U2 rocks Chicago
Jack Thornton | Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This past weekend the city of Chicago hosted Irish band U2 as they opened the North American leg of the U2 360° degree tour. What a weekend it was.
Playing on one of the most ambitious stages ever created for a rock tour, U2 proved that they are still the biggest and best band in the world. The spectacular stage consisted of a circle within a circle (the two were connected with bridges that moved like the staircases in the “Harry Potter” movies), underneath a massive structure that can best be described as a giant spaceship with four spindly legs and a giant TV screen for a belly. Designed to offer fans in every corner of the stadium a good view, the stage was just as ambitious as the band it was made for. Only U2 would think of such a set and only U2 could pull off playing in it.
After opening band Snow Patrol played for 45 minutes, U2 electrified the crowd for nearly two and a half hours in one of the single greatest musical events ever to grace the city.
On opening night they played a set list of new songs and old classics with a few delightful surprises thrown in. They opened with three songs from their newest album, “No Line On The Horizon,” including the title track and the catchy rock romp “Get On Your Boots” before moving into older material with crowd pleasers “Beautiful Day,” “Elevation,” the classic “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and a wonderful acoustic rendition of the hit “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.”
The rest of the opening set contained some unexpected songs such as “The Unforgettable Fire,” a techno rave version of “I Know I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” where all four band members, including drummer Larry Mullen Jr., strutted around the outer stage playing their instruments, as well as the popular “Vertigo” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” before closing with the epic “Where The Street Have No Name.”
Their first encore consisted of the famous ballad “One,” which was introduced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the magnificent “Bad” from the “Unforgettable Fire” album. The second encore opened with “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” which was perhaps the most surprising and pleasing song of the entire show before closing with U2’s greatest hit “With Or Without You” and the new “Moment Of Surrender.”
The second night was very similar to the first, but there were some differences including a completely new song, the slow and moving “Your Blue Room” which will appear on the next U2 album, and the emotional “Stay (Far Away, So Close).” These replaced “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and “Bad.” Although it was disappointing to not hear these classics a second time, the new songs were just as good and showed the diversity that U2 is capable of.
Each song featured an incredible display of lights and effects that, with any other band, would have taken center stage and distracted from the music. But not this band. Led by charismatic frontman Bono, the band and the music was the focal point of the evening. All the special effects in the world could not distract the audience from the incredible artistry and passion of each musician. The Edge, perhaps the greatest effects guitarist in the world, complimented Bono’s vocals and lyrics with tact and force, while the drums of Mullen Jr. and the bass of Adam Clayton drove each song to unimagined heights of intensity, precision and power.
Bono was Bono. He went from comedian to wounded lover to political activist, keeping the crowd enthralled with his antics. At times he merely stood at his mike-stand and crooned. At others he strutted and danced. At others he raced around the outer circle of the stage before collapsing dramatically to the ground.
The two incredible shows proved that U2 is still as relevant as ever. Even after three decades of music they are arguably the best band in the world and are undoubtedly one of the greatest live acts ever. One can only look forward to the next opportunity to see the legendary band perform again.