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Being in one place at one time with 65,000 other people who are all focused on ANY single thing is amazing. It’s a miracle in itself.
It’s the sort of thing that separates us from the animals.
So U2 had a lot going for it even before the band showed up at Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday night. Bonus that these guys are masters of the stadium spectacle. They’ve done this before, haven’t they?
The great thing about U2 is that they’re not ashamed to be rock stars, not afraid to make everything they do larger than life and in fact seem eager to turn every concert into “the concert of the decade.”
Wednesday night proved that point in Edmonton, as strong a show if not better than the band’s 1997 appearance in the same building – the concert of the last decade, and we seem to be missing a decade here. No matter. U2 is timeless.
The hit parade spanned 35 years and the myriad moods of U2, but the feel of this show was all in the moment.
With all the hype, massive production and electric stadium energy, the concert was surprisingly simple and intimate. Guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. played in a relatively small space in the centre of the 50 metre “Space Station” that was topped by a humongous elasto-morphing, high definition video screen. With at least eight cameras catching every little detail of U2’s performance, every tic, grimace and smirk, you really felt like you were right there with the band. Best of all: you could see they were having fun. That has to count for a lot after 35 years.
Bono was a loose and gangly presence, striding around the enormous spiraling catwalks and moving bridges over a sea of lucky fans in the inner circle as he serenaded the audience. He urged us early, “Come on, City of Champions!” Nice he got Edmonton’s nickname right this time. He talked about rugby, about “ice hockey,” which also seemed go over well with the crowd. He played with his melodies, pumped as much drama into his performance as he could – fully aware that all his flamboyant rock star moves could be taken as ironic. It doesn’t excuse excess, but it sure makes it a lot more fun.
Much appreciated was the various drips of Canadiana inserted into the show. At one point, Bono brought up a woman from the audience to recite the lyrics to Neil Young’s Heart of Gold as if they were poetry. Bono looked so relaxed he might as well be in his own living room. When he sang, his power and passion were tremendous. This is the very definition of being “in the zone.”
Hearing 65,000 fans cheer their brains out is a thrill in itself. After an opening set from the Fray – the American band that everyone thinks is British and sounds like a cross between U2 and Coldplay (does every modern rock band with a piano have to get compared to Coldplay? Yes) – U2 band took the stage around sunset to open with Even Better Than the Real Thing. Read into that what you want. The Edge’s distinctive chiming guitar led the way in I Will Follow, sounding as fresh as it did when it came out in 1980. Mysterious Ways brought the energy to an even higher level, something that would happen repeatedly throughout the night: Beautiful Day, Pride (In the Name of Love), Vertigo, each song much more than a mere song, but a stadium anthem that invites the mass singalongs that again are thrilling in themselves, just to be there. To elevate, as it were, rock songs into such grand and grandiose statements would seem absurd from anyone but U2.
Fourteen years since their last appearance in Edmonton, Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry have almost perfected the stadium rock experience. They’re not ashamed to make it as big as they possibly can – because that’s what we expect from these guys.
News Source: (Jam! Showbiz)