Giant Anniversary Rock
By Dwip September 25, 2009, 7:33 pm Comments (1) RSS Feed for this post

Not actually what you may think, although if you guessed that Sarah’s and my second anniversary was a short time ago, you would be correct.

As to the giant part and the rock part, it was decided that, in honor of the occasion and since we first met in person for the purpose of seeing U2 on tour in 2005, we ought to go see them on tour in 2009, because really why wouldn’t you do this. And by decided, I mean that it went about like this:

Her: U2 is totally playing at Giants Stadium! We are going!
Me: I guess I could fight you about this, but why, really?

So we hopped the train out there, which is shorthand for saying that we took Metro North to Grand Central, took the subway to Times Square, took another subway to Penn Station, took a train to Secaucus Junction, and then took another train to the Meadowlands complex where the stadium is. Call it about 4 hours worth of trains or so, punctuated by periods of sprinting and waiting in gigantic mobs of people. It is an experience in mass transit I hope to never to repeat, only I did in an even worse fashion on the way back. More on that later.

I am reliably informed by this helpful site that our setlist was:

– Muse as the opener, who played some random stuff I couldn’t make out because they suffered from OpeningBandsHaveCrappySounditis, which is the number one killer of interest in opening bands for me, and I’d be sorry about that Kings of Leon except your CD sucked too.
– Breathe
– Get On Your Boots
– Mysterious Ways, which we both really wanted them to play;
– Beautiful Day (of all things)
– No Line On the Horizon
– Magnificent
– Elevation
– I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For into Stand By Me
– Unknown Caller, whose lyrics do not magically make more sense when turned into a sing along;
– Until the End of the World, which has never sucked live in the entire history of mankind, and didn’t suck last night either, and seriously if you sent U2 back into the stone age and gave them gravel and told them to play this it would still sound awesome and yes I’m biased but it’s still true so shut up and woo run-on sentence;
– Stay (Faraway, So Close!), wherein Bono botched the lyrics but it still sounded great because it’s another song that will forever be awesome no matter what, and ask Billy Corgan if you think I’m wrong;
– The Unforgettable Fire, which prompted a conversation later in line along the lines of:

Me: What was that random 80s b-side they played that one time?
Sarah: You mean Unforgettable Fire? That’s not a b-side. That’s the TITLE TRACK TO AN ALBUM.
Me: …well, shit.

– City of Blinding Lights, about which I said in 2005 “This was cool, not so much because I LIKE City of Blinding Lights (though hearing songs I don’t like live seems to jack the Awesome-O-Meter way way up).” This appears to be true in its time much as it’s true today, and in fact for the most part I was enthusiastic about even songs I didn’t really love.
– Vertigo into It’s Only Rock and Roll
– I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight, which was apparently a remix I’d never heard.
– Sunday Bloody Sunday, about which I will say more in a moment;
– MLK, which I’d never really expected and was thrilled by because it’s a favorite;
– Walk On, which…eh, but it was good.
– One into Amazing Grace, prefaced by Desmond Tutu on the video screens talking about the One campaign. Flashing back to prior to the show:

Sarah: …and really, I think Bono tried to go too far in his political activism and failed in coopting religious Americans, and anyway when was the last time you heard about the One campaign? It’s like, dead and gone.
Me: We shall see.

– Where the Streets Have No Name, which was by this point utterly generic but tied in well with the whole curing AIDS in Africa message so hey, why not;
– Ultraviolet, and later I was slightly surprised Sarah was still with me, because I had been completely sure that at this very point during the show she had been transformed into a large puddle of flaming liquid squee, but I guess not.
– With Or Without You, which I finally got to hear live, so can I get a big hell yes to that;
– Moment of Surrender, which was ok but wasn’t even on the scale with the version of 40 that ended our Philly concert wherein, 10 minutes later in the parking lot people were STILL singing the end.

All in all, a wildly solid setlist, and filled with things I’d really like them to play, and things Sarah would really like them to play. I think the only thing I actually missed was 40, and I can handle that.

