Opening Act(s): Muse
Breathe, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day - The Hands That Built America, No Line On The Horizon, Magnificent, Elevation, Your Blue Room, New Year's Day, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, 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. Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace, Where The Streets Have No Name, Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment Of Surrender.
U2 perform their first concert in over 17 years in the state of Virginia and the very first show ever in the town of Charlottesville. Also, "The Hands That Built America" is snippeted right after Beautiful Day.
U2's spectacle in Charlottesville
By Melissa Ruggieri
Published: October 2, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE U2 has always been a thoughtful band, but with each tour they manage to add new layers of reflection.
The star of the show is still Bono, who, despite looking eerily like Robin Williams with a brogue, continues to command attention with his Messianic poses and chest-thumping passion.
But the band's ego is in an interesting place on this tour. The 164-foot stage, a crustaceanlike hump that could have sprung from the imagination of George Lucas, along with the 360-degree LED screen that circled its pulsing red core and two moving bridges that transported the musicians between stage levels, is probably the grandest structure ever to house a live show.
U2 hasn't imagined a stadium tour since 1997's much-maligned "Pop" outing, and this inventive, smoke-breathing monstrosity erected at Scott Stadium last night allowed them to rightly puff out their chests over the continued scope of their success.
But, ironically, performing on the biggest stage shrank the presence of Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton -- all of whom looked like toy action figures, even from the priciest seats.
Granted, that honeycomb video screen, which stretched vertically and swirled images of the band, specialized video elements (during a tight rave-up recast of "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight") and messages of politics and peace (during the sumptuous prayer "Walk On") was worth gaping at for two hours.
And, even if band members were momentarily lost on the airy stage, there was never a problem hearing them. Stadium shows are notorious for their muddled sound that dissipates into the night air, but U2's sound system and mix were among the cleanest heard in any venue and Bono's husky pipes were in muscular form.
Of the band's material from the current "No Line on the Horizon," it was the pungent slap of fuzz behind "Get On Your Boots" -- which would have been an ideal opening song instead of "Breathe" -- that invigorated the crowd of about 60,000 early in the uneven first hour of the show.
The Edge and bassist Clayton had fun maneuvering the slippery groove of "Mysterious Ways," but following it with the obscure "Your Blue Room," a plodding rumination that consumed precious set list space that a dozen other songs deserved, briefly sank the mood.
But then came the soul-gripping optimism of "Beautiful Day" and the introspective ache of "Stuck in A Moment You Can't Get Out Of," performed acoustically by Bono and The Edge in one of those scenes that made you long for a U2 show in a setting a bit more intimate than a football field.
Bono did give recognition to his Charlottesville surroundings by asking at one point, "Is Mr. Jefferson in the house?" and introduced the band with campus-friendly titles (Mullen the "jock," Clayton "the friend of cheerleaders"). He also gave shout-outs to Fredericksburg and, uh, Manassas.
Of course, every U2 show has its magical moment -- for years it's been "Where The Streets Have No Name," which, last night, was merely good -- and "City of Blinding Lights" has now claimed that slot.
As the stage and its cathedral spire glowed red and the video screen exploded in a kaleidoscope of flickering colors, Bono took a stroll around the stage imparting the line, "The more you know, the less you feel," with the heartfelt sincerity of an elder statesman passing along wisdom.
But soon enough, the Bono of 25 years ago was prancing around the circular stage for "Sunday Bloody Sunday," still a potent march of defiance.
That level of serrated energy that propels this band isn't always as palpable on this tour and realistically, it shouldn't be. The guys are all creeping toward 50, which means different mind-sets, values and even energy levels -- all acceptable reasons for choosing to end the show with "Moment of Surrender," a sweeping, pensive song that guaranteed fans filtered out of the stadium not with their fists raised in a post-concert buzz, but their minds tuned to something a little deeper.
Contact Melissa Ruggieri at (804) 649-6120 or [email protected] .
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