If you haven't experienced U2 live, and you have some small modicum of interest in U2, I strongly suggest you go see them live. Such as, for example, RIGHT NOW on their Vertigo Tour (1st leg North America is Spring 2005, 3rd leg North America is Fall 2005)! It's worth it. You don't have to believe me, you just have to go!
Unlike the madness that was my Elevation Tour experience, my first Vertigo tour show was much more simple. Instead of 26 people, it was 2 people. Instead of hours and hours to Las Vegas, it was mere minutes and minutes to the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. Instead of stuffed into the backseat of a semi-random car in long convoy of cars to Vegas, it was sitting in a very familiar car in the front passenger seat navigating according to sigalert and google maps.
Let me get this out of the way first: my experience here was not nearly as amazing as Elevation was. U2 puts on a damned good show, but Los Angeles crowds suck and the energy was just very different as a result. Crowds that should have been off their feet, the arena alternating with the beautiful sound of U2 and the sound of the crowd singing and cheering... none of that here in Anaheim. We're about seven rows back from the outside of the ellipse on the floor, but somehow the whole area is crowded with big tall guys. I have a hard enough time seeing between shoulders and heads, Sophia was even worse off for much of the show! =( Two twits getting into a fight right behind us before the show started didn't help things either. >_<
We eventually push our way to the 3rd row as people get tired of standing, and the big tall people shift around so we can see better. 3rd row! SWEET!
Love And Peace: ahhhhhhhhhh... the strains of Bono's voice fill your ears. It doesn't matter what the first song is, to hear U2 is good.
Sunday Bloody Sunday: Bono's still on the walkway of the ellipse-- those like us who were on the floor got some amazing close-up time. SBS is simply amazing live.
Bullet The Blue Sky: not as much punch as Sunday Bloody Sunday, but that's ok. The presenation of the UN Human Rights Declaration was very striking with the voices and faces used.
Running To Stand Still: the string lights came down for this one, and the "man" animation came out. Cool! The shift from high gear to low gear, the melodies just go right.
I Still Havenít Found What Iím Looking For: wow, where's the new stuff? The old stuff is still amazing. We're throughly enjoying ourselves!
New Yearís Day: shift back into higher energy-- U2 hasn't lost a beat. Hard to tell from the crowd, though-- compared to Vegas or San Francisco they were dead.
Miracle Drug: the first of the new stuff. It sounds much better live than it does on the album, but compared to the old stuff, it still doesn't seem as strong.
Sometimes You Canít Make It On Your Own: perhaps the best on their latest album, the instruments and tempo are just right. Feel the tug on your emotions as you listen to this song?
Beautiful Day: I can't get enough of this song. It's sad. Not much in the way of visuals for Beautiful Day, but almost as good as I remembered it from Vegas. Unfortunately, it also makes SYCMIOYO seem a little weak compared to the awesome sound of Beautiful Day.
Pride In the Name of Love: Mmmmmmmm. *grins* The presentation of "Africa" starting here and lasting through til "One" leaves a lasting impression. The message portrayed by the visuals is unforgettable.
Where the Streets Have No Name: the crowd should have been off their feet for this song. They weren't. That sucked. It's such a good song, how could you not be on your feet for it?!?!
One: again, simply beautiful. *sigh* The "one" campaign was nicely beaten into us at the same time, too.
Zoo Station: this one was a surprise to me. As the lead-off song from Achtung Baby, I hear it fairly often, and I like it. Live it's surprisingly good, holds up quite well even with the more-famous stuff.
The Fly: (where's the new stuff again?) The visuals are amazingly effective. The flashing words and everything, it was done very well.
Elevation: crowd, heeeelllllooooo? In Vegas, Pearl and everyone else was off their feet. Pearl was almost flying out of the bleachers. In Anaheim? Sophia and I are rocking out to the music. (Sophia's probably wondering why I'm about to go flying around with excitement... *grins*) Everyone else? Uh...
Mysterious Ways: More visual work-- a dancing female stick figure in the background. Very cool. One of my favorite songs off Achtung Baby, so that helped. =) Tiffany was a distraction, although she was (seemed?) clearly a plant in the crowd from her dancing abilities.
City of Blinding Lights: different lightwork this time-- litterally, blinding lights. CoBL is better than I expected live, but it still isn't enough to get CoB stuck in my head like Elevation or Mysterous Ways. Falling confetti helped, but not much.
Vertigo: the crowd finally wakes up. Has by far the biggest crowd reaction of any song so far, which is both good and bad. Good in that the crowd proves it has energy. Bad in that the crowd has taken this long to wake up, and for this song, of all songs? Not for something truly amazing like Beautiful Day or Sunday Bloody Sunday? (I hate to berate people for being trendy, but c'mon, show me some dignity here!)
All Because of You: sounds better live than on the album, but seems a little simple for U2. Guitar riffs form a little too much of this song, it lacks the richness I expected.
í40í: passable. Good way to end a show and lead into an encore... but what's this... the end, as the crowd should be chanting "hoooow llloooonnnngggg" then switching into full volume for the encore... it's done well, but ultimately feels disappointing.
And the encore, or lack thereof. Supposedly All Because Of You and '40' were the encore, but U2's short 30 second disappearance from the stage didn't make it feel like one, and the lights being dark but a single floodlight over the drumset left us wondering if we could get an encore after '40'.
Instead, Los Angeles crowds being lame and all, after about 30 seconds, the volume dies down, the chant of "U... 2!!!" never materializes, and people start leaving! What the hell? Sophia and I redouble our efforts, but not enough people are trying... very disappointing.
Conclusions... U2 is awesome live. Los Angeles crowds suck. Yes, I crave more U2. *grins*
Side notes: U2's management of the initial stages of Vertigo Tour seems a little chaotic. The instructions on how to get into the ellipse aren't clearly posted until a few hours before the Anaheim show, and it turns out we missed out on being able to take advantage of my u2.com membership! =( Furthermore, tickets for 3rd leg shows have been pretty disorganized, as U2 keeps adding shows-- for example, the Oakland, California (November 8/9) shows were just added, potentially screwing a lot of presale access holders because of the late addition. Mind you, we're not complaining about more U2, but knowing if we'd have shows local to us would have been nice!