Friday, December 17, 2010

U2 360 Live at ANZ Olympic Stadium Sydney 13th December

U2 360 Concert Spoiler Alert!!

"I don't really want to leave!" said Bono as the first of their two nights in Sydney wound down after 11pm!! There's plenty of well scripted banter in a U2 show but this was genuine response to the vibe and a shared sense that it had been a special night!!
After two disappointing nights at the 'Vertigo' stadium shows in 2006, 'The Claw' lived up to all the hype in terms of the audiences view of the band and the quality of the sound [which was almost perfect]!! The best part is that a U2 show is never just a replication of their CDs and the passion, 'edge' and enjoyment of the band were palpable tonight!
From 'Return of the Stingray Guitar' and it's pop synth energy [to get the sound sorted] to 'Beautiful Day' I felt invited, connected and inspired by four blokes enjoying their night. 'I Will Follow' reminded me of times spent in the early 1980's in a mates car [complete with handy drum sticks] listening to 'Boy' and 'War' on a cassette tape with a carload of fans hearing these songs for the first time.
The new sounds of 'Get on Your Boots' with the amazing resolution of the 360 screen showed how good this would be when we got to the 'standards' further into the playlist. 'Magnificent' is one of my favourite of the newer U2 tracks as it speaks of 'call' and Bono's using of his gift [the voice of a tenor just like his dad] to engage in the activity of God in the world.
'What time is it now?' and the theme of time ran through the show as U2 made a simpler invitation this time around, about what kind of world we want it to be and how we have the opportunity to 'have a say' in that through our thoughts and actions...
'Mysterious Ways', 'Elevation' and 'Until the End of the World' continue the journey until 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' brings tears to the eyes.
In the 'middle' of the show Bono mentioned the late Michael Hutchence [former lead singer from INXS] who died not long before their PopMart shows in Sydney but it was weird juxtaposition having just done a 'shout out' to Bob Geldof 'in the house'. 'Stuck in a Moment' [included a 'Do They Know It's Christmas' snippet] and one of my favourite songs 'Bad' [punctuated with 'Need You Tonight' and 'Never Tear Us Apart'] gave way to 'In a Little While' and 'Miss Sarajevo' with the obligatory girl plucked from the audience to be serenaded and dance with Bono while like in many songs the original clip footage played in 360 on the amazing LED screen overhead.
The dominant themes of the last two tours gave way to a celebration of possibilities in making your own meaning: 'City of Blinding Lights', 'Vertigo', 'I'll Go Crazy' [and the remix went off] before 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' became one of my highlights of the night [including the addition of Jay-Z. I had been reminded of the bands show in Auckland just after the recent Pike River Mine disaster and their invitation that at times like those in Ireland when we don't know what to do 'We Sing!!" and I hoped it had helped some people...
It wasn't tired, didn't clash with the contemporary context the way some uses of it have [others have been spot on brilliant] but the song showed passion, anger and mostly determination and it felt like we were just getting started... 'Scarlet' with it's simple refrain of 'rejoice' celebrated the release of Aung San Sui Kyi but reminded us that 2300 political prisoners remain for the crime of 'believing in an Election result' so with a thankyou, U2 played 'Walk On' the best I've heard it while young people brought large paper lanterns to the circle stage and stood, then placed them on the edges for reflection. 'You'll Never Walk Alone' didn't quite seem to fit but the crowd joined in as it had all night when Bono stopped momentarily... It was sometime around here that I commented 'OK, let's go!!' and wasn't disappointed...
The encore allowed the shift to the great footage of 'The Arch' Desmond Tutu imploring us all to be ONE as an intro to another of my favourites. Bono then sang 'Amazing Grace' and while I was lost in listening I noticed a crowd either singing or wondering...
'Where the Streets Have No Name' was the best rendition of my favourite U2 track that I have ever heard live [even better than the 'Lovetown' tour and with man tears streaming down my face I joined in the singing at the risk of all my neighbours experience [not for the first time tonight]. I chuckled at the sms I received in 2006 from a friend who had been driving across the city that night and on spec pulled into Olympic Blvd thinking the traffic will have been altered and everyone will be inside, so that sitting on his car bonnet just outside he heard the strains of this song and texted me because he knew I would appreciate the moment!!
Original footage of Bono onscreen only added to the spectacle as the entire screen and lighting turned traditionally 'red' in reference to the original concert footage at Arizona's Sun Devil Stadium where the Daniel Lanois 'Rattle and Hum' documentary turned from black and white to full colour! Is it time for us to 'make poverty history', to treate others as equals, to change the world? all invoked not in words this time but in the tunes...
'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me' allowed Bono to show off a cool trapeze red led mic and red led jacket before 'With or Without You' and 'Moment of Surrender' just took off... the sound was just amazing and I commented later [largely due to these moments] that I didn't need to 'go to church' for another year, after that worship experience!! It all left me speechless for a few moments after as we trooped our way down the 'Yankee Stadium' styled cattle ramp exits which clear the stadium so quickly... encouraged to continue a journey of vulnerability, change and transformation!!

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