love in 360

the gods of sun and 75 degree weather graced seattle with their presence yesterday (and today!), which only made the 70,000 people packed into qwest field all the more rambunctious. why were they rambunctious?

u2 was in town.

u2's 360 stage, "the claw"

i’ll be the first to admit i’m probably not qualified to give an unbiased review of their show last night at qwest field. and i also know that bono is one of the most polarizing celebrity figures in the news today. but whatever you might think of his politics, he is ever the showman, and the time off to recover from emergency surgery, the year long wait to see them again (i caught their show in vancouver in october of 2009, as well) was beyond worth it.

after 30 years of playing together, after more than half a lifetime of being friends and collaborators (u2 formed while they were still in high school) you’d be hard pressed to find a band that’s as tight as u2. my dad commented that he’s never seen a band perform as loosely held together as they are. by that i have to assume he means that they spread out over the stage, making use of the catwalks and bridges that surrounded the central round stage, making sure that every single person, all 70,000 of them, could see them. even larry mullin’s drum kit rotated so that he could be seen by everyone, without ever having to stand up. and yes, he’s still the handsome one.

they brought out the requisite hits, from “where the streets have no name” to “mysterious ways”, and dug down to their first real hit, “i will follow”. they surprised with an accoustic rendition of “stay”, cut the run time of “zooropa” from seven minutes to a little over three (one of the few things i was disappointed with), and opened their encore with “hold me thrill me kiss me kill me”, another personal favorite.

and they brought in their own soundsystem. and planes were re-routed from over the field. why? at the top of the stage structure, there were lights that beamed up, straight up, and you could see the stars coming out surrounding those columns of light. there was a recorded message from astronaut mark kelly, and a thank you from aung san suu kyi. the show had everything, and the bleachers we were standing in vibrated with the excitement of the fans. qwest field is known throughout the NFL as being the loudest stadium in the league, and even that didn’t throw the band off. despite having issues with his in-ear monitors, bono wasn’t flustered, didn’t sing off key, and the band relied on their 30+ year partnership to ensure that no amount of noise would throw them off.

i’ve been priviledged over the years to see a number of great shows. i still count soul coughing’s bumbershoot show as one of the best i’ve ever seen. but a u2 concert is a whole different animal, an experience that you can’t really describe. from the opening notes of “even better than the real thing” to watching the stadium light up with thousands of cell phones during “moment of surrender”, i don’t know that i’ve ever seen anything more beautiful and amazing.

*image via u2.com

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