Tuesday, October 6, 2009

U2 - Charlottesville review, Third Eye Blind, Richmond Roots Music Sessions

Will probably a couple short entries this week especially if the baseball games are anything like tonight's game. The Twins-Tigers one-game playoff for the AL Central crown tonight was an all-time classic. 162 games wasn't enough, 9 innnings wasn't enough, an exciting game through and through. And I must say thank you to the inventor of the DVR for allowing me to watch that game in its entireity even though I gave the kids a bath and put them to bed. It will also allow me to watch the Phils game tomorrow after work even though its a 2:30 PM start. I just need to avoid all media until I can get home. GO PHILLIES!

Anyway on to the U2 review and what a show it was. My appreciation of the show was certainly helped by the fact that Gordon and I got into the inner circle of the massive stage and were 25 ft. from the band between Bono and Adam Clayton. When the boys would walk on the outer circle, we were only 10 feet away. Here is the setlist:
10/01/2009 Scott Stadium - Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Breathe, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day / The Hands That Built America (snippet), No Line On The Horizon, Magnificent, Elevation, Your Blue Room, New Year's Day, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Movin' On Up (snippet), Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, The Unforgettable Fire, City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again) (snippet) / I Want To Take You Higher (snippet), Sunday Bloody Sunday / People Get Ready (snippet), MLK, Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)
encores: One / Amazing Grace (snippet), Where The Streets Have No Name, Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment of Surrender
comment: Ninth consecutive concert at which Pride is not played; this is a record, beating eight consecutive shows in March/April 2001.

The show opens with two from the new album. Breathe was great, Get On Your Boots hasn't really done it for me yet.

Things really get cooking with Mysterious Ways as we watch Clayton lay down the bass line and the bridges linking the stage with the outer ring swing nearly over our heads and Bono and Clayton pass over.

Beautiful Day was, well, beautiful with stage breaking out into rainbow colors. No Line on the Horizon is one of my favorites from the new album but I don't know how familiar the crowd was with it. I expected the "Woooa - woooa - woooa - wooo!" lines to get more audience participation. It was sometimes hard to tell how much the crowd was getting in the stands was getting it because we were so close. Elevation, however, was the first song were I felt like the crowd and band really got together. Everyone on the floor was bouncing up and down and I think the band started to feel the love. Your Blue Room was a real wild card, an obscure track from the Passengers CD. I had just discovered this song when it popped up on my iPod while I was mowing the lawn the previous weekend and was instantly taken by it, listening to it a couple times. So needless to say I was quite pleased when they went into it and it provided a breathy, psychedelic moment to cool down and catch air. The space visuals worked well with the song also, equating the blue room of the girl in the song to images of the blue Earth from space.

New Year's Day and Still Haven't Found were standard, nothing new there. Stuck In a Moment was just Bono and the Edge on acoustic guitar. Not one of my favorite U2 songs. Don't dislike it but can take it or leave it. However, Bono and Edge harmonized quite well on this one with Edge really showing off that falsetto he has and getting a hug from Bono at the end.

At this point the show really started to take off for me. This was also the point where the video screen surrounding the top of the stage began to expand downward like a trellis and the light show really kicked in. Unforgettable Fire was an unexpected but welcome song in the set. I had forgotten (pun intended) how great this song is and Bono really nailed the vocals. (The sound isn't so hot on this clip but you get a nice view of the stage.)

City of Blinding Lights was fab (I've been singing it all day today) with Bono coming to the outer circle near us to get the crowd singing the "Oh...you... look...so...beautiful toniiiight!" chorus.

Vertigo truly sucked me into a Vertigo with the lights on the video screen spinning around and actually making me dizzy but in a good way not a puking kind of way.

Next came the highlight of the show for me, the new song I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight. They changed the arrangement from the album to turn this into an extended drums/bass rave-up. The whole band took to the outer circle, including Larry Mullen on a djembe drum. The crowd on the floor was dancing like crazy and the whole band ended up near us on the outer circle for the last part of the song and the pit around us turned into beautiful, crazy dancing chaos. One of those moments when I felt truly transported by the music and the crowd.

Sunday Bloody Sunday was made contemporary with Bono and the stage visuals placing it in the context of the Iranian revolution after the elections earlier this year. The politics continued with Walk On becoming a truly moving tribute to about Burma's Ang San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 20 years. The outer circle was completely manned by volunteers from Amnesty International wearing Ang San Suu Kyi masks. It threatened to get a little cheesy but the conviction of the band and the realization of what Ang San Suu Kyi has been through pulled it through.

During the break before the encore, they played a pretty cool short speech from Bishop Desmond Tutu on the video screens. It compared people who fight for human rights all over the world and the twinkle in his eye and his beatific smile really pull you in and he ended by saying "We are all One", which of course led into One.

As much as Bono has sung this song in his lifetime, he still sings this with absolute conviction and feeling and it really is one of the great songs of rock and roll. Where the Streets Have No Name was good but standard.

My second highlight came next with the performance of Ultraviolet (Light My Way). A microphone dropped from the top of the stage that had a round neon light around it (if you saw their performance of this at the end of SNL a couple weeks ago you know what I'm talking about). Bono was wearing a jacked with LED lights in it and when the dry ice fog surrounded him it looked like he was emanating needles of red light. The microphone was on a high-strength cable so Bono was hanging off of it and swinging over the crowd at times. Combined with a transcendent perfromance of the song, it was a true sight to behold.

With or Without You was next and then the show ended with one of my favorite songs from the new album, Moment of Surrender, and was given a great performance.

Everyone I spoke with liked the opening band Muse and their industrial 80's meets metal sound was pretty good.

U2 should be back in the spring for more stadium dates in the US. If you go, buy the $50 General Admission seats and get in early because they let the first 2000 people into the inner circle. It was not overly crowded in there and even if you don't get in there, you can get a nice spot on the outer circle. I'm hoping to catch the show again in the spring.

Now quickly because I need to get some sleep before work, Wednesday nights shows in Richmond.

Third Eye Blind will be at The National. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8 with opener Blueskyreality. Tix are $27.50.

The Richmond Roots Music Seessions continue with Brad Spivey and the Honky Tonk Experience (country honky tonk freakout) - with - Hamburger James (rock-a-billy) & David Shultz and the Skyline (alt-country) at the Hat Factory. Doors open at 8 and tix are $10.

See you tomorrow.

Tony Jordan