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"I just don't want to go through what I call the Interesting Music Phase. That really means 'We just don't get it.'" — Bono

by Joost Boschhuizen


It was a beautiful day in Amsterdam. I got in line at about 11:30. There already was a line of i think 200 metres. There was an excellent vibe throughout the whole day. Everybody was excited and hoping to get in the first ring in front of the stage. I saw a lot of familiar faces from last time (Elevation in Arnhem). The queing was made very easy by the security. They placed more fences as the line grew thicker.

At about 15:00 there was the Big Rush (the moment when everybody who is sitting stands up and rushes to the front of the que. We had to stand for another hour, but it went by very fast. At 16:00 the doors finally opened. Although security told us not to run we did. After a sprint we finally arrived at our much coveted spot (its amazing how big a stadium is and how it doesn't matter whether you came at 12 or at 15. Eventually you end up next to eachother.

The Arena has a glass roof (wich was closed) and since the sun shined the whole day it was pretty warm inside. I had seen the stage on the internet, but seeing it "live" was pretty impressive. There were huge black drapes hung all around the stage. I havén't noticed this anywhere else (or maybe I missed it). The benefit was obvious during the show. The lightshow kicked in earlier than usual.
Everybody was sweating because of the roof and the long run to get here, but eventually a shadow was cast over the part where we stood (left of the left "target" about 5 metres from the barriers.) At 18:00 The Kaiser Chiefs came on followed by The Killers. I think they were okay (they got applause after each song), but I can't really judge because the sound was so terrible. The Arena doesn't have a good reputation for the sound (sometimes it is named the fishbowl). I hoped that the sound was better for U2 and gladly it was (although a friend of mine couldn't understand Bono as he spoke).

The Killers ended their set at about 20:00. We had to wait a full hour before U2 went on, but it didn't feel like an hour. There were mexican waves (at some time even 2, 1 in the upper ring and 1 in the lower ring). There were beachballs, balloons etc. Security was handing out wet sponges and treated everybody well. Plus it was fun to watch all the now familliar faces of the crew, because U2.com puts them in the spotlight.

Then the moment was there. At 20:55 Arcade Fire was started and you could tell the crowd knew U2's stage routine, because the response to that was deafening. Then the boys came out and kicked in with Vertigo. The feeling of that is undescribible. Everybody, and I mean everybody was jumping up and down and singing along. Goosebumps allover. From the very first note till the last sounds of the 2nd Vertigo the whole crowd was standing on its feet even the ones who had seated places. I've never seen that before in the Arena.

The setlist was good, very good, but unfortunatley no real surprises. It was fantastic to hear I still haven't found what I'm Looking For and All I want is you (during which Bono pulled a flabbergasted girl onstage). The crowd was amazing. Singing almost every word at a loud voice. Even the newer songs, like Miracle Drug, were sung well by the audience which surprised me because that hasn't been a single yet. Sometimes the crowd were drowning out Bono. I don't know if this happened anywhere else, but Bono took out his ear monitor several times to hear the audience sing. At one point I even saw Adam do this. By the way Adam was in a very good mood the whole evening. Smiles all over the place and he was out on the ramps a lot. When he was at our target he smiled all the time (although I sometimes thought that was because he was uncomfortable)
Larry was his usual self. Not much smiles. He was doing his job. The only one I don't know if he had a good time was Edge. It seemed he didn't enjoy playing this evening (maybe i'm wrong, but this was my impression). He wa sthe one that help the tempo in the show. At the end of ISHFWILF the crowd was singing beautifully on its own. Bono was out on a ramp enjoying the singing, when rather abruptely Edge started All I want is You. You could tell that Bono had wanted the crowd the sing some more. At another point during one of Bono's speeches Edge had enough of the talk and struck one chord somewhat louder as the others as to say to Bono "cut the talking let's play".

Bono was enjoying himself I think. Already during Vertigo and I will follow (together with Electric Co. great opening songs BTW) he was yelling to the crowd (positively) and throwing with water. He was very talkative, but couldn;t always find the right words. He said that the Netherlands always had a special place in the heart of U2, because here they became big for the first time outside the UK. The Dutch embraced them in their early years. He began this speech with a lot of uhm's and eventually saying "I want to say something, but it feels like talking to a girl and knowing she will never believe what you say" after which he laughed.

Special dedications tonight were for Theo van Gogh (a famous ducth filmmaker who was violently killed by a Muslimterrorist), Pim Fortuyn (a Dutch politician who was shot to death by a man who came up for animal rights) and ofcourse the victims of the recent bombings in London.
Anton Corbijn was also honoured (being a long time friend and the main photographer for U2). Bono said he admired him because he made him look tall in photographs. Then Bono led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday for him although his birthday was in May.

Before we knew it there was Vertigo for the second time which unfortunately meant the end of the concert. One more time going out of your head (I don't know if that is an English expression. It is a Dutch) and the concert was over (as so obvious showing on the screen). We had hopes for another encore, because the lights stayed down, but eventually the lights came up and there was a familiar song over the PA. I don't know why but they chose to play Radar Love while the crowd was leaving which was very uplifting, because everybody was singing along to this famous song of the Dutch band the Golden Earring. Instead of sadly leaving the stadium because the show was over evreybody was still singing and dancing.

Higlights for me were:

- The first few songs with the crowd going berserk
- The singing-along, sometimes outdrowning the band
- Coexist
- Bono's speeches
- The visuals (wow that screen generates some light)
- The declaration of human rights

I want to say to everybody who's thinking of going but is not sure: GO!!!!!. You won't regret it for a second. This show lifts you up and makes you feel good. U2 can manage to make you instantly happy and help you forget all your sorrows.


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