If there is a band today that can be considered larger than life, it’s U2, and their 360 Tour is a testament to how large they can actually be. Breaking attendance records set by The Rolling Stones during their “Bigger Bang” tour in 2007, this tour is as imaginative and as large as anything you’ll ever see anywhere. With an amazing stage known simply as “The Claw,” an expansive sound system, a gigantic round video board, and enough lasers and lights to blind you from miles away, this is the epitome of “Showtime.”
Flying into Seattle on Thursday I could see “The Claw” being built and what an amazing design it is! It looks like a giant space ship with its 3 spider legs and a pointed sphere on top that points to the heavens and with alien-themed videos, a recorded piece by Commander Mark E. Kelly of the Endeavor and multiple references by Bono to “their spaceship” blasting off, U2 seemed poised to blow us all away with enough firepower generally reserved for a space shuttle launch!
With over 65,000 in attendance at Qwest Field on a beautiful summer night, U2 hit the stage, strolling in as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” announced their entrance and then they ripped into “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The pace didn’t slow down much as the evening progressed. With a multi-generational set list that features so many great hits, this could have been a greatest hits tour and the crowd would have been satisfied but Bono wasn’t gonna let that happen. With a stage presence that is unparalleled to any other performer, Bono, ever the philanthropist, had many stories to tell and a few causes to applaud and never once did it feel forced even when the show got bombastic and over-the-top.
Being a big fan of U2 and having listened to their music for so many years, I am convinced that they are one of the few bands that still exist that can put on this type of show and make their music sound BETTER than that on their albums. U2 is an arena rock band and given the stage, they know how to use it. Songs such as “Get On Your Boots,” “Crazy Tonight,” and “Stay” are much more powerful live than they are on their albums and it’s entirely because of the showmanship of Bono and the boys.
There were so many highlights in this jaw-dropping set that I can’t even begin to write about them all here but here are just a few that I will never forget…
- Commander Kelly’s introduction to “Beautiful Day.” As he floated in the Endeavor, he placed a special message in front of the camera and they floated away. All the while he quoted Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and seemed to be having a great time!
- Bono’s glowing laser suit and the red wheel microphone used for the encore performance of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.” Seriously, this might have been my favorite performance. I had almost totally forgotten about this song and with Bono swinging in on the mic itself, it was as visually stimulating as it was bombastic. My ears are still ringing and I love it!
- Burmese president Aung San Suu Kyi’s introduction to “One.” Her son Alexander was in the crowd and Bono spent much time applauding the humanitarian efforts to break her free of her house arrest.
- The beautiful rendition of “All I Want Is You.” One of my personal favorites and a pleasant surprise.
- When the video boards scissored open to drop down in front of the band and then they ripped into a 3-song set that started with “Zooropa,” followed by “City of Blinding Lights” and ended with “Vertigo” (which I had literally as the video flew in circles creating a visual assault that sent the me reeling!).
- During their final song, “Moment Of Surrender,” Bono asked to dim the lights and invited everyone to light up the night with our cell phones. Being on the floor, I could see all the twinkling lights and it was a stunning display and a great way to end an amazing night!
I am and will always be a huge U2 fan but this performance was far beyond anything I was expecting. It literally blew my socks off and I was as entertained as I have ever been at ANY event in my life. The music was amazing, the visuals were unbelievable and the feeling of being in a crowd filled with 65,000 people who had waited almost a year to see the band was overwhelming. It was a show I will never forget and I wish I could see it again before they pull the plug. With only 15 more dates, the 360 Tour ends in the United States on July 26th in Pittsburgh. I suggest you see it before it’s over. It’s worth every penny and who knows what kind of surprises the band will have in store before it’s all said & done?
And The Set List:
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. I Will Follow
3. Get On Your Boots
5. Mysterious Ways
7. Until The End Of The World
8. All I Want Is You
10. Beautiful Day
11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
12. Miss Sarajevo
14. City Of Blinding Lights
16. Crazy Tonight
18. Sunday Bloody Sunday
20. Walk On
22. Where The Streets Have No Name
23. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
24. With Or Without You
25. Moment OF Surrender