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by Shawn Bison

Tonight's show contained one of the strongest setlists of the Vertigo tour so far. The band played with precision and the Irish weather was glorious. As I stated before, the band are in peak playing form and continue to display their tight audacity of musicianship for the multitudes of humans who love and worship the canon of U2.

As a concertgoer, I don't look for the short moments of bliss that come from the popular favorites, played with exact note-for-note copy as the album versions. I expect improvisation, themes, storytelling, and a cohesive unit of show --- much like a good novel, a fine cinematic showcase, or a thesis paper on biology. U2 has mastered the art of the performance as a cohesive singular work of art. It doesn't matter that they have played Where The Streets Have No Name at every single major show on every major tour for the last 18 years... what matters is its context. Yes, that song was written by naive youngsters, but it, as well as Pride and One, has stood the test of time and has never been played with more meaning and soul.

I befriended a certain someone on this wonderful Ireland jaunt who has traded wit, sarcasm, thought, expression, and belief on all things U2 and life. His name is Jake Pontoupolous (some call him "Cake") and hails from the great land of Idaho. Jake has taken some time off from his work to travel the English isles to be with his favorite band. Jake and I agreed that the Vertigo tour is a calculatingly beautiful experiment in thought, message, call-to-action, expression, and religosity. Neither of us are deeply religious people, nor are we believers of a higher power, but we appreciate the sentiments (of people such as Bono and Jesse Jackson) of some folks who don't push their religious ideals on others. We discussed the notion that the opening and closing of the shows with Vertigo are bookends to a sermon put to rock music... U2 music. We start with the chant for people to rise up (hello hello), the middle portions are filled with emotive regret (Sometimes), worship of a higher power's healing rituals (Miracle Drug), the obvious call-to-action plea (war trio: Bullet/Love and Peace/Sunday), and mercy (Running To Stand). The end of the show used to be 40, but changed to a closer relationship to a sermon-like repetitive call (such as a message of such depth that must be repeated twice) in another Vertigo. None of this has been more evident than with tonight's show... probably the most passionate and full-on performance of this leg so far.

I really enjoyed Matt-from-Canada's performance of Party Girl. He gives hope to other longtime fan/guitarists who long to be up there and jam with their favorite band. Cheers to him. I watched him holding that sign up all night from across the railing... good job you lucky man. By the time U2 plays some more intimate venues in the dead of winter (Cleveland, specifically), I hope to be up there too. Here are some of my choices, ponder them and think of how amazing they would be with a great acoustic-playing fan on-stage. See you again Croke...

Crumbs From Your Table
Freedom For My People
One Tree Hill
Trip Through Your Wires
Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
Dirty Day

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