Opening Act(s): None
- The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
- Out of Control - Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?
- Vertigo - God Save the Queen
- I Will Follow
- Mofo - Iris (Hold Me Close)
- Cedarwood Road
- Song for Someone
- Sunday Bloody Sunday
- Raised by Wolves
- Until the End of the World Intermission
- Even Better Than the Real Thing
- Mysterious Ways - Burning Down the House - Young Americans
- Desire - Not Fade Away - Love Me Do
- Sweetest Thing
- Every Breaking Wave
- Bullet the Blue Sky - 19
- The Hands That Built America - Pride (In the Name of Love)
- The Troubles
- With or Without You Encore(s):
- City of Blinding Lights
- Beautiful Day - I Remember You
- Mother and Child Reunion - Where the Streets Have No Name - California (There Is No End to Love) - All You Need Is Love
- I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Invisible
It's U2's first concert of the Innocence + Experience Tour in Vancouver, Canada, in front of over 20,000 fans at the Rogers Center. U2 premiers 7 new songs from the "Songs of Innocence" album.
Review: U2 kicks off Innocence + Experience tour with bombastic conceptual show in Vancouver
by Francois Marchand
VANCOUVER - "Language so we can communicate. Religion so I can love and hate. Music so I can exaggerate my pain - and give it a name," sang U2 frontman Bono on The Miracle (of Joey Ramone), while guitarist The Edge, sporting his trademark toque, provided the song's monstro-crunch riff.
The song was an ode to youth and freedom, a nod to the Ramones. As far as U2 is concerned, it was almost punk rock. If punk rock really belongs on stages like this.
It was a fitting, emotional way to kick off the Irish band's Innocence + Experience tour in Vancouver, where U2 had set up shop for the past few weeks, rehearsing at the old Pacific Coliseum.
The buzz around U2's tour kickoff at Rogers Arena had been building like a pressure cooker since the tour was announced. You could feel the electricity in the air as you approached the venue Thursday night, six years after U2's last visit at BC Place on the 360 tour, which remains the highest grossing tour in history.
This time: two arena shows instead of the usual gigantic bowl-a-thon for a "more intimate" experience, fans had been told.
Only U2 could call an arena show a more intimate experience.
In the early moments it certainly was. Stark lighting surrounded the band, with one solitary light bulb hanging above the main stage. No frills despite all the modern age gadgetry waiting to be lit up above the exclamation mark-shaped walkway spanning the length of the floor in front of the stage.
"We're called U2 and we're from Ireland," Bono said, as if no one knew already, before digging out 1980 debut single Out Of Control.
Bono introduced the members of the band one by one, warming up the crowd, letting the pressure build even more.
Vertigo doused in strobe lights felt like a basement jam waiting to explode into the daylight. I Will Follow was all about bassist Adam Clayton's snappy bass, pulsating with a post-punk snap.
"You haven't changed a bit," Bono said. "If anything you look a little younger, feel a little younger. The experiment works."
Bono gave a nod to Canada, where the last tour ended and this one began, before taking a trip down memory lane back to Dublin with Iris (Hold Me Close), dedicated to Bono's mother.
Above the walkway, stadium-worthy video screens came to life projecting the band now floating among the stars, old footage from childhood.
The rollicking Cedarwood Road had Bono literally walking down memory lane inside the video screens above the crowd, with animated houses and cars floating by. A spectacular effect.
With Song For Someone we were revisiting Bono's bedroom. Sunday Bloody Sunday followed, done acoustic on the catwalk, drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who lost his father last weekend, striking a funereal drum beat. Powerful.
"I don't believe any more," Bono bellowed on Raised By Wolves following the car bomb finale of Bloody Sunday. It was an angry and sad reminder of the origins of both songs, in tribute to the victims of 1974's triple car bombings in Dublin.
The band kept getting stronger as the show went on, The Edge sounding especially sharp on guitar.
When the tour was announced, fans were promised pairs of concerts built on the themes of innocence and experience. There was a certain expectation that each night would be thematically different, maybe with entirely diverging set lists. (Note: Friday's show will be the same.)
What we got instead was a conceptual, biographical journey experienced through U2's music, a kind of The Wall-esque tale of innocence lost, rooted in punk rock and leading to pop rock stardom apotheosis (ie. "experience") in the second half of the show.
"There is no them, there's only us," Bono and the band sang on Invisible, trapped inside the screens.
U2 were ready to break out again, emerging from their technological cocoon blasting Even Better Than The Real Thing and Mysterious Ways (splashed with a little Talking Heads for good measure).
The conceptual punk rock string tying everything together (thanks to video cameos by everyone from David Bowie to the Sex Pistols) came unglued in the second half, the band reverting to arena mode.
The Sweetest Thing had a neat little feature where a fan came on stage to snap shots of the band with a cell phone (which could be seen on the big screens). A stripped down Every Breaking Wave (which still sounds like Coldplay doing U2 doing Coldplay) was a little rough around the edges, Bono's voice faltering.
Back in electric mode, Bullet The Blue Sky was pure preacher Bono, channelling Chuck D, Ferguson and Baltimore, the screens exploding with dystopian visions, The Edge's Stratocaster screeching before giving way to an elegiac snippet of The Hands That Built America.
Fan favourites In The Name Of Love and With Or Without You felt disconnected from the plot line, but at that point, late in the two-hour set, it was all about nailing the classics. And that's what U2 did.
"Thanks for sticking with us," Bono said before the lights dimmed.
With an encore featuring a fluorescent-lit City Of Blinding Lights, an explosive Beautiful Day, and Canucks anthem Where The Streets Have No Name performed "at home," U2 were off and running, ready to conquer the world yet again.
(UPDATE: Yes, during the final moments of the concert while performing I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, dedicated to Mullen Sr. and "fifth U2 member" Paul McGuinness, The Edge took a little bit of a fall off the stage. He was fine, though.)
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