Tuesday, September 22, 2009

U2 - Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA Monday September 21, 2009

Gillette Stadium - Foxboro, MA
Monday, September 21, 2009

Support - Snow Patrol

Okay, the dust has settled so to speak after the two night run of U2 at Gillette Stadium so now I can put pen to paper and give a little more of a review.

Both nights I arrived on the early side and parked pretty far from the Stadium. There is something to be said for going to shows alone, which is how I usually do it. For the Monday show I brought a lawn chair and a book and read for over one hour before getting in touch with some friends and hanging with them before the show. The walk before and after the show may be long, but the show ended close to 11 each night and I was in my driveway before 11:45..and that included the walk to my car.

This was my 16th and 17th time seeing U2 and those that know me know I have bowed before the altar of U2 for many a year. I've grown past them some, but still grab all their cds the day they come out and although I might not play them as frequently as I once did I still really like the music.

For both nights I had General Admission and decided to hang out between the sound board and the outer circle. All in all I'd say both nights 50 to 100 feet off the center stage. The crowd was thin in our area and I was surprised the field was not as packed as it could have been, which is a good thing now that we think of it.

The stage, coined "the Claw" is massive. Pictures just don't do it justice at all. In reading there are four PA systems on the stage, and ONE of the PA's could easily drive a show in a hockey arena. Many reviewers on line, and friends of mine that had seats in the upper levels complained of washing, and echo,but where I was it sounded pretty good for an outdoor stadium show. You can't be an audiofile at shows like this, you just can't.

Even with the massive stage, the instruments don't take up a ton of space. Larry Mullens drum kit was not that big. The Edge had a modest guitar rig set up and Adam Clayton had 4-6 bass cabinets, but not a ton. Bono still uses the Vox amp at the foot of Mullens drum when he plays guitar.

Sunday the band dragged out arriving on stage, it was 9pm when they came on and that was over 1hr after Snow Patrol had completed their set. Monday they arrived about 10 minutes earlier which was appreciated. In looking the upper levels were sparse at best, but the low bowl and the field were very full. They changed the set list at the outset. They opened with "Magnificent" which was the first time they opened with the song and played two more from the new cd before hitting "Mysterious Ways".

Usually I don't go "song for song" on my reviews but there are a few things to mention, at least for me.

"Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for" was a massive sing along. The song falls sort of flat for me, but the enthusiasm from the band and audience is infectious. "Elevation" and "Vertigo" are really great live songs. The audience goes wild for these to boot.

The band played "Your Blue Room", a track from the Passengers sound track for only the third time ever. Honestly, this is a take a leak moment. Even hard core fans stand there and sort of wonder "what is this..and then for all the songs they could play they picked this?". If you like it, that's fine, but talk about taking the air out of the room. The one plus is "Beautiful Day" followed. At the tail end of that Bono sang a snippet of "King of Pain" which blended well.

Another lost gem on this tour is "Unforgettable Fire" which I give them credit for playing (the only other song from the same record was "MLK"). Although the song has been out of the set lists for a few years its novelty is already played out. It is sort of a mid-tempo tune when you really think about it. I am one to complain about set lists for sure but I'd rotate this one and have it be more of an event.

They do a cool version of "I'll go Crazy if I Don't go Crazy tonight" with Larry playing the conga drums and the band really working the stage. The odd part is how much that Blackberry ad gets played they'd modify the tune. It works and is a cool version. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" to me is one of those songs that has been beaten to a pulp. Bono started it off semi chanting vs. singing the tune and that set me off. The band quickly gathered steam and really ended up doing one of the better versions I've heard in recent tours.

The main set ends with "Where the Streets Have No Name" (Sunday is was in the encore) and this still "does it" for me. The guitar riffs, the lights its a great set closer.

The encore was pretty short with a short pre-recorded clip from Desmond Tutu. Ultraviolet Light My Way ran in to With or Without You and then the show closer "Moment of Surrender"

Here is the full set list
1. Magnificent
2. No Line On The Horizon
3. Get On Your Boots
4. Mysterious Ways
5. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
6. Elevation
7. Your Blue Room
8. Beautiful Day / King Of Pain (snippet)
9. Unknown Caller
10. Until The End Of The World
11. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. Mofo (snippet) / City Of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo / Stories For Boys (snippet)
15. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday
17. MLK
18. Walk On
19. One / Amazing Grace (snippet)
20. Where The Streets Have No Name

21. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment of Surrender

The breakdown of where the songs came from:
· No Line On The Horizon (6 songs)
· Achtung Baby (4 songs)
· All That You Can't Leave Behind (3 songs)
· The Joshua Tree (3 songs)
· How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2 songs)
· The Unforgettable Fire (2 songs)
· Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 (1 songs)
· War (1 songs)
· Zooropa (1 songs)

Okay, now for my "harshness".

I have to play devils advocate. Lets say I have never seen U2 live. What songs would I want to hear. Prolly the big hits, the classics such as Pride, Sunday Bloody Sunday et all. The issue that I have is that the shows are so "regimented" with lights and video they have no room to break out of the "mold" The set list sits on the same rotation and there is the one/two songs they change out. Night One was New Years Day, Night 2 was Your Blue Room for example. "Your Blue Room" was a head scratcher. With all the bands material they choose a track that 95% of the audience has no idea on. Place it in the middle of the set and try to sell it as "we've only played this a few times". It was dull, flat and poorly placed. The band totally ignored the Boy and October records, that is about 15-20 songs to choose from right? On the last tour they did pull out Miss Sarajevo from that same sound track and they were able to pull it off, but this just did not work.

The need to wait to come on stage needs to change. I hate to sound like the jaded old man but lets look at the fan base of U2. Probably the bulk of them are 25+, have full time jobs, kids etc. This bull crap of waiting 1hr between the opening band only elevates outsiders opinions of your arrogance. 45 minutes TOPS and that is even pushing it. I can see a band in a nightclub set up a drum kit from the side of a stage, get everyone tuned and start in under 15 minutes, U2 has over 150 trucks in their fleet. You need me to roll out a guitar cable..I'll help..lets move this along.

Okay, those two paragraphs are done, whew. I am sure others totally disagree while some agree that is all fine and good. Even with all that U2 "has me". I am curious to hear what they have next. I am curious to see/how they will out do this stage.

Some got off the ride a few records ago, some never got on, I'll stay right here in the Passenger (uggh/sorry) seat.



At Tuesday, September 22, 2009 12:26:00 PM , Blogger Jay said...

Great review Todd. I'm with you, although the wait last night for them to go on was fine since I promised my son I'd grab him a Tee :) That took a 1/2 hour alone. As we discussed yesterday, the only thing I thought the show lacked was an "entrance". They are the biggest rock band in the world, and have earned the right to make an entrance and give us all the goose-bumps we had back in the day. Nice review!

At Tuesday, September 22, 2009 1:29:00 PM , Anonymous george said...

Bono called. He said there's an opening for a cable roller in his stage crew. For real though, good review. I'm one of those that got off the U2 express around "How to Dismantle..." but it's good to hear they're still putting on a good live show, not like I expected any less.

At Tuesday, November 10, 2009 9:27:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solid review. We're in that 25+ crowd of fans. In fact we're 40+ now. I'd say bag the warm up band and start the show at 7pm.
Also we were in the top deck of the stadium and the echo was terrible. Still a great show but I'll take an arena show over a studium any day.


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