You can know all the facts about the U2 360 Degree tour and its signature stage, the “claw”.
That it’s a 90-foot tall steel structure, designed to support 180 tons.
That it takes four days to build.
That it’s allowed U2 to break all concert attendance records.
You can know that the band has 3 custom-built claw stages for their tour, and that as one is being dismantled, another is being erected.
But you cannot really know anything until you’ve actually seen the spectacular four-legged contraption for yourself, lighting up the night sky, illuminating hit song after hit song.
You don’t know anything until you’ve see the “claw” send U2’s concert into orbit.
After an intro from David Bowie’s Space Oddity, U2 opened with Even Better Than the Real Thing, as Bono welcomed the crowd to New Meadowlands last night, a year after this specific concert date had been re-scheduled on account of the singer’s back injury. U2 certainly made up for the lost time, playing well over 2 hours, in an epic show that was as passionate as it was Magnificent.
Oh, but there was probably a little more sweat than usual.
With a heatwave ripping through the state, Bono had to nip off stage a few times, saying that “if you’re an Irishman, you’ll know this is hot!” (It didn’t help that he was wearing his trademark black leather jacket!) But the heat didn’t stop him too much from injecting life into the space-ship claw that housed the band for the show, running around the moving circular part of the stage, swinging on his hanging microphone and, in Get On Your Boots, pushing his sweaty forehead up against Adam Clayton’s.
“It’s been 30 years since we first played in Jersey – at this club called The Fastlane,” he says. “Is it gone? Well, we’re still here!” And with that, Bono took out the set-list of that first show at the defunct but infamous club, and read out the songs they played back then, noting which ones they still do. “Some things change, others stay the same,” he quips. “Larry Mullen (Jnr) is still trying to figure out why it’s called U2 and not the Larry Mullen Band.”
“Me, I haven’t changed much,” Bono says. “I’m still a man of simple means. Two hundred trucks, 400 tons of equipment, 95 000 people, and I’m a happy man.” Yet his words, almost cheekily, lead into I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. He sings the first two lines at least, before the audience completely takes over – as they would in a number of songs that followed.
So many favourites were performed back to back – Mysterious Ways, Stay, Pride (In the Name of Love), Sunday Bloody Sunday, One, and Beautiful Day, which astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who is recovering from being shot at a rally earlier this year, helped intro from space. His image beaming down to the crowd was incredible.
There was no video from Desmond Tutu, as friends in South Africa and elsewhere have experienced, but there was one from Burmese human rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi. And for their peers, Bono name-checked Bruce Springsteen, much to the delighted cheers of “Brooooooce”. The band also paid tribute to the recently deceased pride of Jersey, Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for the E-Street Band. Bono picked up a poster someone had made “For Clarence”, placing it in front of the stage, before going into Moment of Surrender. The lights off, candles from an Amnesty tribute were left flickering on the stage.
For all the technicoloured glory of the claw, with its lighting changes that shift the mood from one feeling to another, and its small but powerful glitter ball on the top of the contraption that beams good vibes out into the night sky, it still relies on a simple source of power – Edge’s guitar, Larry Mullen Jnr’s drums, Adam Clayton’s bass, Bono’s vocals and stage antics.
As long as the man himself keeps asking “What time is it in the world?”, fans will forever be yelling back: “Showtime!”
And long may it be so.
[ Setlist ]
Even Better Than The Real Thing
Until The End Of The World
I Will Follow
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Beautiful Day / Space Oddity (snippet)
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
City Of Blinding Lights
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight [with Discothèque (snippet) / Psycho Killer (snippet) / Life During Wartime (snippet)]
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Where The Streets Have No Name
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender
Out Of Control