Friday, December 17, 2010

360°

I went to see the U2 360° tour!!!

I've been a fan of U2 since I was in high school. I was never big on music when I was young, but U2 was one of the first bands that I began listening to late in high school, helping me to develop an interest in music generally. I still remember that their album "All That You Can't Leave Behind" was one of the first I ever bought.

People may complain that they're too political or that they've got problems with Bono, but I still like their music. It's strange hearing people criticise them, often the criticisms seem to have nothing to do with their music and performances, but more to do with "who" they are.

None of this was going to stop me enjoying my first ever U2 concert though. This was the 360° tour as well! I had wanted to see this since I had first seen the incredible circular stage set up.
The opening act was not to be ignored either! It was Jay-Z!!!

It seemed like a strange opening act. A hip hop artist doesn't really come to mind as a natural opening act for U2, but I wasn't complaining.

Jay-Z was fantastic and the crowd definitely appreciated what they were hearing.

Seeing him live wasn't something I had ever expected I would experience, so hearing him rapping out "99 Problems" and "Empire State of Mind" seemed almost surreal.
Andy in particular enjoyed Empire State of Mind. He's heading to New York next year on secondment, so this song game him more than enough opportunity to gloat to the rest of us.
As great as it was hearing Jay Z and showing him our "diamonds", he was still just an opener. It's amazing to think that U2 is so massive that someone as famous and talented as Jay Z is willingly reduced to being a warm up act (though a very fine warm up act he was).

Still, not everyone was as keen as the boys and I were to see Jay Z and the stadium crowd reflected this. There were a lot of people, but most people were still filtering in as Jay Z finished up.

The clock on the stage began to slowly countdown.
At "midnight" the clock began to break apart.
The song "Space Oddity" by David Bowie began to play as the stadium erupted!

U2 began their slow march towards the stage, with smoke filling the ground like four astronauts approaching the launching pad.
It didn't take long for the stadium to erupt again as they began playing "Beautiful Day"!
Seeing this concert live was more than I could have hoped for. It is a true sensual immersion as you find it difficult to work out where exactly to look.
The cylindrical screen they use is also something special.

During the performance, it began to open out like a concertina.
The screen became more than just a place to watch the video, as it transformed into a light show that filled the entire stadium with colour.
The screen then changed again, to float images only slightly off the stage.
I was amazed by the set list that U2 had chosen as well. The concert seemed to keep going and going (in a good way). I later found out that they played 24 songs! If nothing else, they definitely gave value for money.
It was also great to see them playing some of their classics. Songs like "Sunday Bloody Sunday" being played to the stage being illuminated in Irish green were very inspiring.
As the night wore on, it seemed as though they were done and the band did a few bows and the lights went out.

Some people began to filter out of the stadium, but then the stage began to glow an eerie red.
The band reappeared on stage, with Bono decked out in leather jacket covered in red lasers.
The lights slowly began to change from the red to blue as Bono asked the audience to turn on their mobile phones.
Combined with the lights shining off the mirror balls, the entire stadium began to glow.
The crowd looked like a moving sea of lights as the band sang "With or Without You".
It was hard to not be awe struck.
video

This band has been around for so long, and yet they still seem more than capable of capturing the imagination of audiences everywhere. It was definitely an experience to be remembered.

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