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"The emotions that are on this record are very abstract, out of focus, fragmented, its words are gray. But that is exactly what it should be." — Bono, on War




by Mark Pineo

pardon all typos, i am typing this at work in a hurry.

U2 in Montreal on July 9, 2011 was my first U2 concert. Myself and three buds from Halifax Nova Scotia drove many hours to be there, and the experience was worth it and then some.

We ended up stage centre, just outside the circle. The people around us were incredible and by the end of the show we had established a sense of community that never happens here on the East Coast. Security was on top of everything. A guy peed in a cup and someone immediately called for security to remove him. Another instance involved a pair of fans who worked their way up front "to get water". When the water guy went by without a call, someone summoned security again and they were promptly ordered to retreat back to their spot. After waiting nearly 10 hours, and after getting a decent view, it was much appreciated.

Interpol was the shits. We had heard good things about their live sound, but walked away underwhelmed. Their lead guitarist had tuning issues, their drummer had timing issues, their keys player looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, and the frontman kept glaring at his bandmates at various times throughout. 3/4 of my party were musicians, and we all noticed issues throughout. They had their moments though, just not a great performance this night.

U2 killed their own set though. It seems at this part of the tour they are alternating between two setlists. One with Stay, HMTMKMKM, I Will Follow, and some others and then the set that we had this night. No gripes, because they blew me away with every song. But seeing Stay and HMTMKMKM in person would have meant that i never went to another rock show in my life (i'm 29). Instead i got to see Out of Control (i lost my shit), and Ultraviolet, which was the most memorable song of the night for me. Oh, and Zooropa! That was a nice treat, albeit a set regular at this point. Could have lived without Stuck in a Moment and a long-feeling version of Walk On.

Not much new stuff this night but Get on Your Boots...wow. I heard that it rocked live, and yeah. It rocks, big time. We were so tired by the end of the show that we considered leaving during Moment of Surrender. A partial downside to the greatest hits set that they are playing at this late part of a lengthy tour. We heard all that we wanted to hear by the end of With or Without You (with Shine like stars...).

Individually, they all had incredible charmisma and stage presence. They're all over 50, and aside from appearing a little stiff in places they're legs apparently are fine. Walking, running, stomping on every part of their huge stage. Bono had a couple throat glitches but sang very well. Not sure, but he was very...womanly this night. He sounded higher pitched at times, and in a weird way. I am not going to believe he was autotuned, but it was streaming to the world...just sayin'. I play guitar, and Edge's guitar tone is incredible, and his playing is awe inducing in person. He is worthy of being called a guitar god. Adam had the benefit of what we thought was a six-foot subwoofer right in front of us. What he's added to New Year's Day on the chorus is brilliant. Throughout the night he impressed with his ability and his sense of tone. Watching Larry was hard because of our or vantage point but he is very busy back there. Like the rest of the band, underrated in the musicianship department.

My final point of review is the presentation. I think this particular format requires multiple viewings, or a worthy DVD. We tried to get close, but i think we either didn't get close enough, or too close. We had great views of the band, but had to crank our necks to see the lights and video. We were also essentially under the claw so we missed out on most of the light show, but since we weren't in the inner circle we weren't close to the band either. With so much going on it was hard to get it all in. If i could do it over again i think i would just watch the band, listen to the music, and ignore the visuals. I may even get a seat and just listen and catch the light show. The political message has been reduced to an appropriate amount. Listening to bootlegs of the last tour, it was too much. The messages this time were seemlessly integrated into the setlist through videos and brief speaches. On the last tour, One, was preceded by at least a 7 minute rant from Bono about the One campaign. The song was ruined. This time, there was a short video while they took a rest, then during the song they showed images from Berlin and Trabants and the band just hanging out, acting like best friends. It was beautiful and almost made me cry. One, has been saved.

So much to say. Just go see it. It's incredible.

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