Opening Act(s): Keane
City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Elevation, I Will Follow, All I Want Is You, Beautiful Day, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Miss Sarajevo, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One. Encore(s): The First Time, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, With Or Without You, All Because Of You, Fast Cars, Original Of The Species, 40.
Bono spots a fan talking on a cell phone. He takes the phone and screams at the fan, but later apologizes for the outburst. On the subject of phones, Bono calls Gavin Friday during the show and gets the whole crowd to sing 'Happy Birthday' before hanging up. Mary J. Blige joins the band to sing 'One,' just as she did last month in Toronto at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon. Jon Bon Jovi and Salman Rushdie are among many notable names in the audience.
U2 Review at Madison Square Garden
By Chris Lowrey ([email protected])
As an opening Id like to pose the question.
Who really does not like U2?
Whether its the real early times with anthems such as Gloria and New Years Day early times with anthems such as Sunday Bloody Sunday and critically acclaimed masterpieces such as the Under and Blood Red Sky Joshua Tree and the Unforgettable Fire an interlude with Rattle and Hum through the 90s with the brilliant Achtung Baby featuring the remarkable One, Zooropa including The Edges lead vocal debut on Numb or Johnny Cash dueting with Bono on The Wanderer and even Pop with its trance grooves right up to the 00s on All that you cant leave behind (including new Wedding song favorite:Beautiful Day) and most recently How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb with the back-to-form Vertigo ode to New York City of Blinding Lights and optimistic Miracle Drug U2 have always been there for the masses.
Rare, indeed, is it to find a band that is able to infuse such strong political and humanitarian content/causes into its music and actually make them tuneful, sing along-good songs at the same time! And while The Edges staccato riffing can at times sound like other tunes in their repertoire it has evolved and been tweaked enough to make their 26 year career full of variety and hit tunes so as to allow for two maybe even three totally different set lists without repeating tunes!
It never happens like that of course, most bands have to stick to similar set lists for logistical reasons and it is the same with U2 although one look below can see how they are able to keep each night fresh for their adoring fans who well might attend more than one concert on any given tour!
It was an extremely wet Saturday in New York but huge full-page headlines of Bomb Scare in the Subway and a mere few inches of rain werent enough to keep the masses from Madison Square Garden on this night. The support act Keane, an up and coming English band with a singer, keyboardist and drummer (no guitarist in sight!) warmed the growing crowd up with their melancholic and beautifully sung tunes owing a lot to U2 as singer Tom Chaplin mentioned on several occasions. This band with parts of Coldplay, Travis and Starsailor are yet distinctive enough and have the charm and presence to ensure a burgeoning career will continue in an upward trajectory. Groups of young women around my area sang along to many tunes including the brilliant Everybodys Changing and This is the Last Time from their debut album Hopes and Fears and the signs are good for a long and illustrious career for the three Englishmen.
Right on cue at the stroke of 9:30 the lights went down and a tremendous roar erupted as Larry Mullen Jr, Adam Clayton, The Edge and finally Bono emerged from various parts of the stage and the stunning sound and light show commenced with the tribute to New York City of Blinding Lights What a way to get 20,000 rabid New Yorkers into the groove!
The stage itself was circular with wild snippets of light flashing and chasing each other around the floor in patterns as the band performed. The outer stage which was a two metre wide oval, encapsulating the lucky fans in The Pit and allowing band members to get out and closer to their audience- it also featured the blipping, racing lights resembling a gigantic circular heart rate machine. Most stunning of all however was the giant clear glass/Perspex type tubes which hung down at the back and sides of the stage and were raised and lowered on cue, these resembled giant door hangings that one may have on their caravan annex to keep flies out over the Summer and at various times had images of New York buildings, International flags and humans in a kind of join the dots formula that was visually stunning!
The familiar refrain of Un, deux, trios, quatre heralded the arrival of the best promotional tool Apple Ipod has ever had in the form of monster world wide hit and tour title Vertigo The crowd participation was astonishing even threatening to drown out the band at one stage and even dwarfing my memories of an English soccer final! This dancing, clapping and vociferous singing continued through the tracks Elevation and I Will Follow and on everyones wet clothing was now accentuated by sweat as well as the New York downpour- The Hoo
Hoo. chant in Elevation had Bono grinning from ear to ear.
At this point I commented to my concert going partner Anna How will they keep this up? and true to form like the old pros they are, the ballad All I Want is you followed allowing the punters to relax their bodies if not their voices. This was short-lived as the band bounced into Beautiful Day causing the already fever pitch atmosphere to grow another leg. Miracle Drug undispersed with People Got the Power was well-received and set the tone for many messages of world peace and living together that underpinned the evening either directly or indirectly World Peace, as tired and general as it can sometimes sound, cant be a bad thing!
