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by Austin

This was my first show of the tour and the third time I've seen U2 in Chicago. It's a city that loves U2 and the band has always delivered something special. This concert was no different and it was full of energy and amazing performances, yet something was missing that held it back from being the best show I've ever seen.

Let's start with the positives, which far outweigh the negatives. First off, I cannot say how thrilled I was to hear Gloria. I love the October album and hearing anything from it is a miracle: this was no exception. I had tears in my eyes and sang my heart out; it was easily the highlight of the show for me. Other fan favorites like Bad and 40 were great additions that just made the night that much more special. I was a bit disappointed that the band didn't have any unplayed surprises or debuts for us but getting Gloria more than made up for it. The big hits really got the crowd going, especially With or Without You, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Vertigo and Pride (In the Name of Love). Ordinary Love was a nice addition and it's a song that translates well in a live setting, as does Invisible. The screen and state setup are exceptional and were constantly adding subtle elements to the show I never could have predicted.

The new material is incredible and, although the crowd didn't really seem into it, Songs of Innocence is one heck of a live album. Cedarwood Road in particular is a beast and Raised by Wolves hits you with such a punch that it's astounding. The piano version of Every Breaking Wave gave Bono of the best vocal performances of the night and it was absolutely beautiful. The new album is awesome and I really hope the band keeps pushing it and playing these songs, even with lackluster support from the audience. Overall the performance was what you expect from U2 and from beginning to end the band was at their peak. There's a furocity to this tour that I haven't seen in quite some time and it really comes through, especially once you see this tour in person.

Now for the downside: the crowd. Aside from a few of the hits they were constantly checking their phones, sitting down, getting up and walking around, socializing and generally seemed uninterested in what was going on. It wasn't the worst group I've ever seen but I was dismayed at how few hardcore fans seemed to be there. I've never experienced that at a U2 show before and it was very odd, to say the least. Bono's political speeches were also a bit confused and muddy. Usually this part of the show isn't my favorite but on past tours they went by pretty quickly, yet this time it seemed there was far more of it and the crowd, at least up in my section, wasn't too thrilled. A lot of people sat down, seemed irritated, and one fan even responded with a profanity-laced retort to Bono's speech. My complaint since the beginning of the tour has been that Bono's political points, especially during Bullet the Blue Sky, seem confused and messy, like he doesn't know where he's going or what the point is. The crowd didn't seem pleased and it just confirmed for me that U2 does best when they let the music do the talking. The people in my area weren't having any of it and I couldn't help but feel that there was just too much of it in this show, to the point where I found it distracting and I left the show feeling conflicted. People don't go to U2 shows to hear lectures on America and sadly I feel that's exactly what we got. I'm sure the band's intentions are good but I'd prefer more music and less poltical and social commentary next time around.

Aside from the mixed crowd and forced politics, this was a tremendous show and worth the travel time and money. This was my wife's first U2 show and she had a great time, going so far as to say that she wouldn't mind seeing them again down the road. This is a bold tour and, while not everything works, it's truly a sight to behold and one more chance to see the best band in the world do what they do best. Don't pass it up.

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