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"'Streets' is the gift that keeps on giving. The way it reinvents itself every tour is probably part of the magic — we've never got bored with it." — Willie Williams

by latindrummer

The differences from this night in comparison to the 5/19 San Jose gig were significant. This particular show was emotionally charged for the group, having lost longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan the previous night, during his sleep. Fittingly so, this show and this tour were dedicated to Dennis. I initially thought the show or even the tour would be cancelled. But they’ve soldiered on and made good on their contracts and appear to be honoring the current schedule. How? I can’t begin to imagine.

About the show itself, a kick-ass change up occurred with the second number of the night. “The Miracle of Joey Ramone” concluded and a stage tech handed The Edge his Gibson Explorer. Whenever you see The Edge sling on that Explorer in natural finish, you know you’re going to experience “Out of Control” or “I Will Follow,” and IWF seems to have a permanent place in the 4th slot of the set. The group has been sporadically pulling “Out of Control” from their repertoire the last few tours. It was bitchin to experience it for only the 2nd time in the last 7 U2 shows I’ve attended. The bass guitar and kick drum rumbled over the PA system and Edge kicked the silvery riff into gear. This was the group’s first official Irish single, preceding “I Will Follow” and both taken from the Boy album. Famous for being written on Bono’s 18th birthday, the driving post-punk anthem speaks about the frustration as well as elation of the two events of life never in one’s control: when you’re born and when you die. Add an insistent, pulsing 4 beat under it, driving bass lines and a gleaming silvery guitar riff, and you have the first U2 classic, ever. This is also one of those tracks where you have to sing along with The Edge on his backing parts. There’s just no way to stop. Coldplay took their ‘ohh ohhh ohhh’ choruses from The Edge, seriously. Bono introduced the song as if they were playing the clubs in 1980, announcing “We’re a band from the north side of Dublin, called U2, formerly known as The Hype!” The group charged full speed ahead and the arena floor starts bouncing up and down. The lyrics have been altered over the years, with Bono singing ‘You’ve got spirit, I’ve got soul, we’ve got some big ideas, we’re out of control!’ As much as I enjoy “The Electric Co,” also off of Boy, this change up was a welcomed curve ball in the set.

Much later in the set, Bono’s delivery on “Every Breaking Wave” was stirring and so much stronger than the San Jose gig. This new material is catching on in a great way. While the San Jose audience was respectful and cheered appropriately, the LA crowd seemed more familiar with the new material, cheered loudly during the song intros and sang along. I could hear many LA fans singing along with EBW. It’s fast becoming a live favorite and emotional center piece for these concerts. On the e-stage and accompanied by Edge on piano, Bono once again soared and nailed his parts flawlessly and with more lung power.

“Angel of Harlem” was pulled out this night, following “Desire.” Both songs got the arena floor hopping. I’m rarely one to listen to Rattle & Hum songs or go bonkers when they’re performed live, but these renditions were electrified and spirited. This version of AOH was bouncy and joyous, it was great to see the crowd on the floor become as animated as they did and filled in during the choruses. It was a reminder that this group has its fun side and an even greater reminder that there’s wonderful material on the Rattle & Hum album. Those songs have a sprinkling of Motown, Delta Blues, jazz and an infectious swagger to them, especially live. The video feed on Meerkat was successfully made and the fan pulled onto the stage playfully filmed the group as they grooved through “Angel of Harlem,” adding to the fun and festive vibe of this portion of the concert.

Near the end of the second set I noticed someone air drumming. It’s awesome to spot the drummers in the audience. During “Pride (In the Name of Love),” a guy a couple rows down held his camera phone with the left hand while his right hand did the 16th note rolls during the pre-chorus. And he even air drummed the snare accents! :)

Once again, “The Troubles” was deleted from the set in favor of “Bad.” Bono quietly expressed “So you know, this is a sign, a mark for this show. We surrender to you, you surrender to the music. That God created music, or whatever you think…the grace of God. It’s about surrender, it’s an important word. This is about letting go. So anything you want to let go, just let go of it tonight…I know I sound like a preacher, but you know it’s the truth. Let go. It’s the miracle of music…’if you twist and turn away, if you tear yourself in two again…” Tonight’s version had a bit of rocky start vocally, but as it progressed it became a hell of a lot stronger than the San Jose version, with Bono confidently building the crescendo and belting out the ‘wide awake’ portion. A snippet of “Moment of Surrender” was added to the coda of “Bad” – ‘at the moment of surrender, I’ve folded to my knees, I did not notice the passers-by and they did not notice me…’

The closer for the night was changed. “One” was omitted from the set and it was replaced with a moving tribute to Dennis Sheehan. For the die hards out there, you already know that if The Edge and Adam Clayton trade instruments, it means that the rarely played (and legendary concert staple), “40” is about to be performed. “40” closes the WAR album, and it was the regular closer for U2 concerts in the 80s, its lyrics directly taken from the 40th Psalm in the Bible. Bono expressed to the crowd that during filming for the Under a Blood Red Sky video at Red Rocks, it was Dennis Sheehan that encouraged the crowds to continue singing the chorus to “40” long after the show had actually ended, even singing the chorus as they filed into their cars in the parking lots. Tonight the band performed “40” in his memory. Near the close of the song, one by one the band members exited the stage, leaving Larry to continue playing unaccompanied for a few bars, ultimately ending with a final crash. The crowd continued to sing the chorus even as the lights went up exited the venue. I swear I didn’t cry. It was a great send off to Dennis Sheehan, whose image was projected on the main screen.

Songs performed this night which were not performed on 5/19/15 were “Out of Control,” “Desire,” “Angel Of Harlem,” and “40.” Luckily, my vantage point this time around was vastly improved.

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