Opening Act(s): Muse
Breathe, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day, No Line On The Horizon, Magnificent, Elevation, In A Little While, New Year’s Day, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - Stand By Me, 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 - People Get Ready, MLK, Walk On - You’ll Never Walk Alone. Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace, Where The Streets Have No Name, Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment Of Surrender
U2’s first ever concert in Raleigh, North Carolina is marked with a full moon overhead as Bono comments about it towards the end of “Beautiful Day”. “In A Little While” is performed for the first time since July 25, 2009 in Dublin. A remarkable moment takes place as Bono grabs a fan’s sign that reads “People get ready”, hands the fan a microphone and lets him sing “People Get Ready” in the midst of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Also with the U2 Conference taking place nearby, Ugandan nurse Agnes Nyamayarwo is honored tonight by Bono. On a side note, U2 were supposed to perform in Raleigh back in 1997 on the Popmart Tour but that show was cancelled due to rain damage to the gigantic Popmart screen.
Raleigh News & Observer
U2 goes big in Raleigh — really big
BY David Menconi, Staff Writer
RALEIGH — A few songs into U2’s Saturday night show at Carter-Finley Stadium, Bono paused to survey his domain. And he addressed the packed house with the egomaniacal charm we’ve all come to know and love.
“We’ve got old songs, we’ve got new songs, we’ve got songs we can barely play,” he cracked. “And we’ve got a spaceship!”
Yes, it was hard not to notice that. At a time when pretty much everything seems to be in contraction mode, U2 has rolled the dice with what has to be the most elaborately ginormous stage setup in rock history — a huge, claw-shaped beast that looked like a vertigo-inducing theme-park ride.
It seemed impossible that any band, even one as outsize as U2, wouldn’t get swallowed up by such surroundings. But somehow they pulled it off through sheer force of will. This business of being the biggest band on earth clearly matters a great deal to U2, and they’ve put this gargantuan spectacle on the road to achieve “intimacy on a grand scale.” There’s just no one better at immensity than U2.
After a solid, 40-minute opening set by Muse, the headline portion of the evening opened withDavid Bowie’s “Space Oddity” as prelude music, smoke machines at full belch. Larry Mullen Jr. entered first, sitting down at his drums to start bashing. Guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans was next, with bassist Adam Clayton right behind. And Bono was last out, of course.
Bono wasted no time hitting the heroic poses on the opener “Breathe,” a track from the current album “No Line on the Horizon.” Though”No Line” is only so-so, its songs came across much better live — even “Get On Your Boots,” the actively annoying first single. Other recent-vintage songs to hit the mark included “Vertigo,” “Magnificent” and “City of Blinding Lights.”
As always, Edge provided letter-perfect guitar accompaniment. If Bono is U2’s preacherman, Edge is the one who built the sonic pulpit from which he holds forth.
Hammy theatrics that somehow work are a U2 specialty, such as the way Bono worked snippets of rock-era classics into U2 songs. A bit of “Amazing Grace” turned up during the encore version of “One.” And during “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono pointed at the moon and sang the opening of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (“When the night has come/And the land is dark/And the moon is the only light we will see …”).
Sometimes, however, Bono should just leave well enough alone. Tossing his microphone to a guy in the crowd to let him sing a verse of “People Get Ready” might have seemed like a good idea; but it was an off-key disaster.
Still, that was one of the show’s few miscues. For all the band’s pretensions, U2 is ultimately just so likable that it’s almost impossible not to be won over. When they went roaring into the encore version of “Where The Streets Have No Name,” that guitar riff pealing like a church bell, it was a perfect moment of blissful big-rock grandeur that you just don’t see much of anymore.
We shall not see U2’s like again, I don’t believe.
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All photos by Travis Long, Raleigh News & Observer