U2 lights up the City of Light

U2 in Paris

Our boys returned as promised and brought with them a little something extra to an audience yearning for an escape. It is amazing how a good show can make you forget about all of the tribulations in your life for a little while. That was evident on fans’ faces as soon as the band took the stage. For a city that was marred by tragedy and paralyzed with fear only weeks before, this was still a rock show and it was treated like one.

What I find admirable is the fact that they always pay homage to the city that they are performing in. There was a certain gravitas to this show and they definitely connected with the audience when Bono declared, “We are all Parisians tonight”. Having grown up in Dublin during the British Occupation, they were all too familiar with acts of terror and violence. He was not simply blowing smoke when he offered his commiseration.

However, they knew their responsibilities well and the reason that they were there was to lift house to the rafters. The bar is always set high—sometimes impossibly so—and they always clear it. Given the temperament of Paris at the time, the bar must have been on the moon. Yet, our intrepid Irishmen confronted this challenge like seasoned athletes and played like pros. It never ceases to amaze me that after all of this time, they never, ever phone it in.

For me, U2 show is always about uplift. Their sets are arranged to start at the ground level and slowly climb over the course of two hours. The whole idea is elevation—and you see what I did there—to ascend the entire crowd into the stratosphere. It should be easy, right? You’ve got fans who paid to see your show, so they’re gonna like it no matter what, right? Wrong. I’ve been to shows where it seemed like the crowd all took Sominex. Even worse, it looked the band didn’t even notice.

The jeopardy was high because taking a too-serious tone would probably bum everyone out. But, being too happy can seem disrespectful. It’s less about taking the middle road and more a high-wire act, which is where our boys go to work.

In their favor it did seem like the crowd needed to know everything was going to be all right and getting their wish. It’s strange to think that something as simple as a concert can do that given the depth of adversity that Paris was suffering. I’m guessing it isn’t that simple. When Bono exclaims the French motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” (liberty, equality, fraternity) he knows that those words speak to the core values of all its citizens, especially now.

During City of Blinding Lights, he brought this French kid on the stage. I like it when Bono brings someone on the stage with him. I never know what they’re going to do. Some are nervous and stand around waiting for direction from him. Some take to the spotlight like a fish to water. But all of them are happy and I can see myself on the stage alongside him. When he gave that kid his sunglasses and sport coat you would have thought the kid was part of the band.  There was nothing but attitude and swagger in the way he performed with the B-Man.

At the end of the night, Bono said that the band heard that Eagles of Death Metal lost their stage, so they lent them theirs.  EoDM hugged their gracious benefactors and then rocked out like a troop on a mission.

U2 could have easily kept the spotlight on themselves and share some of their own tragedies with the crowd.  Instead, they chose to share it another band who desperately needed it.

Class act all the way.

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U2 Live from Paris premieres Monday (12-7)

U2 Live in Paris 2015

Just a quick reminder that this Monday, December 7th will be returning to Paris to perform their last two shows from Innocence + Experience Tour 2015.

The concerts will be held at Accorhotels Arena in Bercy.  Their final show will be airing live on HBO, so set your DVRs.  Even if you’re watching it live, you will want to see it again and again.  I sure will.

There is no doubt that the band has something special planned for these night.  Their shows are already spectacular.  And in light of recent events, I’m sure they will use the time to bring everyone at the arena, and the rest of us watching at home, just a little bit closer.

It’s gonna be awesome.

U2 announce dates for Paris shows

U2 I+E 2015

The band announced the dates for their final Paris shows.  Originally scheduled for November 14th and 15th, the band was forced to cancel their shows due to the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13th.  Many venues were also cancelled as the officials took all necessary security measures to keep the public safe.  Even though they pledged to return, they could not provide a date due to the fact much of the situation was out of their control.

Bono expressed his dismay and anger on the radio saying it was the first direct hit on music that we’ve had on this so-called was on terror.

With the circumstances changing daily, it was nearly impossible for them to know when they could return.  However, they are back and ready to rock.

This is very welcome news as the band has proven again their commitment to its fans, Paris and music itself that they stand with all of us who truly believe that love is stronger than hate.  As fans, I know we can all agree that they have always put the emphasis on the music and us.

U2, Live Nations and HBO all deserve hearty congratulations for rescheduling such a large event so quickly, in what I am sure must be a very complicated and very difficult situation.  So set you DVRs for December 6th and 7th because our favorite lads from Ireland are going to elevate the City of Light.  These shows will takes on special meaning, as they will prove that nothing creates solidarity like music.

Hats off to Paris as well.  I hope these are two more giant steps towards normalcy.

#strongerthanfear

U2 pays its respect to terror victims

U2 in Paris 2015

U2 laid flowers and a memorial for the slain victims of Friday’s terror attacks.  They looked somber as the gazed at the collection of flowers, candles and signs set out near the site of tragic events.

There is still no word on when the tour will resume or when the Paris shows will be rescheduled.  A state of emergency has been declared by President Francois Hollande and many events in around Paris have been cancelled.

The band has promised that they will return but did not offer a time due to the ongoing situation.  Bono expressed their determination to return for their music fans during a radio interview with Dave Fanning of RTE 2fm.  However, their return was not up to him or the band but with French officials.

I am hoping to provide more developments as they occur.

