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"I would call myself an aggressive pacifist." — Bono

by Popmartijn

U2 has really conquered the Netherlands. Since the concerts began on Tuesday, you cannot open a magazine or listen to the radio without frequently seeing/hearing U2. However, you don't notice much of this assault when you're sitting for the entrance of the Gelredome. Here you are in a nice coccoon, surrounded by fellow U2 fans and oblivious to everything that happens during the day outside the concert venue. Thankfully I didn't oversleep myself today. But as I'd already been standing on the spots I'd wished (totally up front at the second Cologne show and at the tip of the heart at the second Arnhem concert) I didn't mind where I would be now. Sure, the heart again would be nice, but most of all I wanted to have some room. Being at the front is great for the excitement and the frenzy, but you don't have much room to jump and dance, at least I don't. So today I wanted to be again in the separate section outside the heart but now at the back of it. The waiting was again much fun. I again met some very nice fans. I also met fans I'd seen many times (even in Cologne) who are following the tour around (hello Andre and Ria!). With the conversations with other fans it appeared many, including me, were hoping that tonight would be something special. Arnhem is the first city on the European tour where U2 plays three times in a row. Everybody had in their had what happened at the last night in Boston and Chicago, where U2 played a totally different setlist with some rare songs. As soon as the doors opened we stormed to the front. And even though I'd decided to take it easy this concert, at the moment supreme I couldn't. I just wanted to be at front, so I went for the heart. And I made it once again! However, I had no interest in the first row. When reason came back I decided to sit somewhere in the middle. During the opening act I could even lie down and rest a little bit before U2 would start! (And lying down Kelis didn't sound that terrible compared to the other nights, or maybe it was because she didn't play Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.) Anyway, the lights stayed on, Sgt. Pepper's blasted out the PA and the show was on! I had plenty of room to jump and dance and so had others around me. And this included four morons. At first I thought they were maybe only over-enthusiastic as they were wildly dancing. But when this near-moshing behaviour continued I got annoyed. And when they could only scream or use a cell-phone between the songs or when Bono was making an emotional speech about Herman Brood, I knew they were not fans at all, just some morons. Thankfully they didn't ruin the show for me, but their behaviour didn't help the atmosphere either. During Until The End Of The World Bono pulled a photographer on the heartwalk who could shoot some pictures. Not much later Bono even motioned to the rest of the photographers pit to come on the heartwalk and follow him. I guess it was a photographer's dream as Bono was clearly acting for them. No, Anton Corbijn did not climb the heartwalk. He was at the concert though as I saw him in the heart passing by a couple times. Cool! After this song Edge got handed a new guitar and I thought "Hey, that one looks like the one he uses in Pride." Barely had I thought this or they indeed did launch into Pride. The previous show I wasn't too enthousiastic about this one (a think the song is a bit overplayed) but now it sounded better. Maybe because it was played early in the set, but it had a little bit more vigour. I started to sing softly with the words, but halfway through the song I noticed a taper standing near me so I stopped singing. Believe me, you haven't missed anything as my singing is completely off-key. (BTW, just before the concert I'd also moved a bit as I saw another taper and since I wanted to jump and cheer, not necessarily sing, I didn't want to ruin his recording.) Before Kite, Bono made a speech about a person who has supported U2 in the Netherlands for more than 20 years. He dedicated the song to rock journalist Bert van der Kamp, saying this was the first time ever he dedicated a song to a critic. At the end he tried to change the ending into "The last of the rock critics" but then ran into trouble finding a phrase rhyming on critic. Gone had a great guitar solo as Edge was really into the song. This tour it's the first time I've heard Out Of Control, but tonight I heard it already for the third time. But I don't mind! It is a great song and it sounded great too (in the heart the sound quality really was excellent). A song I was a bit less excited about tonight was Sunday Bloody Sunday. It did of course not match the intensity of the first night, but still I didn't feel for this song tonight. The acoustic part (this night only one song) had no surprises. They again played Stay (I'd hoped for a different tune and later heard that they had first thought of playing Angel Of Harlem. What a shame they didn't) which segued into Bad. No girl on the stage tonight, but Bono did sing the whole song (as he had skipped parts during the first night). The Isolation, Revelation, etc. part still gives me shivers and makes the song really come alive. The crowd was also really alive during Streets. Or, alive is not the right word. No matter where or when U2 plays, Streets always seems to let the venue explode. But the moment all the lights kick in gives you such a rush of positive enery, you cannot do anything else but jump and scream (or be silent and emotional if you see it from the stands). During Mysterious Ways (a song which never tires me, no matter how much I hear it) Bono pulled a female fan on the side-stage to dance with her. After a few moments she decided to use her 15 minutes of fame and started to walk/dance to the main stage. Halfway through she hesitated however and looked back to Bono. As he was still having a look of "What's happening to me this time?" she turned back and danced again with the B-man. The encores had no more surprises. Bullet's life is extended with the new maniac speech Bono gives (either about Mark Chapman, arms in general or the whatever subject he finds interested that evening). I still think With Or Without You ends too abruptly as I don't mind it going on for a longer time. The projection effects are great though, especially at the Gelredome. As there was no audience behind the band, there was a big backdrop (a light-grey sheet with the Elevation elevator on it in dark-grey). This backdrop made the projections much clearer and during With Or Without You I really got the feeling this time that we were in the center of the universe. And with Walk On the concert really ends on a positive note. Tonight the band again took an extra stroll on the heartwalk. Unfortunately, no extra encore was played, no matter how loud we screamed and cheered. This, coupled with a setlist that was essentially the same as a first night did leave me with a bit of an underwhelming feeling. I'd hoped that this concert would be extra special and it wasn't. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed myself immensely as an U2-concert is always a big celebration. Rock on!

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