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by Birdie Num Nums

This was something else. I’m trying to figure out a way to broadly characterize where this show fits in thematically with tours from the past. If 360 was about turning stadiums into ballrooms, then this I+E is like turning ballrooms into club gigs… except at times you feel like you’re at 3 gigs at once between the stages…and oh yeah that screen. You almost don’t know where you’re supposed to look…

I feel like the screens have gone from purposeful distractions (ZooTV, PopMart) to understated touches of intimacy (Elevation where it was often in black and white) to  helping to tell a story/narrative (this tour). Which brings me to my view that this show in part feels like a quasi rock opera with the narrative of youth and their formative years.

Okay now for the particulars of this show:

* the setlist was terrific and the pacing was great … the new songs are good live and people seemed to know the lyrics (granted I was in GA so this is certainly a self-selecting biased sample)

* I love “One” but there are times when I feel like it means more to the people who attending their first U2 show than to me. But I gotta say, the version they did last night was the best I had ever seen or heard. The acoustic versions are touching, the album-like versions have a bit more grit, but this version added a new twist: hips. It started out mellow and sweet, then it got a little bit of funkiness to it give it a playful vibe and then it concluded with an audience sing-a-long (sorta like how they did “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking for” on 360)

* I was in GA and it’s clear to me that there really is not “best place” to stand… and I mean this in a good way because:

1) between the 3 stages there is so much surface area/rail space that even if you come 2 hours before showtime you can pretty much be within 3 people of the stage … in other words it doesn’t appear to me that you really have to line up 7 hours in advance or anything.

2) depending on where you stand you really get two different concert experiences. I was right in the front along with catwalk stage and while you’re super close and get some great pics, you don’t get to see the screen aspect that much. So to the extent the screen helps tell a narrative, you miss that part. So from that perspective the right place to be in GA may actually be in the middle of the arena in the back area. The only downside I would imagine is having to see the stage through a tangle of outstretched arms of cellphones

I would type more but I’m tired and my ears are ringing. What a show. I’m sure the tour will morph into an outdoor version by the time the Songs of Experience out (I can’t wait for how that theme will look… they gotta play God Part II…) or next summer, but in the meantime this was really really special

 Seeing U2 in NY right after 9/11 will never be topped (and given the context, it’s not something I would want to be able to top), but this was right up there with my favorite U2 arena shows of all time. (stadium tours are just a different genre altogether..) Now to see how tonight's show is...

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