My U2 concert review from 2009. They just recently finished this tour, so I thought it would make sense to repost my review from my old site.
Here it is, the review that no one was waiting for.
U2, Dallas & Norman
I’m reviewing both of these shows together, because they were very much identical. The only difference in the setlist, was the addition of In A Little While and Unknown Caller in Norman.
Let’s start with a little insight into my recent U2 fandom. It was fading. Call it age, call it having 2 kids, call it busyness with work, call it a lackluster album, whatever the reason, my U2 obsession has faded. Buying tickets at multiple shows was probably just a learned response to the tickets being offered. A few weeks before the shows I even thought to myself, “what am I doing going to these shows?”. Buy, I’m still cheap, and I paid for the tickets, and I decided to go ahead and go to both shows anyway. Would it be worth it? Keep reading.
The shows were very similar, but one way they were different was the venue. The Dallas show was in the new Jerrydome, which is unfreakingbelievably massive. Lots of reports about bad sound in the venue, but from 10 feet away from Bono, I didn’t notice. But the roof was closed, and in comparing that to the Norman show, being outside on a cool, crisp evening totally owned being inside Jerry’s new playpen. I was really stoked to see the show outside in the weather after being in the Jerrydome.
I stood in exactly the same place at the 2 different shows. Which is to say 10-15 feet from the stage, between where Bono stands and where Edge stands, so that I’d get the full effect of both of their antics.
I attended the Dallas show with my long time friend Nick Massad, his wife Monica, and 2 of their friends, who were great. The Norman show was, me, Jessica, and Dan U2 Fox.
Opening acts was the other main difference. I had never listened to Muse before the Dallas show, but I liked them immediately, which is weird for me. Thus I would give them an A+.
In Norman, the Black Eyed Peas opened which was totally different from Muse, but they were good and fun, even though I’m not really a fan.
Once the opening acts were finished, you have the usual hour or so wait for U2. The way U2 introduced their set was great. Space Oddity began playing loudly and the crowd went crazy. Everyone singing along loudly and you could feel the energy ramp way, way, way up!
Lights down, smoke machines on, spotlights swinging, here comes U2, first song….
Breathe - I’m not a fan of this song, and I don’t think it is a great show starter, but I was happy that it was first, since then it was out of the way. It just doesn’t open a show very well. Elevation, Vertigo, neither of which are great songs either, are much better openers. So were MoFo and Zoo Station.
Get On Your Boots - I really don’t like this song, it just sucks. It is a little better live, but still, this will be the only tour that they ever play this song on, because it is utterly forgettable.
Magnificent - now we’re talking! A new song I like, and that is pretty much a blatant worship song, at least form my perspective. At both shows I watched Bono pretty closely (and we were very close) and he seems to go into his spiritual, introspective, forget the crowd is there mode during this song. Which was really interesting, because from my biased viewpoint this continued into the next song…
Mysterious Ways - this is at this point an old war horse, they have played it at pretty much every show for 18 years. However at the 2 shows I went to there was no belly dancer, or chicks on stage, or anything else remotely dance clubish. Rather it seemed to me that more than ever this song was about the Holy Spirit, especially during the end when Bono went into the “oooh, the spirit moves me, ooh the spirit takes me, the spirit moves in mysterious ways” lines at the end. So at this point, I’m at church, but better.
Beautiful Day - Here comes the sun/God Only Knows - more spiritual stuff in this song, so the service, errr I mean concert, continues. In Dallas he tacked on Here Comes The Sun, but in Norman it was God Only Knows (Beach Boys), this was a new twist for me, and it was awesome, and yes I think it was meant to be sung to God, because the next song was…
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For , and this was the highlight for me, when the band stopped playing and the crowd took over, that was the absolute best part of the show. Amazing. So great, to hear 70,000 people singing a song that means so much to so many in their walk with Christ was just really mind blowing. I shot both videos in this post on my iPhone by the way. They look great for a phone.
Stuck In A Moment - I’ve never much cared for this song, Bono and Edge did it without Larry and Adam, so that was a nice change, but if they never played this song again, I wouldn’t miss it.
No Line On The Horizon - Bono actually said “we even have songs we can’t play yet” before they played this one. It wasn’t really clean, but I like this song, so it was fun for me. I’m really glad they played it, and I hope it gets better, because it’s a very good song.
Elevation - not my favorite, but a great song to be in the inner circle for.
In A Little While - this one was only done in Norman, they dedicated it to the astronauts at the space station, it was ho hum, because it’s a song that I have never liked, still don’t.
Unknown Caller - This is the tune from the new album that I really wanted to hear live! They didn’t play it in Dallas, and I was disappointed. So when they cranked it up in Norman I was super stoked. It’s freaking great live! They show the words on the giant screens, so it’s like a karaoke prayer meeting! I was emotionally moved by the song, it speaks to me at my core about being still and listening to God. This thing is loaded with scripture references. Jer. 33:3, 2 Cor. 5:17, Is. 53:6, Is. 46:10 and from what I’ve read the final 1:30 of the song is taken from a hymn called “My Savior’s Love”, so this kept the whole spiritual experience going from me. Heck I even teared up a little bit during this song, which was appropriate because the next song makes me tear up every single time.
The Unforgettable Fire - get out your XXXL throwback jersey for this one. It always reminds me of driving back and forth to Austin in college, because I listened to the album on nearly every trip. Great to hear it.
City of Blinding Lights - at both of the shows he brought a 10-13 year old boy on the stage, different kids in each city. He walked the kid around the catwalk during the song, and really seemed to look into both of their faces and long for his youth during the tune. Bono can emote when necessary.
Vertigo - great live song, crowd went nuts.
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (remix) - I’m not a big fan of the remix, but the crowds seem to like it.
Sunday Bloody Sunday - old school, but with a new twist. Showing pictures of students in Iran, so it makes this song relevant again. Not the best version though, that will always be the version on the Rattle and Hum DVD. This song starts the political portion of the set, which I usually dread because Bono gets to preachy. So I was pleasantly surprised when the Bonologue was short and very upbeat and positive. He even compliment GW Bush for the US work in Africa, and in Dallas he name checked Eugene Peterson (The Message translation) and Peb Jackson (former fundraiser with Young Life)!
MLK - great to hear, short intro for….
Walk On - I’m not a huge fan of this tune, but it seems to be the new One, so it’s probably going to be in every show forever.
One - always great!
Amazing Grace - you don’t get much more overtly Christian than this!!!!!!!
Where the Streets Have No Name - they will never do a show without this song. It is a guaranteed crowd exciter. Yet another song with a heavy spiritual twist.
Ultraviolet - surprise! A song they haven’t played since the first Clinton administration! Awesome, especially with Bono’s laser jacket and funky trapeze/microphone!
With or Without You - my favorite U2 song, but for the love of all that is good and true, please stop playing this song live!!!!! Bono has been singing this song like he was a lounge singer for at least 4 tours, and it just sucks, it pulls all the life and passion out of the song.
Moment of Surrender - last song, I interpret this one to be the moment one come’s to Christ, I’ve read some other thoughts too, but I like this interpretation best. It’s not 40, but I was singing all the way home in my head.
The Norman show is probably my 2nd favorite U2 show ever to attend. It was that freaking good, the Dallas show would be right behind it. This tour was much more of a spiritual experience than I had anticipated, and I think that was intentional on U2’s part.