Apologies to support act, OneRepublic; but I’m afraid I had to Wikipedia them prior to the gig to find out who the hell they were. On checking out the track list for their Waking Up album, however, an “ahhhhhh” was soon forth-coming; (if that’s any consolation). Guess I’d already heard a few tracks on the radio without twiggin’ who was actually playing.
I was suitably impressed that reproducing their studio sound, was no problem for the lads. The vocals were spot on and the band seemed comfortable in a stadium venue. (Rather than overawed as one might reasonably expect). All the right moves actually earned the lads a #1 slot in the Swiss charts; so it’s not surprising that it received a warm welcome from the crowd. Tho’ I must confess that Secrets and Apologize stood out as better tracks for me, both before the gig and on the night itself.
As for the headliners themselves. What can I say about the 4 lads from Ireland that ain’t already been said? Not a lot really; so I won’t even attempt it. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a huge U2 fan since my University days; which was so long ago that Bono’s mullet was still the cutting edge of UK fashion. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, therefore, that this is the first time I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing them live. Not for lack of trying, I hasten to add.
Sure, in the early days, I didn’t have two pennies to rub together (as my old mum always says). But, by the time I did have the wonga, the lads were so ‘kin popular that getting tickets still wasn’t an option. Granted, I haven’t tried for tickets every time they’ve been in town. But on the occasions that I have; my frustration levels were sufficiently high, from lengthy ticket queues and web-sites brought to a stand-still, that it’s a good job I don’t have a cat to kick.
Imagine my sheer delight, 3 days before the gig therefore; when my better half managed to procure a couple of tickets from an acquaintance on facebook. Not only that, but as the lady in question was unavoidably called away and needed to shift the tickets in a hurry; we also managed to get ’em at a discount price. Niiiiiiiiiice! ;o)
I’m afraid the support act stole the best of the weather and for once I was kinda miffed that SwissMeteo got the forecast right. By the time U2 made their entrance the skies had already clouded over and rain soon followed. I had kinda mixed feelings about having seated tickets. As it’s never quite the same atmos’ as being in the mosh-pit. But on this occasion, I guess it saved us a thorough soaking. Thankfully the elaborate 360 stage set-up came with plenty of screen-space to project images of our heroes.
U2 made their usual confident entrance, to thunderous applause. Walking, nay strutting, out to meet the crowd. Lapping it up and allowing the fans time to savor the moment, before taking to the stage and kicking things off. I loved the whole concept of a stage that allowed the band to be surrounded by adoring fans. (Give everyone a great view of the band they’ve swarmed in their thousands to see). Shame, therefore, that at Letzigrund it was offset to one end, rather than dead-center where it should have been.
That slight niggle aside, U2 and the whole evening’s spectacle were absolutely cosmic. Kudos to the band and the crew, for holding things together during such abysmal weather. I only noticed one mic failure during the whole performance. (Thank God no-one was electrocuted). You could tell that U2 really are seasoned professionals, who’ve seen it all and appreciate their fans as much as their fans appreciate them. Not that the stage would have afforded them much cover anyway, but the band rose to the occasion as if it was just another sunny open-air afternoon.
All band members took to the various bridges and walk-ways at key points in the gig. Including Larry Mullen Jr., with drum slung over his shoulder and slappin’ the skins with his hands. Sure there were references to the weather here’n’there (not least a few ad-lib’d lines from Singin’ in the Rain on occasion). But Bono’s constant reminder “if you don’t mind, we don’t mind“, showed that it was all designed to keep the crowd’s spirits up. When he threw back his head and spread his arms it was more like a man enjoying a warm shower, than someone wishing he was somewhere else.
The weather was pants, but the band were friggin’ phenomenal. Despite the downpour Adam Clayton still ended up bare chested. His driving bass and Edge’s signature reverb-soaked guitar transcended the weather and almost made you forget they were also soaked with rain. (At least those of us in the shelter afforded by the seating area ;o)
The evening was filled with hit after hit, spanning a remarkable 3 decades. Hits like Vertigo and Elevation had them rockin’ in the aisles. One is an anthem that you just can’t help but sing along to. And whilst there were undoubtedly less people than the previous night’s concert; full volume classics like Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Where the Streets Have No Name fill every conceivable space in sight anyway! ;o)
The band were obviously chuffed to bits with the whole stage concept & execution…(see above)…and rightly so. The lighting, video and sound were most excellent (to quote Wayne & Garth). They entered to David Bowie’s Space Oddity and exited to Elton John’s Rocket Man. No doubt a reference to the Space Age grandeur.
Whilst I can’t argue with the quality of these two fine tracks. (And indeed woke up humming ’em the next day). I must confess that the structure also reminded me of a (Dr. Arliss Loveless) gigantic mechanical spider. I guess Will Smith’s Wild Wild West would have been a tad out of place tho’. Sorry boyz, just my mind going off at tangents. Excellent evening’s entertainment. I promise not to leave it so long in future.