Sunday, May 01, 2005

U2 Weekend

Today was our recovery day after a couple of nights in Vancouver for the big U2 show. It turned into a very social trip, starting with Myron and Tracey passing us just after we finished lunch at the Coldwater Hotel Pub in Merritt (recommended for a great burger). We met them at Moxies near GM Place for food and drinks later, feeling young, festive and decidedly kid-free.

At about 7:15 we wandered over to the show. Tracey and Tannis were behind the stage, but only five rows up -- they could read the teleprompter and knew which songs were coming up. Myron and I found a decent spot on the floor and mostly just endured the opening band. We felt quite far away from the stage until the intermission when one of the roadies came walking around the circular catwalk that extended out over the floor...suddenly we realized that we were going to be very close to the action. By the time the lights went down for the headliners, there were only 10 rows of people between us and the catwalk thingie.

Before I write pages of details, I should cover my basic impressions of the show. A few points to start, perhaps leaning into the more critical realm:
  • These guys are really showing their age. We all do, and that's fine, but it will get more difficult for Bono to pull off his rock-star-ego thing in the next few years. Thankfully, their musical talent (especially Bono's voice) hasn't missed a beat.
  • I usually consider U2 my "mellow music", but they really rock in concert -- incredibly intense, loud and energetic...way more so than the albums, especially for mid-tempo songs.
  • They should stick to the music. It's why they're so huge, but they seem to forget that at times. Even though I tend to agree with him, Bono's politics and personal philosophy seem so muddled and poorly articulated between songs that they make it harder to enjoy the music.
  • The spectacle of the whole thing was amazing, perhaps because I haven't been to a big show like this in many years. The massive crowd was utterly devoted, providing vocal support in deafening sing-a-longs, and people in the far corners of the upper deck standing and cheering throughout. I was also dazzled by the lights and video stuff.
So, those general ideas aside, it really all comes down to the songs. Here's how I might categorize the performances...

Incredible: Where The Streets Have No Name, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Bullet The Blue Sky, The Fly, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bad, Miracle Drug, Beautiful Day, City Of Blinding Lights

There's not much I can say about this bunch except that they were all truly outstanding. I was blown away. The Edge's guitar work was perfection on these ones, and I couldn't believe Bono's vocal skill and emotional intensity. Obviously my tastes are skewed toward the older songs, but the two from the new album were so much better live than on the recording. Where the Streets Have No Name was probably the highlight experience of the night for me -- the buildup, thumping bass, soaring chorus...everything about it was perfect.

Great: New Year's Day, Gloria, Vertigo, Zoo Station, Elevation, Running To Stand Still, One

These are all fantastic songs, and the performances were great, but they didn't quite have the impact of the ones I listed above. The slowest ones seemed to drag...but I was thrilled that they played the older songs. Vertigo really rocked.

Ugh: Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Mysterious Ways, All Because Of You, Original Of The Species, 40

Sorry, but these ones stank up the place. The first one especially -- terrible song, badly performed. Mysterious Ways probably doesn't belong on this list, but it has always been my least favourite Achtung Baby song and that album has so many better songs. Which is a segue into the list of the half-dozen tunes I would have loved to hear them play instead of these...

Songs I Wished They Had Played But Didn't: Ultraviolet, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, With or Without You, Discotheque, Gone

Especially the first was painful for me to not hear Ultraviolet. The dreaming aside, I looked through some of the setlists from past tours and I'm thinking that the list chosen for this tour couldn't have been much better. Overall, a fantastic show.

Friday morning I connected with my dear friend Cass, who lives a few blocks away, and blabbed for a few hours. In the afternoon Tannis and I put aside our Mennonite baggage and lounged in the calm sunshine at Wreck Beach, even taking a dip in the chilly ocean water. Thanks to Mark and Joel, we had a comfortable (and free!) place to stay both nights. We had a total blast with them the second evening, getting into a selection of cheeses, white wines and a series of topics that got more and more hilarious. Later on I kept the party going with Nick until 4am in his posh 27th-floor apartment overlooking the city. Waking up after four hours of sleep, I wasn't sure that it had been a wise decision, but it sure was fun. Angelo and Esther made us coffee and hung out with us in Chilliwack on our way out of town...the visit was too short, like always. And finally, we arrived back in Kelowna to pick up our girls. Thanks to my folks, who graciously took care of them, we got to be away long enough to really miss the little rugrats.

Phew...and that was it. Back to real life.


Heather said...

Wow, sounds amazing. I'm still totally jealous!

Ang said...

holy blogger batman
what an awesome account, i read every word and felt like i was there. i especially felt your disappointment for the mysteriously missing songs? Why do they do that? Whats with no wild horses? Better question, whats with sometimes you can't make it on your own? (ugh is right).

Jeremy said...

As an aside, I feel like you two are my surrogate sisters-in-law. Frank and Jeanne's generosity helped keep me sane in my university years, and I go way back with your dudes, so it's pretty cool to still be connected now...even if it is just through the computer screen.

And yes, the show was pretty cool. Expensive and culturally bizarre, though.

Ang said...

we hereby knight you honourary brother-in-law...