Wednesday, October 12, 2005

U2: beautiful. Cell phones and beer: bad.
(or, love and peace or else I'm going to hurt someone)

U2 at Madison Square Garden, New York, October 10, 2005
-Kenyon Hopkin

You'd think that after three dates in the area in May and two at Madison Square Garden in the past weak would produce less of an energized crowd. With U2, that's just not the case. At least, not for this impressive third gig at MSG. And you'd think that being in section 419, facing the side of the stage, would be a drag. Not so. Not when it's an open stage and you're in Row A!

When they first came on for "City of Blinding Lights" (after the Arcade Fire over the PA got my fists pumping) the crowd was nearly deafening and a lot of the time it was difficult to even hear the music. Several people that posted at u2tours.com said that Bono's voice was a little off. I remember the singer from Keane (who were not bad) even mentioned that his voice wasn't up to par tonite (no one should be pointing that out, cause it only brings attention to it). I really didn't notice any flaw with his voice, but come on people, U2 is playing like 200 shows in a year, so what do you expect. It's amazing that they can play two hours each nite at all.

I was very ecstatic that they started with "City" again, but "Vertigo" and "Elevation" (why they chose to keep this in the set so long is beyond me, that song is weak), was like they were just going through the motions. I know they can't mix up sets TOO MUCH, but I'm just sick of those songs. The next two songs, however, more than made up for this: "I Will Follow" and "Electric Co." Most of the crowd was into "Follow" but (surprise, surprise) only a small percentage even knew "Electric Co." That was the first of a few songs where I was dancing and jumping around while the people around me were sitting down or just standing there like zombies.

"I Still Haven't Found" unexpectedly followed, I've never known of that song coming so early in a set. Then of course the crowd got energized again with "Beautiful Day." "Miracle Drug" slowed it down and again Bono had to dedicate the song to nurses, etc. and then "Sometimes You Can't Make it", which i don't even clearly remember them playing because I was probably sitting and putting my head on the guard rail in front of me. Good time for a break.

Then came the sorta charged-up-with-a-political-message segment with "Love and Peace," "Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky", all which were pretty rocking, with Bono playing a little drum kit on the ramp for "Love and Peace". After "Bulllet" was probably the most unexpected song (for me at least) of the nite: "Miss Sarejevo," a song they recorded under the name "Passengers" with Brian Eno and opera singer Pavorotti. Holy cow! Are you kidding me? I assumed it would be "Running to Stand Still" cause that's what usually comes after "Bullet". The Edge played piano instead of guitar for "Sarejevo" and sadly, most of the crowd didn't know it, and since it's a quiet song, I could hear people talking. As a result at that point, I pretty much hated most everyone there. This was a really special moment, and Bono was even singing Pavorotti's part, wow, impressive.

Favorites "Pride" and "Streets" of course followed and then the so so boring and overrated "One". (I'm pretty sure) just before "One" Bono had the crowd do the thing with the cell phones, which I find pretty ironic since he was talking about how they can do everything including lending support to the ONE campaign and yet here they were annoying the hell out of me with people calling their friends before and during the show (I kid you not, this guy next to me, who thankfully later moved cause he was in the wrong seat, called his friend during Keane like 5 minutes after getting there and says "yea, they're pretty good" and holds the phone up to record some of it to send to him. jerk)

The main set ended, they took a short break, and then the Zoo TV-like images were on the screens. Totally sweet. The best part of the show, second only to start of "City". It's like a new concert is starting, like you're at the Zoo TV tour in 1992. I happen to love "Zoo Station". Of course it's not a "hit", so not as many people are into it. I wish Bono moved around more for the song though as he did in the Zoo TV live from Sydney Australia video. Here he kinda just did the same movements when I saw them May 18, so that was just going through motions there. "The Fly". I'm sorry, that song is very average for U2. Why aren't they playing "Even Better Than the Real Thing" on this tour? That would work so much better, especially earlier in the set. "With or Without You" I was hoping would flow in from a previous song, it doesnt work too well after "Fly".

At that point it was 11:25, and my friend and I decided we needed to catch the 11:42 train (the next was at 1:04, dammit. yea yea I know, it's U2!), so just as they came on for the second encore with "All Because of You", we left, realizing it otherwise would have taken like 30 minutes to get from section 419 to the ground. I really hated to leave, especially after finding out they played "Bad" and "40". However they did play that May 18 so I'm not as upset. Hopefully they will play "Bad" November 21 (I'll be in a 200-level section near the stage). After the show, I was having second thoughts about Nov 21 and I wanted to sell the ticket. (get ready for the rant) I'll tell you why: phones, talking and beer. People, again: YOU PAID GOOD MONEY TO SEE U2, AND HERE YOU ARE DRINKING BEER (and spilling it on people), going to the bathroom or to get more beer (MSG is dumb for selling it) AND TALKING DURING THE SHOW ("yankees are down 2-1!"). I am sure there are bigger fans that deserved tickets more than you and got shut out. You just don't get it, this is one of the best bands and shows you will ever see, and some people appreciate it more than you and want to be incredibly focused and immersed in it. It's a chance/risk you have to take though. I guess my section could have been worse, it wasn't as awful as I am making it sound, it was just typical. I'm trying my luck on Nov 21, because well, U2 is the BOMB and this may be my last chance to see them, particularly at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Oh yea and um, I think I forgot to mention that the lights were pretty cool too.

Main Set: City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Elevation, I Will Follow, The Electric Co., I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (snippet of In a Little While), Beautiful Day (snippet of lou reed song), Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love and Peace or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet the Blue Sky, Happy Birthday/Miss Sarajevo, Pride, Where the Streets Have No Name, One (snippet of Ol' Man River.)

Encore 1: Zoo Station, The Fly, With or Without You. Encore 2: All Because of You, Yahweh, Bad, 40

photos and more at U2tours.com

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