"We chose the name U2 to be ambiguous, to stay away from categorization."
@U2 Staff Share Top I+E Moments (So Far)
August 28, 2015
Note to those who haven’t seen the I+E show and want to be surprised: Spoilers galore throughout this story.
The Dennis Sheehan tributes. The onstage fan pow-wow. The falling literature. The light bulb. The SCREENS. Adam and his T-shirts. Edge and his mind-blowing guitar(s). Larry and his single snare drum. “Gloria.” Bono and Bruce (but not Bono and Alyssa).
Thank you, U2, for all that was the first leg of the Innocence + Experience tour.
Before the boys head to Europe for I+E Part 2, members of the @U2 staff, their pockets stuffed with Psalms, share their personal highlights from the North American leg of the tour:
My favorite memory has to be the stage. Not only did it allow incredible videos to be integrated into the show, but also allowed unprecedented access to the band by their fans. I did GA (twice) for the first time on this tour because there was no need to queue beforehand to get a good spot along the rail. I will never forget seeing Bono’s conviction during his performance of EBW and Larry’s powerful smash of his drum at the end of RBW. I am not sure I could ever do seats again!
— Beth Austin
My favorite moment of the I+E tour so far is Bono reminiscing about Live Aid during U2’s performance of “Bad” on July 11 at the TD Garden in Boston. It was unexpected, because Bono has an aversion to nostalgia, but when U2 started to play “Bad,” I began to think about how far the band had come since that day. After the first chorus, Bono signaled to the band, they began to play more softly, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up …
“So, 30 years ago today …”
Bono described sending out a “message of love” to Lou Reed, who told him later that he was feeling down while watching Live Aid on TV and that hearing the Wembley crowd sing the “do’s” of “Wild Side” lifted his spirits. Bono led the crowd at the TD Garden in a round of “do’s” just as he had 30 years (minus two days) before. I rejoiced in the re-creation of that historical moment while we sent another message of love to Lou.
It was Bono at his best, in Boston as in London, leading the band and audience on an unexpected journey through the heart.
— John Cropp
My U2 Innocence + Experience adventure started off full of stress — in the hunt for an elusive GA ticket for a New York City show. I realized that finding a GA ticket was like winning the lotto, so I decided the day before I flew out from Dublin to just go for it and get whatever ticket was available. Better to be there in a bad seat than not at all! As it turned out, the seat I had was perfect (I really don’t think there’s a bad seat for this tour), definitely a highlight for me seeing U2 in arenas again. The best moment for me was Bono saying, “This is a song we don’t play enough; are we ready to try and figure this out?” When the opening chords of “Gloria” started, I can’t explain how happy I was, and I’m not ashamed to say there were tears of joy! I thought “Raised By Wolves” was very powerful too, particularly the images on screen, which really brought home the injustice of what happened on that day 40 years ago. Can’t wait to do it all again in October!
— Carol Foster
I never thought I would feel fear at a U2 show, but I did. On night two in Toronto, I was lucky to score the closest front-row seats you can get by the B-stage, with a head-on view of everything. I watched while Bono marched his way down as Raised By Wolves came to an end. But this wasn't good ol’ jubilant, preacher Bono. Something was different: his movement, his face clearly filled with frightening raw rage and emotion.
That’s when I got scared — by the irrational but very real thought of Bono’s anger being so intense, he would stop the show right there and scold me like a child in front of 20,000 people if I kept reaching for the phone in my pocket.
I surrendered my hands in the air, and within a minute he had been comforted enough to look my way, hurl a book at my face, and leap into the air as the band ripped into the greatest rock song ever written. If I had the phone, I would’ve missed it all. So put the phones away and live in the moment!
— Jessica Guadiana
It was June 28. The third show at Chicago’s United Center. There had been rumors that “Two Hearts Beat As One” might be played because it was sound-checked. After “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” ended, Bono shouted, “This is the first time we’ve played this song in about 20 years,” so we thought that was it, but then we heard the opening notes of “Gloria.” To say that the crowd went wild was an understatement. Tucked in at the front of the main stage in the Red Zone, I personally lost my mind, screaming and jumping along with everyone else. Bono was convulsing with energy. We didn’t care that the accuracy of his announcement was off by about 10 years (they really played it last in 2005) — we were just in the moment. In the glorious moment.
— Tassoula E. Kokkoris
Transformation within the Innocence + Experience tour has been my favorite “moment.” The first-leg tour structure offered only four main opportunities to rotate songs to avoid a stale set list. The production’s mandate for fresh visuals, however, blended with the band’s commission of surrender, encouraged an open mind, heart and spirit. By the time of the show’s benediction, many felt that transformation — that blessing — because for the past two hours the production spoke to the audience in ways that were profound and personal.
