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"At this point, we probably all could have done some more solo work, but it's just less fun." — Edge



by Mike Brown

While it was unbelievable to be able to see U2 collaborate with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen in person, I must admit U2's set was a little disappointing. When there wasn't guests on stage, it almost seemed rushed - or like they were just going through the motions. When U2 were performing by themselves, I never felt that magic I usually feel watching them live.
Part of this may be that I also went to the show the night before and Springsteen's headlining set was amazing. He didn't come on until 11:30 and played till 1:30am. While 2 hours is actually a little short for a Springsteen show, it felt like a full set. U2 were done by 11:30, having barely played an hour - a good 15 minutes or so of which were spent stopping and restarting "Because The Night" [What was up with Patti Smith!?]. Springsteen's set also had a great encore. Surprise guest Billy Joel came out and did four or five songs with Bruce. Then all of Bruce's guests came back out for a blow the roof off performance of Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher", a tremendously satisfying ending to the night. For U2's encore, they came out alone, did "Beautiful Day" and that was it. A lot of people around me seemed surprised and disappointed by the abrupt ending of the show. Does MSG have a curfew? Maybe the promoters were fined for the night before and didn't want it to go late again? It's too bad.
Also, some people were saying that Metallica upstaged U2. I normally hate Metallica but they did have a pretty strong set. In my opinion, they had the best performance by a guest - Kinks frontman Ray Davies completely stole the show. Lou Reed was also great and while Ozzy Osbourne is not my thing, it was pretty fun too. I am bored beyond belief by Metallica's own songs, but at least they seemed to be giving it their all and the crowd really responded to them.
As for positives during U2's set - "Gimme Shelter" with Mick Jagger and Fergie was definitely one of the top highlights of the night - I was especially surprised by Fergie's vocals, she was great. U2 also did a great job musically during this song, The Edge's guitar solo ruled - I suspect they could do a pretty good cover of this even without the guests.
"Because The Night" with Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen was great once they got it worked out. I loved seeing Bruce do "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" with the band. I was enjoying "Mysterious Ways" and was a bit disappointed when they interrupted it by bringing out The Black Eyed Peas, but it ended up being pretty fun - even if they have no reason to be playing at a concert celebrating the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
And it was awesome to see Bono and Bruce having fun with the Stuck In A Moment duet, even if Mick Jagger didn't really seem to fit in with the song.
I thought U2 seemed a bit more energized and into it when they came back out to do "Beautiful Day", which made it all the more disappointing that it was all they came out to do.
I don't want to rag on U2, I'm hoping this was just a bit of an off night but I've thought the same about a few recent performances I've watched (SNL big time and The Rose Bowl a little bit) and never thought there would be day I would see them live in person and not be thrilled.

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