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Part of the strength of U2 is that we know that as individuals we don't amount to very much, but collectively we can actually make a difference. -- Adam

U2 Lists: 10 Things I'd Tell Bono About U2 360


[Ed. note: This is the 14th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]

U2 ListsIt's been a couple weeks since I've seen this video, but I'm still thinking about it. It's the video where Bono and a U2 fan carry on a one-on-one conversation about the 360 tour as if there was no one else in the room vying for their attention.

Who among us wouldn't love the chance to have such a conversation?

In this edition of U2 Lists, I'm going to let my imagination run wild. I'm gonna pretend it's me and Bono, sitting alone in a room somewhere, or maybe on a park bench, with no interruptions. We have all kinds of time to kill. And Bono makes the mistake of asking me what I think of the tour. He wants to hear the good, bad and ugly. No holds barred.

Wanna listen in? Here are the 10 things I'd tell Bono about the U2 360 tour.

"First, the shows that I saw were great. Wait. I should say: You guys were great at all four shows that I saw. The songs sound great, the production is terrific, and I've never heard better sound at any show -- big or small. But the crowd at two of them? Pretty lame. But hold that thought for a bit. Let's talk about the shows now, the crowd later.

"Second, love the guts you showed by starting so many shows with 3-4 songs off the new album. Good on you for making it clear from the get-go that this wasn't gonna be a Greatest Hits show. But the downside, frankly Bono, is that you were playing songs that a lot of the crowd didn't know. Listen, if it were just me? Hell, you could play all of No Line On The Horizon in sequence to start the show and I'd be thrilled. But that would kill a stadium crowd. Better to throw them a bone with some hits early on. Guts and courage are great, but the rhythm of the second NYC show was perfect: two new songs, then two old, then two more new.

"Third, and I don't mean to contradict what I just said, but I can't emphasize this enough: Stick to your guns about the new songs. Some of us started to worry when one or two shows in the middle of the tour only had five songs from the new album. Don't retreat to safety. Don't give in to the folks who just want to hear the Big Hits from the '80s and '90s. Don't bring 'Pride' back. Keep playing the new songs. In fact, play more. 'Fez-Being Born'? A lot of us would kill to hear that live.

"Fourth, though, you have to do something about 'Unknown Caller.' Love this song on the album. Love it in concert ... until it ends. Because it never really does end. It just kinda meanders off and fades away. The song is too strong for that! Edge's guitar solo deserves a better final act! Give it a real and powerful ending, kinda like how you used to end 'Bad' way back in the day -- bam, bam, bam, bam!

"Fifth, tell Willie that we all think he's amazing. Seriously, I saw the Raleigh show on October 3rd and then saw the Vegas show less than three weeks later, and it was a totally different show. You played pretty much the same songs, slightly different order, but the whole show was new -- new videos, new lighting on some songs, new set pieces. Both were great shows, and neither was like the other.

"Sixth, the crowd. As great as you guys are playing, there's something different going on out in the crowd. There's a vibe that I've never felt before at a U2 show. I saw both New York shows and e-mailed some friends afterward to tell them I was having an identity crisis. It was the first time in 25 years of seeing you live that I didn't feel like I belonged in the crowd. I didn't recognize them! I think it's because you're playing stadiums and so many people -- not necessarily fans -- are able to get tickets. I think you have a lot of curious, lookie-loos coming to the shows. These are the folks not singing the new songs, and leaving before the show ends. Everyone around me sat down and folded their arms or legs when you did 'Your Blue Room.'

Crowd during Your Blue Room

Are these the people you want to play to every night? I think this comes with the territory if you're gonna play stadiums in the U.S.

"Seventh, it's not just the crowd. The whole stadium experience is odd this time. The Blackberry advertising -- you gotta cut back on that. If it were up to me, I'd let them advertise all they want outside the stadium - canvass the GA line five times, put their logo on the ticket stubs, whatever. But no ads inside. Think about it: You say "live is where we live," and you invite us into your house, but there's advertising on every wall. You don't have ads on your walls at home, right? Get rid of the ads in the stadium. It changes the entire vibe inside. It's like walking into a commercial, not a U2 concert.

"Eighth, the concessions are also killing the vibe. This is the first U2 tour where I've watched people eating dinner in the middle of the show. Eating dinner! In the middle of a U2 concert! WTF? I remember you being disappointed about being able to smell the popcorn at the Los Angeles PopMart show; you must be smelling a lot more this year! You have concession stands on the stadium floor. You have vendors walking across the floor shouting "Beer! Pretzels!" and whatever. It feels like a Sunday afternoon baseball game, not a U2 concert. And at the Vegas show, I stopped counting after the 20th time one of the vendors walked immediately in front of me -- as in, one foot away -- while I was trying to enjoy the show. It's impossible to get lost in the music with all that selling in my face.

Hanging On"Ninth, some of us need your help. By 'us,' I mean the fans who believe your tours always have a theme/message. We're trying to decipher it, but this one's been a bit of a mystery. I think I have the general concept down -- time, space, heaven on earth, no line on the horizon, soon, the moment of surrender -- but it feels like there's a lot going on that we're not connecting with. I wrote a couple weeks ago that I thought your weak singing (for lack of a better word) during the encore is because you're in character, that you're hanging on to that steering wheel mic like someone who's "holding on to the end of his rope and about to reach his moment of surrender." Am I right? If so, it would sound much better coming from you. If you want us to get it, I think you have to explain it some more. If you don't want to, well ... we'll still enjoy the music.

"Tenth, I can't let you go without talking about next year. I know this is a Live Nation thing, but you're Bono and you can push back at them a lot harder than we can. This thing about selling concert tickets before all the shows are announced really sucks. Don't get me wrong: I'm first in line in the 'count my blessings and be thankful U2 is still touring' camp. So are a ton of other fans. But that doesn't mean Live Nation should take our loyalty for granted. You've got fans in Ireland, the UK, the Boston area, and plenty of other places wondering if they should travel to see some other show, or if their city/country will be one of the 'additional dates and cities to be confirmed.' They're wondering if they should use their U2.com codes for far away shows, or hold on to them for shows that haven't been announced. Some of them don't have a ton of money, but they're spending a ton on airline tickets, hotel rooms, concert tickets, etc., because they don't know if there'll be any shows closer to home. It's not right. Tell Live Nation to be more fair to your fans.

"Alright, I've talked your ear off. Thanks for sitting there and just listening. It feels great to be able to get this off my chest. No one's gonna believe that this happened. It's like that time in 2001 when I saw you and the family at Disneyland and couldn't believe my eyes. My wife and friends were on some rides so they didn't see you, and I decided I had to follow you around and try to get a photo to prove that you were actually there and had walked right in front of me.

"So, ummm, can I get a picture?"

(c) @U2, 2009.