I entered Rogers Arena in Vancouver on May 14 with a heavy heart and broken spirit. Over the eight shows I saw and the two dozen or so I followed live online, a transformational healing began. When I left Madison Square Garden on July 31, I knew that my spirit had been renewed and my heart was a whole lot lighter. This hasn’t happened on any other tour for me. Everything about this tour is special, and each night there have been countless serendipitous moments for many. I can’t wait to see how it continues to transform in Europe on the second leg.
— Sherry Lawrence
The beginning finishes me every time. Bono’s blondish head appears and he struts/slinks/swaggers down the catwalk in his black boots, at the tail end of “Power To The People.” Then the “wo-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh”s of “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” begin and he beckons everyone to join in, the relentless chorus the most beautiful-glorious-welcoming sound I’ve ever heard. Just like a first taste, it’s the sweet start of unending joy and exhilaration. OK, I know it has to end in about two hours, but that moment feels like infinity.
— Karen Lindell
One word. Two syllables. That was all it took to make me a complete basket case during U2’s eight-night residency at Madison Square Garden. I wasn’t prepared for the full impact that hearing “Iris” live would have on me. But there I was, hot tears streaming down my face as Bono sang for the mother he never got to know more about. A woman whose sudden passing and everlasting memory became the inspiration for what I believe was the true shining star not just on the Songs Of Innocence album, but during the entire show.
I think “Iris” translates so well live is because we all see ourselves in Bono. We’ve loved and lost, and often can’t find the words to sum up our grieving. Performing this song every night, Bono reopened a wound that wasn’t fully stitched up after all these years. To all of us in the crowd, he let us in to his world with his armor down. And we gave him the greatest gift of all — we embraced him as not only the icon singing, but also as the young man who was aimlessly looking at the sky for that star named Iris.
— Jill Marino
Phoenix. May 22. “In God's Country.” Not only my favorite moment of this tour, but maybe also my favorite moment of any U2 show I've seen. Bono stops “Sweetest Thing” and says a fan asked him to play “In God's Country.” He hunts for the fan and finally brings him on stage, and this guy goes absolutely bananas up there. He's jumping, he's running, he's hugging the band — except Larry, who hysterically holds up his drumsticks in the shape of a cross to keep him away.
Bono finally gets the guy to exercise enough self-control so they can start the song, but then he goes all loose cannon around the e-stage while playing with the band. When the song ends, the guy kneels down and kisses the band's hands — and even gets to kiss Larry on the arm. Bono has to shoo him off the stage, even!
You know how fans usually try to hold their sh** together and stay cool when they get on stage with U2? Forget that. This guy let it all hang out and had the time of his life up there. Amen, brother.
— Matt McGee
I’ve been going to U2 concerts since the mid-1980s and I’ve never heard them play “Bad” like they did in Vancouver on May 15. I was in GA with @U2 staffers experiencing the all-encompassing show when I learned they would play “Bad,” a song that has deep personal meaning to me.
Edge played those unmistakable opening chords. The crowd roared. Bono walked from the main stage down the catwalk, asking, “Anyone free from addiction tonight? Anyone want to be free from addiction tonight? Draw something. Tell someone. Read something. You’re not alone!"
I moved to the e-stage, my eyes and ears fixed on Bono and his voice. I didn’t move. Everyone and everything around me went dark. All I saw was Bono, right in front of me, drawing me in. I heard the words and music differently, and that’s what Bono intended that night. Beauty, love and a healing spirit filled the arena. The house was bathed in bright white light as the black and blue lights faded at the end of the song. Bono clutched his hands over his chest, then opened them up, whispering, “Let it go. Let it go.” I cried. I was released.
— Becky Myers
My poor 16-year-old boy. I was extremely excited that my family was snuggled up to the e-stage at Boston 3, but he had no idea what was coming. Neither did I. U2 cruised through their first set of four songs and I tweeted “OMG Boston, it’s all true!” The band and audience were each on fire. The spirit, the intensity, the volume of the crowd was unmatched.
And then it came. “Iris. Iris.” Bono crescendoed, “Hold me close! Hold me close and don’t let me go!”
I'm sure I nearly scared my teen son to death. Standing right behind him, I reached around, attacking him with a great big bear hug. A wave of emotion climaxed in a gush of tears. I really didn’t expect that. The themes of both pain and celebration within the family on the I+E tour are overwhelming at times.
So, when Bono called out to his mother, “Don’t let me go,” I hung on to my boy for dear life. And the best part of the show came next — he grabbed on and held tight in return. I don't think he'll forget that. I know I won't.
— Tim Neufeld
(c) @U2, 2015