04 December 2010

U2 - Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
3 December 2010

U2 are in Australia. They flew here on a private jet, and it took a crew of 250 to assemble their massive stage ensemble.

I saw them in concert last night. It was their second Australian concert. You can read a review of their first Australian concert held on 1 December in Mebourne here.

For a band with so many hits prior to 2005, and not many since, U2's relevance is still maintained. Proof? By making a surprise guest appearance on Hamish and Andy's last radio broadcast before their Melbourne concert last night...

...and recognising World Aids Day at the Sydney Opera House with Australian PM Julia Gillard on Tuesday night.
Offstage, Bono is like Jesus. He can mix with all walks of life - Prime Ministers and cute larrikin radio hosts.

He also wears double leather really relatively well (as judged by me, from a far distance from the stage).
Yet looks good damn fine in a suit.
During the concert, I was thinking that Bono hasn't taken those glasses off since the 80s.
He doesn't even let Obama see him without glasses.
I had to Google what he looks like without sunglasses...and I found this:
Woah! I didn't actually Google 'Bono without a bra'. Honest.

Here he is with visible eyes. And a shirt on. Phew.
Apologies for my massive tangent. I've had a lot of coke (a cola) at the concert, and now I'm wide awake, mind a racing. I didn't mean to focus on Bono's appearance so much. (I expect this entry will be another one of those that attracts defensive comments from hardcore fans. To the hardcore fans: I am a fan too, just happen to see the funny side of things, and I am a bit cynical at times. I am not intending to hurt Bono's feelings. Ok.)

The point of this blog entry was to write about their Melbourne concert at Etihad Stadium on Friday 3 December 2010. And so I will. The following photos were all taken by me.

The stage was elaborate. They performed in a round, on multiple levels and bridges - it is the 360 tour afterall.

There was the claw:
And this massive pylon that pierced the top of the claw - it's purpose was to lower the massive and ever changing video screens. The Age states 'The claw itself stands 30.53 metres high (with the pylon, it's 51.8 metres)'.
Jay Z opened the show. Unlike Myf Warhurst who lightly stalked Jay Z and Beyonce earlier in the week, I don't see the appeal. Some fans went to the concert just to see him.
I never wanted to see him. So I left it as long as I could to go to the concert. I wrote the following on Facebook the other day: Ok so I am seeing U2 on Friday. I really don't want to see Jay Z support U2. I wondering if I can go tag-team with my ticket and a fan of Jay Z? They could see Jay Z, run out, give me my ticket, and I could see U2. Deal?

Following that status, friends who went to U2 on Wednesday warned me against him. And one friend advocated tag-teaming - she successfully did it at Duran Duran and Robbie Williams.

I felt like the most disinterested person in the stadium during Jay Z. I saw him do (sing isn't the right word?) about five songs, and three of those were covers. I was bored. What is he famous for?? I admit my interest was roused when he did Empire State of Mind.

When U2's concert commenced, the audience went wild. Larry Mullen Jnr. Adam Clayton. The Edge. And Bono.

U2 are the sort of superstars you'd expect to land on stage from a drop from their private jet. But like most other humans, they walked up the steps onto the stage.
I was pleased they played so many songs from my two favourite albums of theirs. Achtung Baby (Mysterious Ways, The End of the World, Light My Way and One) and All That You Can't Leave Behind (Beautiful Day, Stuck in a Moment - dedicated to Michael Hutchence, Elevation, Walk On - closed with You'll Never Walk Alone, and In a Little While).

The light show was spectacular.
The video screens went around the stage, at various heights through the show, allowing for viewing by all areas of the stadium.
They did their other greatest hits too - With Or Without You, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights, New Years Day, Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday. But it was evident that they may never have songs as popular as these ones during their more recent songs, when the audience was less responsive.

These were my favourite light effects of the night, during City of Blinding Lights.

I thought this was pretty cool too - though I can't remember what song it was.

The concert, in true human rights crusading form, was a little bit preachy. Celebrating the release of Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi. Make Poverty (and AIDS) History. Sunday Bloody Sunday was brought into the post 9/11 world with images of women in hijabs and terrorism scenes from the Middle East.
The picture below shows the round lit up with Amnesty lights.

There was some nostalgic U2 thrown in - old video footage from before the time they took over the world. Footage from when Bono had long hair. There was a cool image of the Harmony Motel, which was featured in photos in the jacket of Joshua Tree album (facts about U2 geography here).

I felt that concert magic lacked in the seated area simply because Etihad Stadium is so huge. Perhaps if I'd been in the standing zones (impossible with my current sore skin) I'd have felt more of that concert rush I love so much. It wasn't that the audience around me weren't excited - there was singing, dancing and arm waving. But it's a different atmosphere compared to a smaller venue, even Rod Laver.

There was a brilliant moment where Bono picked a girl from the 50 000 strong audience in In a Little While, and she was asked on stage. He held her hand, hugged her and sang to her. So exciting for her. But that brilliant moment was lost way back in the seating area - there was hardly footage of Bono and the girl on the screens (maybe for privacy reasons??) - instead the video footage was of astronauts. The vast space in the stadium meant the excitement that should have been shown for the girl onstage was lacking.

