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The reason U2 started writing songs is because they couldn't play anyone else's. -- Paul McGuiness

by Mike (bonobaltimore)

I wanted to wait a few days to write this review thinking that I needed some time for things to sink in. Well, here goes...

San Diego, March 28th, 2005 was quite a magical and unforgettable day. Waiting in line with the hardest of the hardcore ALL DAY wasn't nearly as painful as it may sound. U2 fans are a unique breed. Everyone was sharing past experiences, food and drinks, and saving places in line. Reconnecting with old friends who I shared many a-long (and blissful) nights on past tours was terrific. Aside from a 10 minute bout with the rain midday and a 20 or so minute bout of pretty cold temperatures before we got into the arena, the weather was absolutely perfect. Onto the show...

I was a bit dissappointed in not getting into the ellipse. Like other people have mentioned, it seems like the ellipse was bigger than the heart from the Elevation Tour and that fewer people were inside. We wound up standing about 3 rows deep outside the ellipse at about the 5 O'clock position. U2 fans typically don't push or shove and tonight was really no different. And then it began...

My initial thought was that "City of Blinding Lights" wasn't the best opener. I love the tune, don't get me wrong, but I don't think that it packs enough punch to carry the opening song. Instead, I would have flip-flopped it with "All Because of You" which was played at the end of the encore. The beaded light curtain was colorful and different and the ellipse was also pretty cool but here's the thing: being where I was, I couldn't really make out everything that was on the screens and couldn't see that there were racing lights around the ellipse. The bead-curtain was also tilted in a few different directions; my belief is that people sitting directly across from the stage could make it out pretty well but it's going to be difficult to get everything from most sections in the arena. On Popmart and Elevation, even standing really close, you could make out the screens. I can only imagine that people inside the ellipse got even less.

The "Stories For Boys" snippet, "Electric Co," "An Cat Dubth," and "Into The Heart" were highlights of the show for me. I had never heard they played live and they didn't dissappoint. Wow. "Electric Co" was as explosive as I always imagined it to be. The rest of the first set was strong and everything was played pretty tightly. Bono's voice was a big rough at times and gentle and soothing at others. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" was touching and "Love And Peace" got the crowd into a frenzy with Bono playing the drum while wearing a headband. "Running To Stand Still" was one of the other highlights for me. I heard them play it during the Zoo TV tour but it wasn't it's original form then. This was the real deal and it was all that I had hoped for. Hearing "Zoo Station" was a surprise although I know that as the tour goes on it will sound a lot tighter; ditto "The Fly." My biggest gripe with the set came with the closer, "Elevation." Aside from the fact that it was poorly misplaced, it just didn't pack the punch that it did on the last tour. The last song of the first set is an important one; definitly not a place for "Elevation"-more or less an okay U2 song.

The second set was somewhat dissappointing in retrospect. I didn't want to hear "Pride" at all. I've heard it at every U2 show I've been to (this was my 30th show!) and just feel like they've done everything they can do with it. Aside from that, it's slowed down too much and Bono's voice just can't support it like he used to. Don't ask me why but "Streets" also didn't pack the punch that it usually does. It's one of my favorite U2 tunes, top 5 of all time. I never get sick of hearing it BUT the crowd wasn't as into it as it usually is. I thought that "One" was excellent and "All Because of You" was very good despite being placed too late in the show. "Yahweh" was flat out dissappointing to me. I would have much rather heard "Crumbs From Your Table" or "Original Of The Species." It's too bad that they cut out the best part of that song-the part when Bono sings, "Sun is coming up from the ocean, this love is like a drop in the ocean." We'll see if they keep this in the set. With that said, "40" was easily one of the best songs they played all night. Thinking back, I'm getting chills thinking about how they left the stage one by one leaving only Larry Mullen drumming with the crowd singing "How long...to sing this song" and how the crowd kept singing after the house lights came up.

All in all, I have to say that it was a fantastic day and night. I really wanted a new U2 experience; something that I haven't seen before and I believe that I got it. Hearing the old stuff was worth the price of admission. I'm looking forward to seeing the tour again; it's only going to get better but for now, I'll always have opening night in San Diego.

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