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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 10, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 23
U2 plays supersized show to massive audience
Arts & Entertainment
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U2 plays supersized show to massive audience

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

U2
June 4
Qwest Field


Less than a handful of artists can fill soccer stadiums around the world: U2, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, and Metallica - sorry, Lada Gaga, not yet.

Last weekend it was Dublin's finest - Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr. - who landed in Seattle to perform in front of 70,000-plus fans at Qwest Field. There was nothing small about this concert; even the merchandise lines were abnormally long.

U2 was ushered through a stadium tunnel to the stage as David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' blared from the 575 speakers built into the four 'claw' towers. Always in rock-star mode, Bono walked cockily past those squeezed into the floor level, dressed in all black, mostly leather, and goggle-type shades. But this guy is allowed to do as he pleases - after all, he's the lead singer of the world's biggest band.

U2 kicked off its two-hour set with 'Even Better Than the Real Thing,' the jumbo-size stage illuminating like a carnival ride, although it's actual shape resembled the bottom of a spaceship. 'I Will Follow' and 'Get On Your Boots' were played next. A pair of bridges connected from the center of the stage to a circular track moved simultaneously allowing the performers to vacillate between the two.

During 'Mysterious Ways,' Bono commanded everyone to raise their hands in the air, and they did it without being told twice. When the group performed 'Until the End of the World,' a steeple atop the stage took the form of a lighthouse with searchlights flashing in various directions.

'Thank you most of all for your patience,' yelled Bono to the roaring crowd, referring to the year-long wait that ticketholders agonized through when U2 regrettably canceled last summer's show due to illness. As if announcing a reinvention of the multi-Grammy winning act, Bono also shouted, 'Tonight, we've decided to start again. Let me introduce you to this band from Dublin, Ireland.' The stadium went nuts.

When Bono introduced The Edge, he jokingly said, 'I see him as one of Lady Gaga's funky dancers.' He later proclaimed, out of thin air, 'I feel good about myself.' That's Bono, the Oprah of music, preaching whatever is on his mind.

The most memorable part of Saturday night's concert was the appearance by NASA Commander Mark Kelly direct from the International Space Station, who spoke a few lines of the hit 'Beautiful Day,' a song that was dedicated to his wife, Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot earlier this year. It was touching, inspirational, and united everyone in loud bursts of cheering.

'Pride (in the Name of Love)' had the entire Qwest Field up on its feet, many punching the air with their fists. Shortly after 'Zooropa,' a crown-like video screen way above U2's heads - which had been flashing live images of the band as they played - suddenly extended all the way down to the stage and turned into a cyclone of colorful graphics. Minutes later, the classic 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' sounded ever-so anthemic inside the mega soccer stadium.

'Walk On,' which closed out the main set, was also dedicated to a political type, Aung San Suu Kyi, who protested against the Burmese government and was imprisoned, then released. Volunteers from Amnesty International came out with rice paper lamps and positioned them around the stage during the song.

It was Kyi, speaking perfect English, who introduced U2's first encore by video, which began with 'One,' followed by a super-fueled version of 'Where the Streets Have No Name.' A second encore included 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me' and 'With or Without You,' before closing with 'Moment of Surrender.' Bono once again addressed the crowd, saying 'Thank you for your passion, your brainpower - and your cash, actually.'

This was the best U2 show in the four times I've seen them live. They've not only gotten bigger (and somewhat older), but they've gotten a whole lot better than the great band they already were.

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