I also felt that some of the animation was amateur. I agree with the reviewer on The Vine:
OK, if the focus is meant to be on the Claw and it's state of the art video screen, why are so many of the images projected on it so...amateurish? A cartoon sequence between the first encore is particularly lame, looking like it was made in MS Paint, and any time words are randomly laid over the screen it conjures images of an early '90s "how to use your computer" CD-ROM. Alternatively, the flashbacks to the band having their photos taken at Joshua Tree during the Rattle n Hum era add - funnily enough - a much-missed human element to the night; so too the synchronised face arrangement during the aforementioned 'I'll Go Crazy...'. But otherwise it is, essentially, like someone's left a TV turned on to the community channel.
Despite my criticisms, I thought it was a great concert. I enjoyed it more than when I saw them in 2006. Last night I had a cheap ticket, so I didn't expect to be close to the stage. But my view was good - heightened by the 360 degree video screens and stage.

The stage was so huge and as mentioned, it took a crew of 250 to assemble. About six songs to the end, a heap of tradies came onto the ground, ready for the dismantle. Here are just a few:
There was so much to look at - it was a concert of epic proportions. (Much like the length of this blog entry.)
The band's stage presence constantly amazed me. They were full of energy, and don't show signs of retiring. Bono ran, air-punched and danced on sage. They put out a big sound for four men. Bono's voice and the guitar work were...classic. At times I was pinching myself, thinking 'wow, I'm actually seeing U2 play [insert classic song here]'.

They paint an iconic image lined up on stage waving the crowd goodbye.
And when Bono commands the crowd, the crowd obeys. Hands and phones in the air on command. Running to whatever part of the stage he's standing at (even when he's just posing like a rock star, and not looking at the fans). Onstage he's a different kind of Jesus. More of a rock God. But despite this super status, he and the band left the stage the same way they came on. Walking side by side, in unity, down the steps. Like regular humans do.

Here is the setlist:
  1. Return Of The Stingray Guitar
  2. Beautiful Day / Blackbird (snippet)
  3. New Year's Day
  4. Get On Your Boots
  5. Magnificent
  6. Mysterious Ways
  7. Elevation
  8. Until The End Of The World
  9. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Movin' On Up (snippet)
  10. Stuck In A Moment
  11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
  12. In A Little While
  13. Miss Sarajevo
  14. City Of Blinding Lights
  15. Vertigo / Rockaway Beach (snippet)
  16. Funky Town (snippet) / Crazy Tonight / Relax (snippet) / Two Tribes (snippet)
  17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  18. Scarlet
  19. Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)
  20. Encore(s):
  21. One / I'll Stand By You (snippet)
  22. Amazing Grace (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
  23. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
  24. With Or Without You
  25. Moment of Surrender
(setlist source)


      1. Wonderful insight into the U2 Concert Carly another friend went last night but do not know what he thought. Hope you have a great rest of the weekend Robynxxx

      2. As a massive fan of hip-hop, I have to say that your 'what is jay-z famous for' remark was like a knife to the heart for me ;)

      3. Carly, thanks for the review it was great! I love Bono and U2 and i think that Bono looked at his sexiest around the time of the Joshua Tree album... with long black hair YUM. I wish i went to the concert!!

      4. Looks like you had a fantastic day! Happy birthday, too! And I hope you're feeling much better. <3

      5. Fantastic review and preamble, Carly!

        SSG xxx

      6. aw. so jelous! i love U2 and really, really wanted to go, but.... nevermind. Sounds like you had an awesome time, and happy birthday too!

        MagickalGoddess :)

      7. Hey Carly, I am still laughing about those "no glasses" photos. It's amazing how someone can look so ordinary in his swimmers, but be such a legend in those glasses. His wife has probably banned him taking them off in public.

        I saw U2 in 2006 too, and I have a terrible confession: I was bored out of my scone. I like a few of their songs (eg Beautiful Day) but otherwise am left cold.

        Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog, and good luck with NQN's Hestor Blumenthal comp!

      8. Nice claw, hey? haha. And I agree, lol at the no glasses pics. I have never seen a pic without him wearing them. Strange. I definitely see JayZ's appeal, personally :) Looks like a great concert. I can imagine that they have great energy. They're a legendary band, totally.
        Heidi xo

      9. Hey Carly! My name iS sarah the girl who wad pulled u on stage on Friday night, just wanted to say your review is awesome! One of the best shows I've seen, the atmosphere was outrageous.
        I would say it was an even better performance than they did in Dublin, we were pretty luckyhere in Melbourne! Hope u enjoyed it.

      10. Anonymous,
        I have amazing photos of you on stage if you would like a copy let me know.

      11. Hi Sarah,

        I was there that night too and have some great photos of you on stage. If you want a copy let me know, manley.m1@gmail.com


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