The next couple of tunes echoes Miracle Drugs ballad tone and wistful introspection was palpable in the crowd as Bono crooned Sometimes You Cant Make it on Your Own and Love and Peace or Else. The crowd erupted again for Sunday Bloody Sunday seemingly trying to outdo the live version of the same song off THAT live album so many moons ago. Perhaps they had inside knowledge that the gig was being recorded for a future live release as in 100s of concerts I havent heard anything like it on tonights effort U2 Live from Madison Square Garden would make such an effective live album so as not to require overdubs of any description (excepts perhaps the false start The Edge had on the acoustic guitar for Whos Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses to which Bono laughingly mocked his long time pal with a friendly Thats not very professional)
The medley of Bullet The Blue Sky / The Hands That Built America / When Johnny Comes Marching Home, was stunning and had every American in the house (AND some Australians) feeling supremely patriotic!
Next up came the highlight of the night: Miss Sarajevo in which Bono told the story of the young woman who performed a beauty pageant amidst a hail of mortar and bullets in defiance of war on her city. He also told us that although Luciano Pavarotti was not there to sing his part, he was and would do both! What followed was the most moving moment of the night as Bono seemed to take on the persona AND voice of Pavarotti singing the part completely in Italian and hitting the notes so well that Im sure the great man would have clapped as wildly and had tears in his eyes as most in the house did. The highlight of the night for yours truly!
The still resonant and relevant Pride (In the Name of Love followed, whipping the crowd back to fever pitch before Where the Streets have No Name maintained the passion. The next surprise and the final song of the set, was the entrance of Mary J Blige who dueted with Bono on the bands signature tune One. Although I felt she was a bit rusty for the first couple of lines (but that could have been due to an hour and a half of attuning my ears to Bonos still powerful vocals!) she redeemed herself and really enhanced the song with her arms draped around Bono to receive rapturous applause at the conclusion of the tune!
After a brief interlude the Bono and The Edge returned with the The First Time and the acoustic Whos Gonna Ride Your Wild horses at the top of the larger oval part of the stage and when Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton returned for With or Without You the crowd were already back in the bands hands. A very touching moment occurred when Bono danced with a pretty young woman, during With
and then picked out another girl to dance with before finally pulling a heavy set man wearing a turban onto the stage and dancing with and hugging him! The turban-wearing guy sang with gusto and the moment was unbelievably poignant and followed the nights theme we are all in this world together!
The final encore of All Because Of You, Fast Cars and Original Of The Species capped the night off beautifully but the very LAST song, my favorite, the fabulous 40 closed the night off in spectacular fashion. Even 5 minutes after the lights went down the crowd were still singing How looooong, to sing this song, How looooong, to sing this song. How looooong, to sing this song over and over and over. Incredible this was STILL happening as we walked down 5 or 6 flights from the top tier at Madison! No kidding people were still singing this refrain as they walked right back out into the heavy rain and down the subway to catch the Bomb Threatened Subway trains!
The gig was beyond stunning and exceeded my expectations in every facet, the band still sound in top form- form they have held for at least 20 years and at the end of their career I wonder if anyone will be more revered other than the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
Set List on Saturday Night!
1.City Of Blinding Lights,
2.Vertigo / Glad To See You Go (snippet),
4.I Will Follow,
5.All I Want Is You,
7.Miracle Drug / People Got The Power (snippet),
8.Sometimes You Can\'t Make It On Your Own / The Black Hills of Dakota (snippet),
9.Love And Peace Or Else,
10.Sunday Bloody Sunday,
11.Bullet The Blue Sky / The Hands That Built America (snippet) / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet),
13.Pride (In The Name Of Love),
14.Where The Streets Have No Name,
15.One (Duet with Mary J Blige)
16.The First Time,
17.Who\'s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,
18.With Or Without You,
19.All Because Of You,
21.Original Of The Species,
Set list from the night before!
1.City Of Blinding Lights,
2.Vertigo / Rockaway Beach (snippet),
4.The Electric Co. / People I Don\'t Know Are Trying To Kill Me (snippet),
5.I Still Haven\'t Found What I\'m Looking For / In A Little While (snippet),
6.Beautiful Day / Sgt. Pepper\'s Lonely Hearts Club Band (snippet) / Blackbird (snippet) / Many Rivers To Cross (snippet) / Across The Universe (snippet),
7.Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can\'t Make It On Your Own / The Black Hills of Dakota (snippet) / Torna A Surriento (snippet),
8. Love And Peace Or Else,
9.Sunday Bloody Sunday,
10.Bullet The Blue Sky / Please (snippet) / The Hands That Built America (snippet) / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet),
12.Pride (In The Name Of Love),
13.Where The Streets Have No Name, One / Ol\' Man River (snippet)
14.The First Time,
15.Stuck In A Moment You Can\'t Get Out Of,
17.All Because Of You,
18.Crumbs From Your Table,
20.With Or Without You