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Memories and megascreens: the band breaks down their arena takeover from the ceiling to the set lists

By Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

It's about 25 hours before U2 kick off their Innocence + Experience tour at Vancouver's Rogers Arena and Bono is sitting on a plush couch in a backstage lounge near the Edge. He's fiddling with a laptop and looking at a CDR recorded at a recent tour rehearsal. Right outside the door, walkie talkie-wielding tour personnel frantically run about as they prepare for the big night, but Bono seems completely relaxed. Adam Clayton walks in, hands him a cup of tea and then vanishes. We're instructed to sit between Bono and the Edge, knowing their schedule is insanely tight and they only have 20 minutes to chat.

We have 21 questions prepared, but since Bono isn't a man known for his brevity, we only manage to ask about eight. But the band manages to cover a lot of ground - even if we don't get to discuss the status of Songs of Experience or see if they're finally willing to cave and perform super rarities "Acrobat" and "Drowning Man" at some point on the tour.

U2 tour review: Seeing is disbelieving

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Jon Swartz, USA TODAY

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A U2 show comes with heightened expectations and an almost euphoric anticipation for a cultural touchstone. It's an impossibly high bar to meet.

For more than two hours last night, the seminal Irish rock band did just that.

A blistering start and finish book-ended a tech-tinged show that is bombastic, brilliantly absurd arena rock.

U2 kicked off its U.S. leg of the Innocence & Experience tour under vexing circumstances: a physically damaged lead singer and a record, Songs of Innocence, that sparked a backlash after it was distributed for free to 500 million people via iTunes in September. (U2 is working on a new album, Songs of Experience.)

From those setbacks, the venerable band saw the opportunity to turn uncertainty into a platform to redefine its place in rock 'n' roll's pantheon.

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Eight ways in which U2 changed things up for night two of the 'Innocence + Experience' tour

by Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

U2's Innocence + Experience tour nearly came to an extremely premature end at the end of opening night when the Edge took a nasty tumble into the audience, and on the second consecutive show at Vancouver's Rogers Arena Bono joined the many people on the Internet today cracking jokes about the incident. "Somebody said that the Edge had downloaded himself into the audience without asking permission," he said. "I thought that was great."

Considering this was only the second show of a tour utilizing an incredibly complex stage and a ton of brand new songs, the group could have easily played it safe by replicating opening night, but they opted to mix it up. Here's eight ways in which it differed.

They Honored B.B. King. It was a given that U2 would find a way to honor the blues legend since they recorded and toured together in the 1980s, becoming close friends in the process. It came fifteen songs in when they moved to the B stage. "This is a very special occasion for anyone who loves the blues," Bono told the crowd. "For this is the day that the world got to say goodbye to the great B.B. King. That is a special occasion indeed." They then played "When Loves Come To Town" for the first time in 23 years. Hearing the tune with Bono covering all of King's lines was a sad reminder that B.B. truly is gone. "Wow," Bono said at the end. "The thrill will never be gone."

Latest U2 Concert

Opening Act(s): None

Setlist:

  1. The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
  2. The Electric Co. - I Can See for Miles
  3. Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? - Vertigo
  4. I Will Follow
  5. Iris (Hold Me Close)
  6. Cedarwood Road
  7. Song for Someone
  8. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  9. Raised by Wolves
  10. Until the End of the World
  11. Intermission
  12. Invisible
  13. Even Better Than the Real Thing
  14. Mysterious Ways - Young Americans
  15. Desire - 1969
  16. Sweetest Thing
  17. Every Breaking Wave
  18. Bullet the Blue Sky - America - 19
  19. The Hands That Built America - Pride (In the Name of Love)
  20. Beautiful Day
  21. Bad - Into the Mystic - Moment of Surrender
  22. With or Without You
  23. Encore(s):
  24. City of Blinding Lights
  25. Mother and Child Reunion - Where the Streets Have No Name - California (There Is No End to Love)
  26. One - Invisible

Remarks:

The second show in San Jose featured "The Electric Co." (instead of "Out of Control") as the second song in the setlist. It's the first time since February 12, 2006 on the Vertigo Tour that the song had been performed live. U2 also included a bit of "I Can See for Miles" right after that song, as it was The Who's Pete Townshend's 70th birthday. Dave Goldberg, the husband of Facebook Chief operating officer/ONE board member Sheryl Sandberg, was also honored with "Iris (Hold Me Close)" and "One". The Silicon Valley dedications continued with "Sweetest Thing" going to Jonathan Ive, the Senior Vice President of Design at Apple Computer.

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