Saturday, June 18, 2011

In battle of U2 vs. Anaheim crowd, band is the big winner

U2 singer Bono, as photographed from our seats on Friday, June 17.

I've seen U2 so many times since I first caught them at the US Festival back in May 1983, it's almost easy for this jaded old scribe to take another one of their concerts for granted. But that changed for me earlier this week, when I almost suddenly got very excited and couldn't wait to see them again when they landed to perform at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Friday night, June 17.
My excitement about the band remains firm some 12 hours or so after the sold-out show ended (and I am set to see the band perform for a second night in a row later today). But the audience that filled the "Big A" was 50 percent or more a bona fide big dud. Beer runs, check. Needless and ceaseless screaming, check. Less-than-discerning listeners aplenty, check.
There is no doubt that the fans that began lining up several days before the show and were standing close to the stage displayed the same passion that U2 fans have displayed for the Irish quartet since the early 1980s.
But the cell phone-armed, party-minded majority seated around me had only a casual interest in the concert and the music making. How sad.
I thought Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were in fine form, and since our seats were much closer than when we saw the band at the Rose Bowl in October 2009, I was more than happy with the views of the band and stage.
The band's two-hour performance featured a mix of old and new. Although I wish I band would take a break from playing "I Will Follow" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," at least there were energetic versions of "Magnificent " (from No Line on the Horizon), "Beautiful Day" and the wonderful "Stay (Faraway, So Close)".
I'll have more thoughts and a stronger review tomorrow about the second show, and compare/contrast that with this oh-so-quick review of the Friday performance.
As far as Lenny Kravitz's set, the sound was very muddy and I don't feel I can really offer up a solid review.

Setlist: U2 at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, June 17, 2011
Main set: Intro music: David Bowie’s Space Oddity / Even Better Than the Real Thing / I Will Follow / Get On Your Boots / Magnificent / Mysterious Ways / Elevation / Until the End of the World (with lines from Where Have All the Flowers Gones?) / Happy Birthday to You (for Paul McGuinness) / All I Want Is You / Stay (Faraway, So Close!!) (with a touch of In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning) (acoustic; dedicated to Chris Blackwell) / Beautiful Day (with Space Oddity references, including one from Cmdr. Mark Kelly; dedicated to Gabrielle Giffords) / Pride (In the Name of Love) (dedicated to Maria Shriver) / Miss Sarajevo > Zooropa > City of Blinding Lights > Vertigo (with Are You Gonna Go My Way reference) / I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (with quotes from Discothèque and Talking Heads’ Life During Wartime and Psycho Killer) / Sunday Bloody Sunday / Scarlet > Walk On (with You’ll Never Walk Alone coda)
First encore: One (with bit from United We Stand) > snippet of Will You Love Me Tomorrow? > Where the Streets Have No Name
Second encore: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me / With or Without You / Moment of Surrender

Lenny Kravitz: Come On and Get It / It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over / Always on the Run / American Woman / Fly Away / Let Love Rule / Are You Gonna Go My Way

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