Chi-Town Part 2

The initial reason that we planned the trip was around a U2 concert. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the blog that I lucked out that my wife is a big live music person. Anyway, I’d seen quite a few concerts before meeting Sara and was excited to share some of my favorite bands that have since become some of her favorite bands both live (Green Day) and on cd (Angels and Airwaves). The one band she’s said she’d die to see in concert was U2. Being a little younger and a little more of a hard rock fan, I figured if they ever came around, I’d go for her but wouldn’t be overly excited about it. I mean, going into this concert I liked a few U2 songs but wouldn’t say that I was just a U2 fanatic.

After the concert… I’m a U2 fanatic.

In March, we learned U2 was going to tour and we pegged Chicago as our city we were going to try to see them at. In order to get tickets, I had to shell out $50 for the fan club in order to get on the pre-sales list. When the pre-sale came around, we bought two tickets at $250 a pop (which is an unheard of amount of cash to see a concert to me) and the best seats I could get were in the third deck. Figuring what the heck, this is the only times we’ll ever see them, I pulled the trigger. Little did I know that the third deck was actually a real primo seat and people who were sitting below us int he second deck weren’t able to see the whole stage!

Onto the concert. For some lame-brained reason, I read in the paper that the show started at 8. The tickets said 7 PM, but I never checked. So, if you are wondering how the opening act Snow Patrol was… we have no idea! We missed them completely. Anyway, we walked into Soldier Field and I was blown away at how big the stage was. 

It’s hard to see, but if you look closely, you can see the top of Soldier Field in line with the lights. It’s one thing to see a picture and to hear me say “…it was really big” but to see it in person was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Keep in mind, I’m a veteran of about 100+ concerts. Sara and I both agreed that we don’t think that stage fits inside the Metrodome. Anyway, as you can see by the picture, U2 performs in the middle with an “inner circle” of people around them. Outside of that is a catwalk that they could come around and interact with the fans on all sides. If I could have made one change, I would’ve had the center stage slowly rotate in 360 degrees so they were always performing to a different part of the crowd. You can’t see it in this picture, but above the stage is an enormous 360 degree big screen.

I’ve been to big concerts before, but I’ve never seen a whole football stadium plus the floor sold out. David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” came on as an intro and I don’t think a single person really sat down until Elton John’s “Rocketman” played the band off the stage.

In between the intro and outro, I got to see what undoubtedly was the best concert I’ve ever seen. Bono is a great lead who knows how to work the crowd. The Edge sounds fantastic live (so does Bono). What amazed me is how precise their music sounded even though the four guys in the band sometimes weren’t within 50 feet of one another.

In case you were wondering, their setlist went like this:

No Line on the Horizon
Get On Your Boots
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
Unknown Caller
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight Remix Version
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender

While there wasn’t a song that I was down on, my favorite live song was “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I was super-impressed with some of their newer stuff – Breathe, No Line on the Horizon, Magnificent, and I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight were all highlights of the show. Their old stuff (Sunday Bloody Sunday, One, Pride, and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For) stood out as still solid. I was suprised how much I liked Vertigo live (I’m a little played out on that song). The two most underrated gems of the night, though, were Elevation and City of Blinding Lights.

Seeing how good their new stuff was in concert, though, really made me think they’ve got more in the tank than I once believed. When you look at other acts that could sell out a football stadium (there aren’t many – we guessed the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elton John, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Garth Brooks). Between all of those artists, here’s the amount of good songs in the last 15 years (as judged by yours truly):

Rolling Stones – 0
Aerosmith – 3 (Living on the Edge, Crazy, and Crying)
Bruce – 4 (Streets of Philadelphia, Secret Garden, The Rising, and The Wrestler)
Billy Joel – 0
Elton John – 2.5 (Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Circle of Life, and Candle in the Wind even though that songs sucks)
Madonna – Good songs = close to zero, but hit songs – 12 (too many to list, look it up yourself)
Bon Jovi – 4 (Always, Everyday, It’s My Life, This Ain’t a Love Song)
Metallica – 15 (yikes, wasn’t expecting that many, but I forgot everything they touched was gold in the late-90s)
Garth Brooks – Debatable, but not many
U2 – 16 (Sweetest Thing, Staring at the Sun, Beautiful Day, Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Elevation, Walk On, Vertigo, Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, City of Blinding Lights, All Because of You, The Saints are Coming, Get on Your Boots, Magnificent, Breathe, No Line in the Horizon, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight)

I think that says something about this band. A few of the bands on the list are well beyond their prime (Rolling Stones and Aerosmith), but it’s quite amazing how much good music U2 is making at the point in the career of most musicians where they, quite frankly, suck.

So without getting to long-winded, if you are at all a fan of U2, I recommend you pony up, pay the big bucks, and enjoy one of the greatest concerts you’ll ever see. I’d bet anything that you don’t regret it!