A few other general comments:

– In concertgoing days of yore, we had Fist-Pumping Man at the first U2 concert, and Hopping Girl at the Pumpkins show. The guest of honor tonight was Horns Guy, who was probably about 50, had a Madison Square Gardens shirt from the Vertigo tour, sung along to everything, got seriously jiggy with it more than once, and spent the first half of the show throwing the horns. Which, ok, two things here:

1. I had not been previously aware that U2 was quite that metal;

2. If the current trajectory continues, I’m pretty much on track to become that guy.

– As it was, my Vertigo ’05 shirt made me way awesomer than the people in U2360 shirts and Vertigo ’06 shirts, and put me on par with the sizable minority in Vertigo ’05 shirts. However, I was comfortably outclassed by the two guys in Elevation tour shirts, the two guys in PopMart shirts from ’97, and the guy we saw in a no shit ZooTV shirt from…(checks)…1992. I was also completely outclassed by the guy in the kilt and the guy wearing a Scottish flag as a cape.

– Speaking of shirts, I’m fairly comfortable with (and in) my tour shirt. Unlike the Vertigo shirts which were fairly lesser of evils choices, there were at least three U2360 shirts I felt ok with.

– As to the whole 360 degrees playing in the round thing…eh. U2 did it about as well as could be expected, which is to say a bunch of neat moments where somebody would run around back to play to us in the back specifically, but ultimately I’m not sure watching them on a giant video screen was as awesome as the experience we got during the Vertigo tour. That said, highlights of the thing included:

* Bono channeling Prefontaine and doing laps around the stage during the end of Until the End of the World
* Bono coming backstage pretty much period
* Larry coming on back with a hand drum of some sort and rocking the hell out of it during I’ll Go Crazy

– The effects were hit and miss. Lots of generic stuff. Desmond Tutu before One was actually quite good. They single-handedly rescued Sunday Bloody Sunday from sucking by showing a bunch of images of the unrest in Iran and tying the song to that. There were some pillars of light that they did that were cool, although there were a couple of moments of pillars of light versus jetliner landing at Newark a thousand feet away excitement if you were watching for them. Ultimately I liked the Vertigo spectacle better, but this wasn’t shabby.

– Also, at the end of the video for One, they had the buffalo from the video and the single run across the image superimposed briefly.

Apparently, if we are to believe U2 and Wikipedia, last night (and the show the night before) set a record at 84,467 people in a stadium meant for 78k and change. And since I tried to escape all of those people, I believe it. When we got out, there were two giant mobs of people, one going to the parking garage, the other going to the train station. Because we are dumb, we got in the one for the garage before a helpful guy pointed us to the other line. Where we spent like an hour. Which kind of sucked. Remember that sequence of trains? It was about as fun in reverse, alternating between epic mobs of people (Meadowlands-Secaucus, Secaucus-Penn), mad sprinting (pretty much everywhere), somebody’s gigantic fresh bloodstain (Times Square), and some epic feet hurtage (also everywhere). Ultimately we got back at about 4am and went to sleep.

Intermediaries inform me that my legs should be ready to begin speaking to me again in a couple of days, but until then they apparently have decided I should suffer.

Worth it, though.

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Comments on Giant Anniversary Rock
avatar Comment by Regina #1
September 26, 2009 at 1:13 am

A couple of things you didn’t mention:

Bono showed up in a black leather jacket, and the rest of the band looked pretty snazzy too. (On that note, my concert shirt is still awesomer than your concert shirt.)

The last song over the PA system before U2 came on was Space Oddity, which is a nice little nod to what the claw stage looks like.

The rest of the world brought cameras and tried to capture/record the whole show. We did not because, in this new modern age, why take your own pictures from the back when you can get the ones people on the floor will upload, and why try to record when a clean torrent of the bootleg will be up with in a week?

Also, a public service announcement: if you were thinking of maybe seeing a U2 show one of these days, I strongly suggest getting tickets sooner rather than for later tours, because Bono’s voice, while still pretty good (see: Magnificent, Unforgettable Fire, COBL, Ultraviolet), is not quite what it used to be. I’m pretty sure we’ll never see, say, Dirty Day live ever again, because it’s got too much falsetto. There’s a reason there’s a lot of full-band vocals on the new album. About what you would expect from a singer who’s pushing 50, but a little sad nonetheless. My heroes are getting older…

But still, there was this one moment, after the show had ended, where they all walked to the back, and then stood in a row at the stop of the steps off the stage, listening to the applause. Our seats were directly behind the stage, so we could see them clearly, and here they were, four old friends, looking thrilled to pieces with what they’d pulled off. Larry, grinning, said something to Bono, and he smiled. It was the only time I wished I’d brought my camera.