Paris shows cancelled (11-14 & 11-15)

Pray for Paris

The band announced that their shows in Paris tonight and tomorrow night are cancelled due to the terror attacks yesterday.  There is no word yet if the shows will be postponed or cancelled altogether.  In addition, due to the heightened security status around Europe, there is a possibility that this may affect other venues around the region.

Here on this side of the Atlantic we are no strangers to these types of events.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this very difficult time.

Hopefully, in the coming days there will be more information from the band.  Obviously there are greater concerns right now and I will try to keep up with the latest announcements.

U2 on HBO (Saturday, 11-14-15)

U2 i+e on HBO

Hey folks,

Just a friendly reminder (as if you don’t already know) that our U2 will be performing live from Paris for their Innocence + Experience Tour 2015.  For those who have not seen it, this will be a night of great television.  Understandably, tickets for their shows were out of reach for many as their shows sold out so quickly.

This will be your chance to see a show in its entirety and will be airing this Saturday on HBO.  I for one will be both watching and recording the show because I plan on watching it many times.  I just wish I had a bigger television (40″ seemed so back in ’09).  Hopefully, Santa will be good to this little U2 fan and give him the gift the keeps on giving– a 55″ television.  Anything bigger might not fit in my place.

 

Throwback Thursday (part III)

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As great as the first show was—and it was excellent—there was a little something missing. The crowd seemed a little subdued throughout the night and Bono even noted it during the second show. He attributed it to June Gloom, a weather pattern in Southern California marked by cool temperatures and overcast skies that may have affected their moods.

But the second show was totally different night. From the beginning the audience was rowdy but well behaved. The weather was warmer and perhaps that might have raised their spirits. I say might because I have been to shows where it was raining that didn’t dampen the feeling at all. Whatever the reason, there was an elevation (and you see what I just did there) in the energy of masses.

We also got a prime spot on the rail at about the four o’clock position. I’ve chosen this position a few times during Vertigo and found that Bono tended to linger in this area.   My always friends let me decide where to stand (I’m the show veteran) and I’ve always taken that responsibility seriously. Fortunately, I’ve made the right choices over the years and we’ve never been to a bad show.

Here’s a shot of the cameramen getting into their rigs before the main event.

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By the time the band took the stage my little Canon was working overtime.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I wished I had spent more money on a better camera.  What I quickly realized was with the camera set of Automatic, the flashing lights, the smoke, even Bono and company moving around on stage was a little too much for it.  I took hundreds of shots but far less than that were salvageable.  That was a very important lesson to learn.  Don’t be so freakin’ cheap.

Here’s the band a few songs into to the show.

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I did manage to get a few good shots.  Here’s one of Bono singing to the International Space Station.

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He was right in front of us and I was snapping away like sports photographer.  You can even see Adam and Larry in the background.

This was a great night and I was lucky enough to catch the B-man doing his thing.

I hope you like these images and I welcome your comments.

Throwback Thursday (part II)

The second show of U2 360° in Anaheim was probably one of the best shows that I have ever seen. I saw four shows during 360: one in Dallas (’09), one in Oakland (’11) and two in Anaheim (‘11). All of them were great, but the 2nd show in Anaheim was awesome.

I had general admission tickets and we got there around nine-thirty in the morning on both days to make sure we would get a good spot on the field.

The first night we were inside the runway and it was crowded. I’m pretty sure they had a limit but had I known how crowded it would get, I would have secured a place on the rail instead.

But I did get a few good pictures that night. Here’s one of screen.

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One of the most memorable parts of the show was during “Beautiful Day” when NASA astronaut Mark Kelly aboard the International Space Station recited the bridge to song. His image was displayed on the giant oval screen and he was tossing out little paper words that read, “It was a Beautiful Day” that literally floated right in front of him. You cold tell he was speaking into a video camera but the as he looked down on the crowd. It was amazing. I was so mesmerized that I forgot to take any pictures. But it is something I will never forget.

Only a band like U2 could pull off something like that maybe, only they could pull it off.

Once I snapped out of my stupor I was able to get a few good shots of Adam bring a little soul to the show.

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I like this shot of the screen, especially with Bono mugging while the others a looking quite serious.

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I like this shot of the screen, especially with Bono mugging while the others a looking quite serious.  It’s cool and gonzo at the same time.

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And finally our favorite front-man being himself.

Although it was cramped, I managed to take a few good pictures with my $79 Canon Powershot.  I realized that night that I should have spent more money and bought a more powerful point-and-shoot camera, even though I was on a very limited budget.

It was still a good night and quite memorable.

Throwback Thursday

There’s a term that’s probably been around for a while but I’ve only learned about it recently. I’ve seen it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. From what I understand, it’s a term that is used to hark back to another period in time.

For my first Throwback Thursday post, I would like to ask if anyone remembers this bad boy?
The Claw in Anaheim

Known by many as The Claw during the band’s last tour, this structure, along with the nearly 360-degree stage was an ostentatious and architectural marvel. This structure was brash, rococo and most of loud. I was fortunate enough to see four shows during their nearly three-year run and smart enough to bring a small digital camera.

The Claw

The Claw

With our favorite Irish quartet charging across Europe like a rock ‘n’ roll stampede for Innocence + Experience, one could see the influences that the 360 Tour had on the current tour. I’m not going take anything away from i+e because it is an awesome show and that was because 360 set the bar so high.

In the upcoming Thursdays, I’d like to post more images that I took from the second show at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California in 2011.

I hope you enjoy them.