Monday, October 26, 2009

U2 performs at the Rose Bowl

These great photos were taken by Joe Hail.

My review of the show is below the images.

Photos courtesy of Joe Hail.

Every time I catch U2 in concert and have to deal with the unbearable gridlock, obnoxious contingent of casual fans who could really care less about the music and the real-life hassles of going to a big rock show, I recall my magical first-time encounter with the Irish quartet.
A day or so after I graduated from Cal State Fullerton, I headed to the US Festival on Monday morning, May 30, 1983. I wasn’t very familiar with U2 when I arrived at Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino County, but after catching Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. unleash an epic show constructed around the recently-released album “War,” I was an instant convert and have caught the band countless times since in shows here in Southern California, as well as in San Jose, Ca., Florida, New York and Nevada.
So it will come as no surprise that I braved the relatively-short trek up to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last night (Sunday, Oct. 25) to see U2 on its 360° Tour. After all, this is reportedly the only public performance by the band coming to California this year.
In terms of the technology, stage design anchored by “The Claw” and the top-notch sound system, amazing. The band’s set list was also strong (check it out below, thanks to O.C. Register music writer Ben Wener, who posted it earlier today with his review on In contrast to those positives, the crowd I dealt with in my section was of the idiot variety. Why go to a show if you’d rather play with your iPhone, cell phone or go on beer runs all night? When the polite security person tells you to get out of the handicapped section and go to your assigned seat, don’t yell obscenities when you are at fault.
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, how was U2 – that is the real question. There was plenty of shining moments across the concert for sure. Early in the set, “Get on Your Boots” outdistanced the studio recording on the “No Line on the Horizon” album. And the magnificent “Magnificent” was exactly that. Of the other songs performed last night whose versions really hit home, I count “Beautiful Day,” the blistering “Vertigo,” powerful “Until the End of the World” and “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” as the definite highlights.
I was sadly disappointed by the version of “The Unforgettable Fire” and especially “Walk On” (one of my favorite ‘00s U2 songs); they just seemed flat to me. The title track off “No Line on the Horizon” was also a bit of a disappointment. But make no mistake, the band itself continues to play with a fire and power that defies their 30-year history as a band.

With audiences being what they are today – notably bored and distracted by anything not involving themselves – I wonder if any band can really capture an audience for an extended set in a gigantic setting such as the Rose Bowl. After all, a reported 95,000-plus were on hand Sunday night, with who knows how many more watching via a well-publicized streaming of the two-hour concert via YouTube. U2 continues to be a great band, and there is a good chance that those who stood on the floor and crowded near the stage felt the awesome surge that I did when I first felt that unforgettable fire on a blistering day in May more than 26 years ago.
What did I think of the opening night’s act? Well, because of the difficulty getting into the Rose Bowl, waiting in line 15 minutes to get a bottle of water, I only caught the last 1/3 of the Black Eyed Peas’ set. The only highlight was watching Slash tear it up on the classic Guns N’ Roses track “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Less than 24 hours after catching Fergie and company, that’s all I remember of their time in the limelight. I so wish that we had got Muse like so many other stops on the 360° Tour!

Set list: U2 at the Rose Bowl, Sunday night, Oct. 25, 2009
Intro music: Space Oddity (David Bowie) / Kingdom of Your Love (excerpt)
Main set: Breathe / Get on Your Boots / Magnificent / Mysterious Ways / Beautiful Day (with snippets of In God’s Country and the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows) / I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (acoustic) / No Line on the Horizon / Elevation / In a Little While / Unknown Caller / Until the End of the World / The Unforgettable Fire > City of Blinding Lights / Vertigo (with snippet of the Stones’ It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll) / I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (Redanka Remix) (with snippet of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes) > Sunday Bloody Sunday / MLK > Walk On
First encore: Bishop Desmond Tutu message > One > Amazing Grace > Where the Streets Have No Name
Second encore: Ultraviolet (Light My Way) / With or Without You / Moment of Surrender

1 comment:

Ticketwood said...

I first saw U2 perform live in July 2005, and I haven't stopped talking about that experience yet!! : lol: Over the years, I've had the good fortune to see them many times, U2 band and their show improve with each new tour! Next weekend I'm gonna see them again since I can compare and get cheap tickets from ; so I can save some dollars to the next concert ...I’m so excited!!