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U2 - 360° Tour 1st leg: Europe

2009-08-15: Wembley Stadium, London - England

( other U2 shows at this location )

<<< 2009-08-14 - London | 2009-08-18 - Glasgow >>>


Review

2009-08-28 - U2 clawing at the crowd submitted by Justin Camilleri

U2 clawing at the crowd

Justin Camilleri

One 2009 summer event that will live in the hearts of many concert revellers is undoubtedly the U2 360º Tour concert that took place at Wembley Stadium on 15th August. More than 85,000 people packed the venue hailing the U2 gig as the legendary stadium’s highest attendance ever. Indeed a shiney jewel to the venue’s crowning status as the most popular venue for outdoor live shows.

When one is finally in front of the stage it finally dawns on one why it’s called the 360º Tour as the stage is round. At 164 feet, the U2 mammoth stage dubbed The Claw towered over the crowd in the centre of the stadium, an inherent homage to the classic film War of the Worlds, this giant spectacle has even managed to top the herculean height of The Rolling Stones stage set from their Bigger Band Tour.

Each leg of the static U2 claw shape flying saucer had its own sound system, not to mention the circular catwalk and the larger than life cylindrical video screen that ensured a sense of intimacy with the audience not just in front of the stage but all around.

With Wembley packed in full circle, while we rattled and hummed in anticipation all I could see was a sea of U2 die hard fans donning T-shirts of their favourite band’s past and current tours performing the Mexican wave. From the start of the show we were in for a spectacle, as smoke engulfed the whole stage, the sounds of David Bowie’s classic hit Space Oddity enthralled the audience.

As Ground Control made contact with Major Tom it was clear that Dublin’s finest touched down at Wembley. Amid the haze of smoke the man himself – Bono in his trademark shades and black leather jacket appeared accompanied by The Edge on guitar, Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr on drums.

A rousing rendition of drum beats kicked off the show as Bono belted out Breathe a tune that held the audience warmed up as the band certainly had more tricks in store tor the rest of the night.

U2 soon pumped up the volume with the title track of their latest album No Line On The Horizon. However, what set the mood and tone of the show was Get On Your Boots. As the band mesmerised audiences with their guitar riffs and relentless drum beats The Edge and Adam Clayton played to the Crowd on the circular catwalk and U2 devotees got what they came for with the next number – the aptly named Magnificent, a testament of how this band has survived three decades.

Indeed, Bono’s magnificent voice blended with the melodic chords of the tune’s percussion beats as the crowd turned their swaying into hand clapping worship.

Just as the lights dimmed and Bono gave a cheeky take on the popular London Bridge nursery rhyme the band soon had the entire crowd rocking with their 2000’s anthem A Beautiful Day. Fans cheered as the star studded tune was totally befitting for the jam packed event leaving 86,000 people singing ecstatically. Not even half-way through the show and I was already exhausted from all the waving and cheering.

U2’s moment of elevation came in Until The End Of The World as crowd members were passengers fully immersed in a voyage of euphoric motion as white lights fired down from The Claw to the main stage, and the screens captured black and white video shots of Bono singing and the monster guitar riffs of The Edge.

The euphoric ascent on cloud nine rocketed with New Year’s Day which was further heightened with the awaited classic I Still Haven’t Found What I am Looking For. Just as Bono sang out the opening lyrics the crowd raised their hands and sang along to the band’s 1980’s classic.

Mellowness came to the fore with an unplugged version of Stay, indeed the soothing acoustic guitar coupled with Bono’s gentle voice brought out an aura of quiet warmth that echoed all through Wembley, in contrast to the lead singer’s rip roaring vocals in Unknown Caller and the superb footage where the refrain lyrics shown onscreen just added to the atmosphere.

Unforgettable Fire was the highlight. Fans braced themselves as the vast array of scanner lights, video projections of giant flames burning and last but not least the 360 cylindrical video screen was shown in all of its glory as like a spaceship the hydraulic grid descended towards the floor of the stage dwarfing the whole stadium.

The lights certainly shone on us that night, as the audience were then treated to Bono’s stellar performance of City of Blinding Lights. Just as Bono walked the circular catwalk hordes of U2 devotees took pictures with their mobile cameras as neon lights emanated from the multi-screen grid, and lights swept the stage as the charismatic frontman thumped his hands in the air.

Vertigo fired on all atomic cylinders as The Claw stage took a life of its own as the lights and projections were not just there to admire visually, they were there to embrace as they made you feel part of the experience. More so in the aptly named I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight as soon as U2’s giant faces shown onscreen everyone was literally stomping their feet, whistling and clamping to the beats. Indeed Wembley was definitely ready for take off.

Bono is not one to be stopped from consistently exhibiting his prowess onstage of highlighting world problems of which John Lennon would be proud as prior to Sunday Bloody Sunday the screens were inundated with shots of the plight of Iranian protestors. Not to mention dedicating Walk On to the imprisoned Burmese opposition leader Aung San-Suu Kyi.

The heartful crescendo was reached during Where The Streets Have No Name – the crowd simply went wild cheering and chanting to a tune that sounds as fresh now as when it was first released 22 years ago. However, what tugged at the emotional strings was One, the band’s career defining world anthem.

For many the long awaited act came when the band played Bad a song that raises awareness on the horrors of Heroin addiction, and raised goosebumps just as Ultraviolet (Light My Way) was played, what stood out was beyond doubt Bono’s red laser lights attached to his jacket.

The pinnacle of the show had to be With Or Without You as Wembley was transformed into a gigantic discotheque as the mirror ball effect resonated all throughout the stadium. While the audience shouted for more before the atmsopheric finale of Moment of Surrender, Bono asked the stage lights to be dimmed down, and there you had it Wembley Stadium was transformed into a galaxy of mobile phones.

This was undeniably a lavish event. U2 have continued to cement their position as a great rock band to be reckoned with, as their live performances, magnificent stages, outstanding lights, projections and special effects bring that sense of grandeur to outside venues giving their audience a great time and a show with attitude, atmosphere and excitement.After years of watching and listening to U2 through various mediums, there’s nothing better than the real thing!!


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