A friend and I attended the U2 360-Tour concert Tuesday night in Rice-Eccles stadium. It was a cool night, considering it was May 24th. But the concert was fun and the crowd had a good time. Everyone around me stood for the majority of the concert.
Bono and U2 plugged a variety of causes, principally Amnesity International. But these divergences into international politics didn’t really interfere with the music, and enhanced it for me. There were short video clips of Burma’s most famous dissident, South Africa’s Bishop Tutu, a Sarajevo beauty contest, etc. Before the concert, the screen displayed “real-time” info about the state of the planet, and the corresponding time (of day) in various cities around the world. Anyone who is familiar with Bono’s obsessions knew all this was coming.
Other graphics displayed on the gigantic (360-degree) screen included a woman dancing and being transformed into a variety of interesting geometric configurations (think the start of a James Bond movie), early images of the band, a clip of the astronauts in the space station, and, of course, live images while the band played. And there was that strange cartoon at the end of the show that I didn’t understand.
Small divergences from their own material included using David Bowie’s Space Oddity as an intro, Bono soloing the first verse of Blowing in the Wind, and the crowd singing Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan (his 70th). These were all neatly packaged throughout the show. Bono seemed remarkably healthy after his back operation, and The Edge did great work on the guitar.
The stage looked like a gigantic claw with a tower stuck up the middle. On top of the tower was a large mirror ball which was used at the end of the show. At various times the stage was made to look like a garden, a spaceship, a Christmas tree, or just a wild collection of flashing colors. To put all this together required a cast of hundreds and a large fleet of semis and other assorted vehicles.
I need to make one comment about Bono’s causes. I travel to Africa frequently and enjoy Uganda immensely. His support for Africa is greatly appreciated. But there seems a strange disconnect between the money spent to mount this type of concert, and the need in developing countries. I wonder if the money could be better spent. I almost felt guilty attending the concert. ALMOST.
However, having said that, I greatly enjoyed the concert. It was good fun.
I’m 66, and my introduction to U2 was through my son who will soon be 40. A couple of years ago, my family and I watched the U2 concert film at the local IMAX theater. It was filmed during performances in Brazil and Argentina. It represents a great companion piece to one of U2’s live concerts.