Opening Act(s): Snow Patrol
Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day - Alison, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Elevation, Your Blue Room, Unknown Caller, Until The End Of The World, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), The Unforgettable Fire, City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On, One - Amazing Grace, Where The Streets Have No Name. Encore(s): Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment Of Surrender.
Toronto’s Rogers Centre has its roof open for only the 2nd time in rock concert history for tonight’s U2 concert (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the former SkyDome in 2003 with the roof open as well). Pride (In The Name Of Love) is surprisingly absent in the 2nd consecutive show on the U2 360° Tour. Elvis Costello’s “Alison” and “Pump It Up” appear in as snippets during the concert as well. “Your Blue Room” is once again performed after making its debut in Chicago on September 13, 2009. Also, exactly 4 years ago on this date, U2 performed in Toronto for the 3rd time at the Air Canada Centre on their Vertigo Tour.
U2 blows roof off Rogers Centre
by Ashante Infantry
The weather has been a sore spot for Torontonians in recent months, but last night Mother Nature gave a boost to the year’s biggest concert.
A breezy, but clear evening allowed the Rogers Centre’s retractable roof to be open as U2 kicked off its two-night stand - a sellout concert for only the second time in the venue’s history. (The first was a Bruce Springsteen show in the SkyDome six years ago.)
With the CN Tower beckoning like a lighthouse, it was the ideal setting for the four-legged, 30-metre-high, teal-and-orange spaceship contraption hovering over the quartet’s circular stage. It gave the appearance that they had really dropped in from another galaxy.
It’s a generous piece of machinery that takes four days to build; as a result, the group’s been hanging about, allowing lead singer Bono to pick up the TTC and Yonge St. references he dropped into songs and patter last night.
Stuck as they were in the middle of a football field, the mammoth stage, which includes an expandable cylindrical video screen, worked to bring what some call the Biggest Band in the World a little closer to the 58,000 people who shelled out from $30 to $225 for the privilege.
The otherworldly theme was enhanced by a recording of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that welcomed the veteran Irish rockers to the stage.
Not resting on any 30-year laurels, they kicked off with four songs from their current and 12th album No Line on the Horizon - the title track, “Breathe,” “Get on Your Boots” and “Magnificent.” The latter hit home with the hope and realism that defines their best work - “Only love can leave such a mark/But only love can heal such a scar.”
Then they delved into their bag of hits for “Beautiful Day” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” - for which the crowd sang the first two choruses as Bono mouthed words, resuming the singalong when he segued into Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
“We got old songs, we got new songs, we got songs we can hardly play,” the frontman had joked. Never saw any signs of the latter.
This was the second city in the North American edition of the 360 Degree Tour that debuted in Europe this summer. (Live Nation reps say it’s on track to be the year’s top-grossing tour.)
It’s a satisfying spectacle, with enviable musicianship - Edge the most dominant, with his intense ringing sound on electric guitar (and a deft acoustic turn on “Stay (Faraway, So Close)” - fantastic sound and consistent energy and emotion. They made use of the stage, wandering its outer rim and running across the moving bridges. Even drummer Larry Mullen Jr. left his kit at one point to walk around playing portable congas.
Bono, as limber physically as he was vocally, was jumping, skipping, spinning with arms outstretched. And they made sure to hit the political marks - dedicating “Walk On” to Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi as fans walk the stage perimeter with paper masks, and running a video message of peace and unity from South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Yeah, they’re big, but still bold, brilliant and true to form.
© 2009 Toronto Star
Photos by Peter Power, Globe and Mail