Saturday, October 3, 2009

U2: What a Beautiful Night

Not an avid U2 fan, I had my doubts going into the show. Would I enjoy the performance of a band with which I was not familiar? Would I recognize any of the songs? What exactly did a 360° tour entail? Bono and U2 eliminated all these doubts with an incredible performance that gave tangible evidence to their reputation of a Hall-of-Fame group.

As U2 made its entrance, the crowd stood to its feet, welcoming the band in its first visit to Charlottesville. The stage was quite the scene. Walking into Scott Stadium, I was taken aback by the monstrous “Claw” (see picture below). I surely thought that this Transformers-like structure would obstruct our view of the stage and the band. A large circular megatron was the centerpiece of this massive set-up, and as I soon discovered, it gave meaning behind the naming of the “360°” tour.

No matter where you were sitting in the stadium, you felt the band was performing right in front of you. The screen flashed shots of the band from all angles throughout the performance. At one point, the megatron extended into a beehive-like shape where colors filled every corner of the stadium (see pictures below).

Aside from the visual aspects, I was impressed by the band’s vocals and instrumentals. U2 is an example of the typical rock band. The male-dominated group consisted of Bono as the lead singer and guitarist, The Edge as guitarist and keyboardist, Adam Mullen as the bassist, and Larry Mullen as the drummer. I noticed that they held their guitars the “cool” way; they had longer straps, and their guitars were positioned lower on their bodies. Male bonding was evident through the interactions of the band members. They rocked out with each other for every song, and it seemed as though they were just a group of friends doing what they love best. Though Bono is seen as the leading group member, there was a sense of mutual respect among all the members. This was shown during a humbling moment towards the end of the concert when Bono thanked his bandmates for “letting me be in your band.”

Though I couldn’t name most of the set list, I did recognize more songs than I had originally thought, including “Beautiful Day” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I could definitely tell I wasn’t alone in my unfamiliarity with a majority of the set list. I overheard an older gentleman comment, “ Were these kids even alive when these songs came out?” I noticed, however, that whenever a song that I knew came on, the crowd was in full gear with both college-aged and older fans swaying and singing along. This may be an instance of crossing over. There were certain songs that have seemed to more readily cross over from the rock charts to the pop charts, such as “Stuck in a Moment,” and consequently reached across a wider range of demographics.

Another major aspect of the show was its political messages. Bono and U2 have been known for their active involvement in addressing issues of poverty and social injustice. During their song “Walk On,” images of Burma’s opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi were shown on the screen and members of Amnesty International marched onto the stage (see pictures below). There was a very strong sense of purpose behind their music by the way in which they use their songs as a means of voicing the world’s injustices and advocating human rights.

From the mesmerizing visual effects to the goosebump-inducing vocals and instrumentals, U2 performed a spectacular show. Whether you were a diehard fan or not, when the show came to an end, you just wanted more. And thankfully, U2 responded to the crowd’s call for an encore through the illumination of the dark Stadium by the thousands of cell phones (see picture below). A fitting end to a beautiful night.

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