Thursday, June 30, 2011

U2 360° in Miami

Last night Shannon and I attended the U2 show at Dolphins Stadium. We'd originally bought tickets 2 1/2 years ago for the original date in July 2010 which had to be cancelled when frontman Bono injured his back. As he noted last night -- some of us in attendance were two years younger when we bought our tickets, and in our case, had two less kids. Well, I'm glad we held onto our tickets all this time. It was worth it, despite the ordeal that attending an event with 70,000 of your closest friends entails. Suffice to say we didn't get home til 2am.

The most striking thing about this tour is the massive stage set-up dubbed "The Claw". It's design was inspired by the Theme Building at LAX.

It's a clever concept because it allows the typical apparatus of stadium shows (sound gear, lighting, video screens) to be suspended in the air above the stage thus affording unobstructed views from any vantage point. Band members have said that when they're on the stage the giant edifice above and around them is virtually invisible. The sheer geography of the thing is quite amazing. It evoked for me the image of the mother ship from Close Encounters. One almost expected the thing to lift off. Last night they played to this imagery by taking the stage to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" -- Ground control to Major Tom/Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. The show also features a message from space from Commander Mark Kelly of the International Space Station which introduces "Beautiful Day".

Shannon -- who's actually the biggest U2 fan at our house and I told her she should write her own review -- hit the nail on the head when she said during the ride home that the show was less about music and setlists than it was about the total experience. Once U2 took the stage it was like getting on a train with Bono as the conductor. You just sit back and enjoy the ride. All that's been said about this band's ability to make a stadium seem intimate is true. One can see the huge amount of planning that goes into a U2 stadium show, while still leaving room for Bono's spontaneity and eagerness to take chances on stage. For more on that see the article I linked to a while back: Mega-church Services: Like Going to a U2 Concert?

As one would expect the audience was very diverse. In our section there were parents with children, folks old enough to be grandparents -- and everything in between. The Spanish-speaking contingent was in the majority and Bono played to that throughout the evening. Indeed Miami is the crossroads of North and South America and the Caribbean. I'm sure most of the 70,000+ came to experience a great rock and roll show, have fun, and maybe take home some inspiration. If so, they weren't disappointed. For those with ears to hear there was a greater message embedded in the pop star atmospherics and the calls for peace, love and understanding. It came in the form of visual symbolism that was impossible to miss, and lyrics like these.

Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world

In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You were acting like it was the end of the world

I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You said you'd wait till the end of the world. . .

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Oh my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for. . .

It would be nice to think that the throngs leaving Dolphin Stadium last night will reflect on that message when the euphoria of spending two hours with the biggest band in the world wears off.

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