen being completely yellow. And even when the audience clued in that the band had returned to the stage, it still took a while to bring the fans back to their feet.

But the uneasiness only lasted a moment as the rest of the concert had so many high points it was easy to forgive their time out.  For instance, their acoustic version of Every Breaking Wave, with only a spotlight and every other light from the arena shining from cell phones and lighters, gave me chills and was magical to witness.  I also wildly enjoyed Mysterious Ways which was accompanied with four disco balls, creating a light show over the audience.

The band left the stage, and returned for their encore greeted by an arena full of fans on their feet, clapping in unison.  I was relieved to finally hear With or Without You, and Beautiful Day which reminded me with such intensity why U2 is one of my favourite bands and why they are the best performers I've ever seen.

The concert that had me on my feet the entire time also had the strangest ending.  As Bono had us all singing in unison along to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, the music stopped briefly as The Edge (horrifyingly) fell off the stage.  A clearly confused Bono went on for a bit longer, trying to end the show on a great note while simultaneously trying to figure out what the hell was going on, before walking off the stage. The audience that had seen what had happened, as many, including my own sister, were oblivious to the event that had taken placed, cheered wildly as The Edge put his arm up to signal everything was ok, before being helped out by security.

As expected, today was greeted with many "The Edge didn't see the edge" puns with even the man himself getting in on the fun. Posting on Instagram after the show, his arm with a fairly large cut, a glass of champagne in his other hand and the caption, "Didn't see the edge, I'm ok!! #U2ieTour". 

Although we left the arena feeling a little confused, slightly in shock, and wondering how The Edge was doing (which inspired a Google search in the car, in which we found footage of his fall already online, but no report of his well being) we were nothing less than impressed and wildly pleased with the night of great music and artistic performances that we were lucky and privileged to take part in.  

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