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U2 Tours (formerly part of AtU2): A Comprehensive Guide To U2’s Live Performance History
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by Matkin

Where do I even begin to explain why this concert was the best Ill ever go to? From the second that Wake Up by The Arcade Fire began playing, the audience was on its feet. The seat I had was considered to be a nosebleed, but I cant even imagine how it could possibly have been better. First off, I know that support acts are generally given a bad rep, but can I just say that Institute was amazing? They really set the tone for the concert. And speaking of which, there almost wasnt one! They were in Boston earlier, and their flight out to Buffalo was delayed for three hours thanks to the snow in Boston! They arrived in Buffalo only 90 minutes before the concert began, right around the time that Institute took the stage. But, as youll see, that didnt stop them from playing an absolutely terrific concert, and they didnt shorten it because of the weather either.
About halfway through Wake Up the houselights turned off, and you could barely see the stage. But from where I was, you could see each band member as they walked to the stage from the rear, went under it, and then came out of it from two sets of stairs. A single spotlight turned onto the Edge as he began the opening guitar for City Of Blinding Lights - my all-time favourite song! Then, Larry and Adam kicked in, Bono was raised onto the ellipse, the house lights came on and confetti fell. The best night of my life had begun.
They tore through City Of Blinding Lights with a passion, and then, without stopping for breath, plowed straight into a hair-raising version of Vertigo. And let me tell you, the visuals for both of these songs were incredible. Elevation was next, and the lights for this song were cool too. Then came the first huge surprise of the night - Gloria. No sooner had every fan in the building sat down for the first time, then the drums began, and every single fan was back on their feet. And let me tell you, I have never been a very big fan of Gloria, but I am now. Live, it is so much more then it is in studio. I think it was mostly the way the drums and bass were tied in, you can barely hear that on the album October. But near the end of the song, I saw Bono walk over and talk to Edge, then Adam and then Larry. I couldnt believe it. I knew what was coming next - The Ocean, a VERY rarely played song from the album Boy. Turns out, it wasnt on the planned setlist either. First time played in more than a month!
Edge switched guitars, and some beautiful chords began to play. This was probably the biggest sing along of the night, the incredible and timeless I Still Havent Found What Im Looking For. I like the song, but Im not a huge fan of it. Like Gloria, this version was the best Ive ever heard. You cant hear enough of this song when its done live. The heart is a bloom Bono sang, and Beautiful Day followed, with some more stunning visuals on the stage. This next song is a song we stole from John Lennon Bono said, introducing Original Of The Species. It was a beautiful version, with Edge on piano and Bono playing the guitar (acoustically), but I wish theyd played Miracle Drug instead, and put Original in the encore. But the song after Original was one of the highlights of the night. A heart-wrenching rendition of Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own, a song about Bonos father. Every conversation I had with my father for the last ten years began with my father saying Son, when are you going to take those fucking sunglasses off? he said, and took off his sunglasses. At the end of the song, it was pure magic, tears streaming down his face, as he segued into a snippet of No Regrets. Then, came the rock. Fighter Jets soared through the air as Love And Peace Or Else began. Larry strode down to the tip of the ellipse where a drum was set up, and he drummed there for almost the whole song. Then, in the lull before Edges solo, he gave Bono the drumsticks (who had just put on a headband with the word Coexist on it), went back to his regular drums, and then, thanks to Bonos drumming, the song went straight into Sunday Bloody Sunday.
This is where the magic of the night really began. For the first time since the start, every fan in the building leaped up, and didnt sit down for the whole song. America, this is your song now! Bono shouted, and nobody can doubt him. Sunday Bloody Sunday was the first U2 song I ever heard, and this version was full of unbelievable power, passion, and energy. At one point, Bono brought a young boy maybe 8 years old on stage to sing the No More!s. Bullet the Blue Sky followed, an old warhorse that Ive often thought should stop being played (its been played in every concert save one since its introduction). No more. They slowed things down then with a beautiful version of Miss Sarajevo, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights scrolling across the screens.
Ive heard U2 fans say that they should stop playing some of the classics, like Pride, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Where The Streets Have No Name. They absolutely have to keep Pride - it got one of the biggest cheers of the night! And Where The Streets Have No Name followed, and was better than I could ever have dreamed. A powerful version of One followed (with a snippet of Help), and U2 left the stage. They were back on in seconds. The Babyface slots played, and my first thought was oh, theyre going to play Zoo Station or The Fly! They didnt. They played something even better. The unmistakeable intro rang out, and the band launched into an amazing version of Until The End Of The World, which culminated in an incredible lightshow, and Bono chasing the Edge around the ellipse! Then came a haunting version of Mysterious Ways. Bono brought a bellydancer on stage and danced with her. The colours on this song were probably the best of the night. Then came another unmistakeable intro, and I could have been the first of the night to hear it and recognize it. My favourite song from the Joshua Tree, With Or Without You began. Bono brought a pregnant woman onto stage this time, and sang the song to her baby. It was touching, and one of the best versions of this song that Ive heard over the last few tours. Then they left the stage again. Bono and Edge came up alone, and played an acoustic version of Stuck In A Moment You Cant Get Out Of, with Larry and Adam kicking in for the last verse. Then, as a tribute to John Lennon, they played a good cover of Instant Karma.
Following this, they played a touching version of Yahweh, followed by the ultimate U2 closer, 40. An incredible night, and incredible performance, probably one of the best of the tour. It was the shortest 2.5 hours of my life, but it was the greatest night of my life.

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