The first time I saw Irish rockers U2 live was back in 2009 when they brought their “360” tour to Vancouver.
Ever since I have been in love with their live shows. They put everything into creating immersively beautiful productions and I try my best to ensure I attend their shows when they come through town.
I knew from experience that I needed to arrive a little early to the venue so I could claim a good spot in the general admission floor area.
Once I parked and found my way near the stadium it seemed completely chaotic. There were signs guiding people into lines and some fencing to ensure those lines lead to an eventual end point but around the entrances, there was a real lack of guidance and further fencing to ensure those coming from every direction new where to go. This lead to some standing patiently in line for over an hour while others just walked up near the doors and stepped into wild clusters and then walking into the venue minutes later. It was really just a case of poor crowd management but it left more than a few patrons quite salty to the whole experience.
Once I was in the doors I headed right down to the floor and took up residence as close to the stage as I could.
Soon after, London=based rock outfit Mumford & Sons took the stage to warm up the crowd.
The band could very easily sell out their own arena tour but, according to band lead Marcus Mumford during his inter-song banter, “jumped at the chance” to open for their favourite band on this current tour.
Mumford & Sons Setlist
Little Lion Man
Below My Feet
Lover of the Light
Tompkins Square Park
Blind Leading the Blind
I Will Wait
The opening set was solid but short. The only real issue was the muddiness of the sound mix from the speakers, from where I was standing. The set was short lived, only spanning ten songs but it shook awake the audience and had everyone even more excited for the headliner.
After a brief interlude between acts, Larry Mullen Jr., the drummer, was first to saunter out on stage. As he sat behind his drumkit the rest of the crew strolled out and took their positions.
They kicked off the night with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from their 1983 compilation War. That was the catalyst that kicked the crowd into overdrive, the haunting echoes of fifty thousand people singing along from the first lyrics gave me goosebumps.
Bono, the lead singer, was his usual charismatic self. He stood centre of the b-stage, an extension of the main stage in the shape of a Joshua tree, and belted out the lyrics to each of the first few tracks as he leaned back and forth on his microphone stand.
Edge, the guitarist, stepped around the satellite stage playing to various areas of the audience. At moments, like a lone wolf, he would step away from the band and be in his own little world, playing wholeheartedly with a gentle grin on his face.
Adam Clayton, the bassist, kept to the front of the stage area. He stood closest to the crowd and seemed to interact with them the most. He was grinning as well but his seemed to go from ear to ear, just completely genuine.
Mr. Mullen was rock solid in his capacity behind the drumkit. He beat on the skins with a deep stroke and fluidity that made him captivating to watch.
Once the band wrapped the fifth song, they all ventured over to the main stage. The familiar opening of “Where The Streets Have No Name”, the first track from the band’s fifth album The Joshua Tree, rattled through the stadium.
Everyone knew what to expect from that point, the entire album was then played in full and in order. Even though this was the band’s fifth album, some would argue it was their most iconic and most widely recognisable.
For the next fifty minutes or so, those fifty thousand people sang in unison. We all sang, we all screamed those memorable lyrics with the band as loud as we could. It was intense and, for some, very emotional.
The backdrop of the main stage was a giant video screen, but this was not just some average concert display. It was a high-definition screen that streamed, what seemed to be, 4k or possibly even 8k video to accompany each song. Each clip was beautifully shot and they perfectly fit the subject matter of the song they were played with.
As the show wrapped up my throat was raw and my body was exhausted. I had been jumping around for about 4 hours or so.
The band stepped back out to the b-stage and took a bow as a group.
The audience started to filter out and I just stared back at the stage and smiled to myself.
The entire night was wonderful and the band were polished and poised.
Like I said, I always try to ensure I catch U2 when they come through, and every time I see them they reinforce that effort in my brain by putting on an epic performance.
Thank you to both bands and their crews for everything, I hope to see you come through town again some time in the near future.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year’s Day
A Sort of Homecoming (First performance since November 16, 2001)
MLK (First performance since October 8, 2010)
Pride (In the Name of Love)
The Joshua Tree:
Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
With or Without You
Bullet the Blue Sky
Running to Stand Still (First performance since July 15, 2005)
Red Hill Mining Town (Live Debut)
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires (First performance since December 20, 1987)
One Tree Hill (First performance since July 5, 2011)
Exit (First performance since October 18, 1989; “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” snippet)
Mothers of the Disappeared (First performance since September 15, 2010; “El Pueblo Vencera” snippet)
Ultraviolet (Light My Way) (First performance since July 9, 2011)
Miss Sarajevo (Passengers cover) (First performance since July 30, 2011)
The Little Things That Give You Away (Live Debut; Songs of Experience track)