Friday, September 25, 2009

'The wheels fly and the colors spin..'

We went to Giants Stadium last night to see U2. Remarkably, this Irish boy had never seen them play live before. The stage set just looked incredible - even from the top tier - the extent of its complexity shown by how many equipment flight cases were stacked around the mezzanine level.

A couple of decades ago I'd seen David Bowie's 'Glass Spider' show at Wembley, and tonight's spaceship setup reminded me a bit of that stage, but on a much, much grander scale. Weirdly, the stadium PA was playing 'Space Oddity' just as the lights started to go down.

This was the second night for the band (Jon Pareles' review of the first night in the NYTimes is here) and the boys were in fine form, matching intensity and emotion in a way I'd experienced only rarely at a show this big (there were about 80,000 people in the stadium, hardly what you'd call intimate).

But there were definite moments of connection - 'Walk On's dedication to Aung San Suu Kyi, featuring supporters of Amnesty International encircling the stage, as well as Bono's running with a child during 'City of Blinding Lights' and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's uplifting oration on the 360 screen before 'One'.

The whole show was brilliantly impressive: professional, and perfectly paced. But for me the songs that really stood out were a couple of new ones: 'Unknown Caller' and 'I'll Go Crazy', as well as a couple of oldies that have maintained their power for more than 25 years: 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' - its point as sharp as ever, despite being transposed from Derry to Tehran - and 'The Unforgettable Fire', its timeless riffs make it one of the most perfect of pop songs.

While the crowd hung on Bono's every word, The Edge kept his guitar tech busy: a Les Paul for the opener, then a Telecaster and a Rickenbacker before the Explorer for 'Beautiful Day', then an SG and a Strat, another Les Paul.. you get the drift.

Here's last night's full setlist:

Get On Your Boots
She Moves In Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
No Line On The Horizon
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For/Stand By Me
Unknown Caller
Until The End Of The World
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On

Amazing Grace / Where The Streets Have No Name
UltraViolet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender

This compilation clip gives a pretty good flavor of the evening (props to kskobac for a great job and a quick turnaround)

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