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.

 

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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.

Best songs of i+e?

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Now that fans in the U.S. and Canada have seen the show, it’s a good time to ask about what are the best songs from their new album? With every tour, the band plays all of their new songs and sometimes it takes a little while to figure out which ones can compete for the title. In my humble opinion the best songs usually stand the test of time—the songs they perform at every tour.

A cursory review of their set lists shows that there are a several songs that they perform at nearly every event.

The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)

Cedarwood Road

Iris (Hold Me Close)

Song For Someone

Raised by Wolves

Every Breaking Wave

When I first entered the SAP Center, I noticed the enormous video screen and immediately knew that they were going to do something special with it. Obviously, they would have images displayed throughout the show, but I also sensed they were going to do something else. It did have more than one purpose; it was also an elevated stage.

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After a few songs Bono walks towards a ladder below the screen and says, “Come with me. Come with me to Cedarwood Road. A street I was supposed to grow up on.” As Bono ascends a ladder into it, images began to slide across the screen of a stylized block in Dublin. He is actually in the screen simulating walking down the block. Then Edge smashes into the song with his guitar and the street suddenly becomes more threatening as a violent wind and rain begins to blow (I recorded the whole song with my iPhone 5S and filed it in the Media section).

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I imagine that when they originally conceived the stage design, a performance like Cedarwood Road was what they had in mind.

The very first song that hit me from the new album was Song For Someone. There was something so melancholic about it but yet it was also very hopeful. I just love the way that Bono belts out the chorus like he’s yearning for something that he might never get, but he still has hope. I knew this song would sound great live and in the rare instance where my music instincts were right, it was amazing. It’s a very beautiful piece and I could tell that Bono loved singing it. It’s my favorite song on the album.

Technically, Invisible is not from their new album but it is the first time they’ve taken it on the road. There times when video enhancement can take a performance to a new level. This was one of those times. With the entire video screen emitting yellow with jagged black lines simulating and oscilloscope, the band launched into the song into the song.

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During the chorus the black lines with thicken to expose each band member alternately facing a side of the arena. As the song progressed the holes would close and then open again at the chorus to reveal that each had pivoted around to face the opposite side. Absolutely brilliant.

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It’s so amazing how they can continue to set the bar on a rock show. It can’t just be a band on stage anymore. There has to be spectacle. It has to be an attack on the senses. If they do their job, you leave the arena with ears ringing, energy spent and both intoxicated and restless.

That’s a U2 show.

Eight nights, eight shows, U2 bites into the Big Apple

It’s been over three weeks since the band ended its North American Tour culminating in an eight-show stay at Madison Square Garden. Our best-loved lads from Dublin are now taking a well-deserved rest before embarking on the next leg of their tour.

New York being New York, the shows saw performances with Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen. The former got on the e-stage by displaying a sign that read singer with a broken finger.

Jimmy Fallon at MSG

Fallon also got to perform a piece of “Desire” with the band and he looked like a kid at Disneyland. It doesn’t really matter if you are a famous television-star or just an average Joe who is a fan; singing with U2 at a live concert is beyond awesome.

Afterwards, Fallon thanked Bono and said, “It’s not easy being you. Thank you guys so much. You guys are the greatest. How great is tonight?! This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in the history of live concerts! I brought a few friends of mine. If it’s alright, I’d like to introduce them to you. The Roots, ladies and gentlemen!”

The Roots then joined the band in performing “Angel of Harlem”. I must admit, Fallon’s band can groove. They brought a little funk to the soulful tune. Bono, ever the generous performer, sang along with Larry and I almost forgot how much I loved this song.

On the fifth show, Lady Gaga stepped onto the stage wearing nothing but underwear and a pair of high-heeled shoes to sing a duet of “Ordinary Love” with Bono. The lady knocked it out of the park. I knew she could sing, but I didn’t know she was that good. As my dad would have said, she’s got some pipes.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: (Exclusive Coverage) Lady Gaga and Bono perform

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 26: (Exclusive Coverage) Lady Gaga and Bono perform “Ordinary Love” onstage during U2’s “iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE” tour at Madison Square Garden on July 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

This is such a powerful song and we’ve all heard Bono sing it. But sometimes it takes another artist with a voice as mighty his to realize how amazing it can be. The fact that it was performed live is truly astonishing.

I love the fact that she performed with them. It was an odd pairing but quite wonderful and shows that music truly transcends boundaries. That’s also what makes it so wonderful, that even today it can still surprise you.

On the final night, the band invited Bruce Springsteen to the stage.  This was New York, of course.  They played “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and there was no way better to end this leg of the tour with two rock legends, sharing the platform, and reminding everyone that music still matters.  Music has always mattered and always will matter.

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The countdown now begins to the European leg of the tour.  The band will be rested and ready to give fans and music-lovers alike another incredible experience to add to memory.  I’m so envious.

U2 takes Manhattan

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Our four favorite chaps from Dublin began their eight–that’s right eight–show stop in Madison Square Garden this past weekend (July 18th & 19th).  The shows are sold out by the way, but there are still ways to gets tickets.

With one foot firmly planted in the past, the band performed October and Gloria with all the verve and energy of a punk band just starting out.

U2 [2015.07.18] Madison Square Garden - On stage

Bono said to the crowd, “When we first played a club called The Ritz in this great city, about a century ago, we thought ourselves a punk band…and you know what?  In all the ways that matter, we still do.  Still getting into trouble for doing things different.  A band of equals…with an audience of equals…an audience of betters.”

He’s right.  They’re still putting the music first and still themselves out there.  It’s only out there where they find out if the music is any good or not.  Fortunately for us, it always is.  By the end of the night, the crowd is hanging from the rafters.

After all these years, their performances still kick me in the chest not matter where I am in the arena.  Yes, I’m a fan, but it’s more than that.  They rock better than any other band I know.

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The band ended the show with a declaration from its front man, “To answer the question why this band is refusing to give it a rest, we offer you this song.”  With that, they closed the night with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

I hope they never do.