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"In my head How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is about my father, Bob, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bob. His demise set me off on a journey, a rampage, a desperate hunt to find out who I was." — Bono



by Jon L.

Fantastic show, perhaps the best U2 gig I've seen outside the post-9/11 MSG shows (which will probably always exist in a category of their own). This was my first Vertigo Tour show (though I've got 5 more to go) and though my expectations were extremely high, it managed to exceed them.

As others have already commented, the logistics of getting in and out of the Meadowlands complex aren't the best, but it was forgotten once we were inside the arena. Sure, the staging is similar to Elevation but -- as far as the "heart/catwalk" goes -- can you really improve upon perfection? I thought the lights and screens were put to good use throughout the show; not too much, not too little. Loved the racing lines around the ellipse and the unexpected return of the "Zooropa baby face" during the encore.

So, I've been following the tour+setlits online, so I basically knew what to expect. Still, the familiar surge of excitement ran through me when the Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" came on the PA, and then the lights went down, and the band took the stage in the darkness. Guitar first, then keys, then confetti. "City of Blinding Lights." Pandemonium. U2 was back.

Some of the highlights: "Vertigo" rocked (and, of course, we hadn't seen the last of it), and I liked the new version of "Elevation" more than expected. The rest of the crowd, too, and I was impressed that the audience also seemed to be into the "Electric Co." and the "Miracle Drug/Sometimes You Can't...." combo. In fact, I only felt their attention flag a little during the "An Cat Dubh - Into the Heart" segment, except for when the little girl was brought onstage.

The militaristic trio of "Love+Peace," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and "Bullet the Blue Sky" predictabley rocked. Now, I've seen U2 10 times before and it was pretty clear last night that Bono was not quite as mobile/energetic as I've seen him other times, possibly due to his reportedly bad back. That said, he went nuts during "Love+Peace" and really kept the crowd into it. His simple dedication to the US troops during "Running to Stand Still" also brought a roar. "Pride" seemed more vigorous than in 2001, and while I miss the Lights (feels like that should be capitalized) at the beginning of "Where the Streets...", they're still there the second time through, and EVERYONE was on their feet with their arms in the air. Ah, if there are moments on this earth that resemble what heaven will be like, one of them is when the Lights come on in "Streets."

The Zoo Tv encore was a blast. I had never seen "Zoo Station" live before, and it was great (even if the crowd seemed a little lost), and I like the new stylings of "The Fly", too. I'll want to hear it again, though. And again. And again. "Mysterious Ways" is always a winner.

And a moment about the crowd -- I agree that it didn't sing along as well (with "Elevation," "Pride," "SBS") as I've heard other audiences, but damn, this crowd could cheer. It was LOUD. Really loud. The roars that classics received were defeaning, and the band noticed -- Bono mentioned it more than once, and I think that's what got us a clearly-spontaneous "Original of the Species" in the encores.

"All Because of You" -- and the crowd's response to it -- rocked more than expected, and I was thrilled with "Yaweh." It's never been a song I've loved on the CD (I like the alternate version from the Complete U2 better), but it felt very warm last night, a feeling enhanced by the four band members standing so close to each other on the catwalk. Having not been old enough to see U2 in the 1980s, I never thought I'd see "40" live, so that was wonderful, and I saw tears running down several faces as the band left the stage one by one, leaving Larry. Who didn't want to leave. Drum solo. Band back on stage. Vertigo. Awesome.

The crowd went nuts -- a perfect way to end the show. Yeah, on paper it looks strange to have the same song get played twice, but it was magic in that building. Everyone was buzzing about it as they left. I could literally feel the floor beneath me start to shake, as it did during "Beautiful Day" and "Streets." Unreal.

U2 is back. Game on.

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