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by Shakes

Just got back to NY after seeing the 2nd show at Croke Park and boy was it something... This was my 7th U2 show overall, and first of four on this tour and I was in the pit for the first time ever (first time on the floor to begin with) with my buddy. So first off big shout-out to the guy from Chicago next to us and the couple in front of us who were on my flight by to NYC this morn...

Here are my thoughts:

Opening acts:
(1) Republic of Loose - I had never heard their songs before but they were pretty good and energetic for an opening act. The lead singer's (Mick Pyro) constant thumbs-up gestures after every song rode the fine line between funny/goofy and slightly creepy. His green jacket didn't help...but they were good and got a polite applause. (Croke Park's prohibition of booze inside the stadium kept a lot of people outside until U2 went on)

(2) Kaiser Chiefs - They were flippin' brilliant. Great energy and their songs works well in a stadium too (unlike say PJ Harvey @ MSG many moons ago). Props to Ricky Wilson for really getting the crowd on its feet...he did his part jumping into the pit and taking a swig of someone's beer, then going to the edge of the outer ring and crowd surfing..and finally hearing "Ruby" life is fantastic. I also liked his touch of spotting a loose screw on the stage and sitting down between songs to try and screw it back in saying something along the lines of how he has to fix it because "Bono keeps track of these things"

And then U2. They were brilliant and I know I'm a biased reviewer but the vibe was fantastic. Even the steady rain just added to the atmosphere. I've never heard Bono ad lib "Here comes the Sun" in response to the weather holding up....only to add "Rain" when the weather turned...in the same show.

AS for the song I think maybe switching the order of Breath and No Line on the Horizon might be a good epic way of starting things.. especially given the atmospheric track they come out to (after Space Oddity, the song which is on the Anton Corbijn DVD and looks to be on the next album) would lead into NLOTH better me thinks

I was super happy to hear "Unknown Caller" make it back, I dunno why they removed that on the song list but let's hope they don't move that one around again. Also speaking of songs, lemme say big props to the person who had a bright yellow poster board in the front of the pit that said "Please Play Please." Sadly his dreams were not answered but maybe there should be some concentrated effort for make U2 to play Please at one particular show...even if I'm not there for that one it would make me happy. I hear Twitter is all the rave to make social change. Protesting the Irani government is one thing, but that's child's play to whether Twitter can organize people to change a U2 set list.

But I digress...

The new songs sounded great and even SBS seemed relevant again given the green/Irani backdrop. Two quick observations though, the dance remix of "Go Crazy" seems to be the most divisive song on the set lists from what I've observed with people either loving it or hating it. I'll just say this: while I'm not sure if it comes off the best live (I think it's a cool remix though), it seems like the band really have a ton of fun playing it. They worked the hardest to get the crowd into the song and even though it may not have been 100% reciprocated I do like the fact that they just seemed happy playing it. I mean if I had my way I think it does make sense to have a dance/rave segment but I would've gone with Lemon/Discotheque/MoFo (or just pick one)

Now what I'm gonna say next bothers me and I don't know if maybe being so close to the stage and not seeing the whole crowd's reaction is affecting me, but is it just me or did it seem like "Streets" didn't have that extra big of Oomph? I'm used to the crowd just losing it and people going apesh*t but I don't feel like that fully happened...my only thoughts for why it didn't happen:
(a) the song leading into Streets helps set the mood, whether it's Running to Stand Still (Zoo TV), Please (Pop), or Bad (Elevation)...and here there was almost a mini break while the opening strings were cued up
(b) I'm sooo happy the red with white lights lighting scheme is back for this tour (I'm all for helping Africa, but it was a little odd I thought for Vertigo to have the flags of African nations up) BUT they have to bring the mega powerful white lights that just blind all of humanity back. It almost brings me to tears to see an emotional song prior to "Streets" coupled with a long crescendo and then a wall of lights that matches your racing heart. Need more lights. Maybe I just went off the deep end but I don't think I'm tooo far wrong

Oh also, "In a Little While" was dedicated to the astronauts dudes, one of whom had his wife and child in the crowd. The funny thing about "In a Little While" is that the lyrics were almost perfect for the occasion ... "Man dreams one day to fly / A man takes a rocketship into the skies / He lives on a star that's dying in the night / And follows in the trail / The scatter of light..." If you didn't know better you would've thought it was a song written about astronauts as a opposed to a drunk guy singing to his love

I loved Moment of Surrender and it plays a nice role as an introspective number to end the show in the same spirit as "Wake up Dead Man" did on Pop (Vertigo of course had...Vertigo again) but it almost feels like it leaves you wanting a little more, which maybe "40" would do.

All-in-all a great show that I can see getting fine tuned even more.

...and the stage...oh lord. They're right, it's so big that you stop noticing it, but what you do notice is how great the sound is.

Cheers! See you all August 14 for Wembly!
-shakes (hbshakes@gmail.com)

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