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by Eric

U2 04/20/2005 Denver, CO
As us General Admission ticket holders stood in line in the rain and hail I couldn't help but think this must be deja vu for the band. The soggy scene was reminiscent of the early Under A Blood Red Sky show at Red Rocks that some say broke the band in the America's. Some fans had arrived as early as 7AM to insure the best possible viewing point. Basically, these people would be standing all day and all night for this show. U2 did not disappoint.

As the doors opened and tickets were being scanned, the small computer monitor at the gate responded to each scan with "proceed to floor." When my ticket was scanned, a red screen popped up with a picture of U2 and "Vertigo" splashed across the screen. Not quite sure what had happened, I was escorted to a small table where it was explained that I had been randomly selected to go to "The Circle." I could bring one guest.

The Circle is just that, a cordoned off area directly in front of the stage. The outline of the circle is a walkway where the band runs around above the crowd. Basically, I was surrounded by the band and mere feet from Bono the whole show! It was the closest I've ever been to a band at a show, and this is the biggest band in the world! Here's what I heard and saw:

The theme of the show seemed to revolve around bridging early material (Boy, War, Joshua Tree, etc) with How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. (I never thought I'd get to hear an old jem like Electric Co live!)
U2 took the stage in the dark with spolights aimed randomly at the crowd. This was possibly a throwback to the classic Rattle and Hum photos where Bono is aiming the spotlight at The Edge. The stage set up had some interesting effects, but was much more toned down than what we saw with later tours Pop Mart or Zoo TV.
The show was roots U2: dramatic, energetic, sincere, political. It's really comforting to see a band that you can tell still feels the music, no BS. The lyrics still carry meaning for them. Bono at times appeared so engulfed in a song that it almost seemed straining for him to "let go" and move into another one. He was hitting the high notes way more than when I saw him on the Pop tour, even if there was some recorded vocal overlapped. Even the Edge, who makes playing the guitar look like walking down the street, was obviously focused.
My favorite group of songs was New Years Day->Sunday Bloody Sunday->Bullet The Blue Sky->Pride (In The Name Of Love). You've got 3 hard-edged political tunes juxtaposed with a song about love. The bitter and the sweet, such is life. Dedicated to U.S. soldiers, they nailed Running To Stand Still like I never would have expected. The show closed with 40, the band going from full instrumentation to the Edge and Larry, to just Larry, all the while the audience singing "'how long, to sing this song?"
My only complaint: I wanted to hear Bad. They ended up playing that the next night, the 2nd Denver show.
U2 was impressive. This is definately a worth while tour to catch them on.

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