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"We wanted to make a record that would actually feel like your life." — Bono, on Pop



by Amanda

It had rained the entire three-hour drive to Charlotte, but the weather did nothing to dampen my anticipation for this show. It would be my first time seeing U2 in my home state, considering the cancellation of the Popmart show that was supposed to take place in Raleigh in 97 (shows in Clemson and Atlanta were quite the consolation, though).
Our seats were in the first level, on Adams side of the stage, 15 rows up, and the view was wonderful. Two large b/w video screens were suspended right above us and provided a close-up view of the band (mostly Bono and Larry, it seemed). The heart was actually smaller than I expected it to be, and I really think more people could have fit inside it safely, but what do I know? I had gotten these gold circle seats knowing that I would have difficulty seeing if I was on the floor (Im 411), but now Im thinking it may be worth a try anyway. I think the best GA spot would probably be outside the heart, right at the point.
Nelly Furtado really impressed me. I had only heard her single and was pleasantly surprised at how rocking her other songs were. Her rhythm section was awesome. The crowd seemed to like her and she mentioned U2 a lot during her 30 minute set.
There was a long delay before U2 finally came out. It seemed after every song on the PA there would be a long pause and everybody would hold their breathFinally, with the house lights still up, the backing sounds of Elevation started and everybody went wild!
The band came around from the side/back of the stage one at a time, Bono last, and they tore into it. It really rocked, and was the perfect opening song. I know some people wanted to hear Beautiful Day first, but this was definitely the one. Beautiful Day was second, and it was clear that Bono was having no trouble with his voice. This had been a concern to me (and many others) in the last few weeks, and I must admit to my own (nervousness?) that he wouldnt be in top form. I had nothing to worry about.
Until the End of the World was great, no big change from how theyve always played it. Bono reached out into the crowd a lot, at one point sort of jumping in (with security holding him, of course). He got back on stage and he and Edge stayed at the point of the heart where they dueled back and forth a bit, Bono playing a bull with his fingers forming horns and Edge the matador with a guitar instead of a red cape.
Then the bass line of New Years Day began and the audience went crazy again. It was as great as any version they have ever played. Bono and Edge were closer to the top of the heart now, both of them singing most of the song into Bonos microphone.
Bono spoke to the crowd then: Thank you for coming out in the rainits been too long. Thank you for giving us a great life The next song was dedicated to Michael Hutchence, a friend we lost along the way It was clear they had been rehearsing Stuck in a Moment a lot since the Irving Plaza show. It sounded very tight and Edges backing vocals were perfect. Staring at the Sun also sounded a lot better than during Popmart.
New York was next, and I believe this was the first time the large mesh screens were used that nightthey were around the perimeter of the heart with spotlights shining on them, allowing for some interesting moves by Bono, who prowled around the heart, striking poses the entire time. Then the screens went back up into the rafters for Sunday Bloody Sundaythe real version, with the whole band. This rocked even more than Elevationthe crowd went nuts for it.
Then the song I couldnt wait to hear live Sweetest Thing. Bono started singing the oh-oh-oh parts, and the crowd would sing after him. He did this a few times, making his way to the piano that was near the top-left side of the heart. It was an unusual sight to see him playing but it was obvious he enjoyed it. Watching the screen you could see him smile several times during the song. I have heard people say that this song shouldnt be played live, etc., and they are out of their mind. Its a great, sweet, song and was one of the highlights of the show for me
In a Little While is my favorite song off ATYCLB, and they played a great rendition here. It was dedicated to Daniel Lanois who was in attendance. A few lines of Crazy Love were added to the end with Bono mentioning Ali: shes in the building with a baby in her belly Next was The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a beautiful song that sounded better than the studio version.
My favorite U2 song was next, and I had been waiting for it, hearing that it had been played at the first two shows. Bad was amazing. When I had first heard people compare their performance of it in Miami to the version on Wide Awake in America, I thought they were exaggerating. I was proven wrong. Not only did Bono hit every note but the song seemed to go on forever, with many bits of songs thrown in (I even remember hearing a little of Ruby Tuesday). This may have been the emotional high point of the show for me, and I realized I was wiping away tears.
What can be said about Streets? Several screens came up from the back of the stage and bathed the arena in red light. The crowd was probably into this song the most, and seemed almost to explode when the climax of the song was reached. Bono was crouched down like a sprinter, waiting for it and ran full-tilt 1.5 laps around the heart, of course not affecting his singing in the slightest.
The last song of the main set was The Fly and it stared off with no music, just Bono singing the chorus a few times alonethen the EXPLOSION of Edges guitar. The Fly has never rocked this much and Edge was truly amazing. Living up to a poster someone in the heart was holding that read Edge is God. It seemed like the crowd was blown away, not really expecting it. For the finish, Bono jumped off the stage and ran through the back exit, not through the GA section like I expected.
After a short intermission (where no one sat down), the screens came back up from the back and some images of Charlton Heston were displayed, along with scenes of guns and children, etc. Suddenly Edges guitar comes crashing in and everyone starts clapping with Bullet the Blue Sky. It was a great version but the guitar didnt really match that of The Fly and the excitement didnt really match that of Streets. Secretly I wish this song wouldnt be played unless Running to Stand Still is played right after.
Before the next song Bono walked to the back of the stage and lied down on the floor. The music to Mysterious Ways started and he began singing, still on his back. Then, you could see he was on top of one of those rising screens and it rose up slowly, revealing a silhouette of a belly dancer on the front of the screen. I love the live version of this song and was looking forward to Edge and Bono singing the choruses together, but it didnt happen. It was made up for though when a few more screens rose up, with the same dancing image and Bono moved around them, kind of dancing (or more accurately, as another reviewer pointed out, humping) one of them.
With or Without You was next and projections of constellations (like during Love is Blindness on the Sydney video) were cast upon the mesh screens and all around the arena. The moving dots of light gave the song a surreal effect. About 3/4 the way through, Bono grabbed a girl right near the point of the heart and danced with her. Actually, she didnt really dance, mostly just held on to himlucky girl!
One was beautiful, similar to how its usually played with the extra bit at the end. They actually looked like they were going to leave when it was through but they of course played Walk On. It got an amazing reception from the crowd, who sang along, with the fervor usually reserved for Pride. Knowing it was the last song I couldnt help but wish that it would go on forever. After the thank yous and goodnights, they left the stage as they came on, one by one, and it was over.
Listening to ATYCLB and AB over and over during the ride home was comforting. You know that empty feeling you get after a show that you know will probably be your last for at least 2 years, maybe more? Knowing that I would see them the next night in Atlanta kept me going. I think to myself how lucky I am to have an experience like this. There are so many people that dont get to. Thank you U2 for an amazing moment in my life.



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