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"We grow up with this rather juvenile idea that people who are not like us don't get it — the suits don't get it — but it doesn't make sense anymore. Sometimes the enemy is your own indifference." — Bono

by Liz Z

U2 On The (Long) Island of Adventure 6/9/18

This was my first time seeing a concert at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum and the first time the band has played there in over 25 years! It certainly surprised us to see this venue on the list when the tour was first announced. When strategizing how to use my U2.com codes to score General Admission tickets to this tour, I figured trying for this venue would be less competitive than their NYC shows a few weeks later and I was right! What I totally didn’t expect was to end up on the catwalk railing (a rail spot!!) lining up only a little before 5pm the evening of the show. We ended up next to some fans who had been in line since 10:30 AM.

I had decided to go into this tour “innocent” and not memorize any set lists, watch performances or read fan reviews ahead of time. Since we have tickets to a few more shows later this month, I figured why not give myself an element of surprise which is so rare in the digital age. The only thing I knew going in was that the band would not play any Joshua Tree songs which I found refreshing, since there are so many other songs I’d love to hear, and I love the new album.

Waiting for the show to start, I missed manager Guy Oseary walk past to scope out the crowd as he is known to do, but my husband saw him notice our e+i reusable plastic cups (2 beers were a whopping $33 with $6 potentially refunded if you returned in your cups at the end of the night, of course we kept them though!). I was a little disappointed that more fans didn’t have the cups (I don’t think it was widely promoted at the venue), but I did notice perhaps less plastic waste on the floor than other shows at the end of the night.

We did notice Edge’s guitar tech Dallas out on the floor before the show, between the VIP and Red Zone to meet some fans. He seemed super freindly and posed for pics with fans.

The band hit the stage a little later than usual, around 8:40. I was sad to hear there were lines of fans still waiting to get into the venue. Summer weekend beach traffic was compounded with the neighboring Belmont Stakes races. Apparently the band avoided this by helicoptering in to the parking lot. What an awesome sight that would have been to see all four of them arrive!

I wasn’t sure if being on the railing mid-way on the catwalk was where we’d want to be when so many fans clustered at the main and b-stage, but any doubts were erased when the band opened the concert in the middle of the floating TV screen, right in front of us! We had the most amazing view of the Edge and slightly behind Bono – so close (yet so far away!). The Edge completely tore it up for “Blackout.” A complete twist, since they had opened i+e on the main stage. We were so close I could notice so many details about the band. Edge’s awesome ripped jeans had some silkscreened images of faces under the ripped parts which made me so curious.

Then the screen lifted up and it was this amazing realization of the fans on the opposite side of the rail from us, all lit up. We all waved and smiled, marveling at this magnificent production.

We were treated again when the entire band came to catwalk to play “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” We had an incredible view of Larry’s drumming and might have slight whiplash from looking left and right with 2 band members equally on each side of our vantage point.

The b-stage only seemed a little far away for the second set. Only seeing U2 live since Popmart, I’ve never seen Bono as his alter-ego McPhisto and we’d never heard “Acrobat” played before (timeless in that it still has resonance in today’s political climate). Bono wiped his makeup off and sang to Ali about how much he missed the family (“Eli and his exams, his son John taking a big place in his heart, and he’d see the girls in Brooklyn later….”) A perfect intro to “You’re The Best Thing About Me” which has quickly become one of my favorite U2 songs. I recently heard an interview with Bono on SiriusXM that he got the idea for the song after a rock critic said that the “best thing about Bono was his wife, Ali.” Good job Bono, turning something negative into a positive!

The intro to “Staring At the Sun” also seemed very fresh and unrehearsed – Bono said he “couldn’t remember writing it” but then Edge pointed it out he could take full credit for it, and everyone laughed.

Then “Pride” came on and boom, there just 15 feet behind us, popped up Adam Clayton out of the middle of nowhere on a bespoke stage!! Edge did the same on the opposite side of the venue. I don’t think the band has done ANY thing like this live before. It made the element of surprise so exciting for us. This reminded me of a similar surprise tactic Coldplay did a few years back when I saw them.

Before “City of Blinding Lights”, we noticed two copies of a book were still lying on the stage: Enid Blyton’s “The Island of Adventure.” From i+e, I knew Bono often tore up books and pages floated down from above the crowd, but that was usually during “Until the End of the World” which we’d already heard. They were gone by the end of the concert, so it’s possible that they were used during “Song for Someone” (I’m going to check a page that  U2Start.com started that tracks books used on the tour to see if more details come out about it.)

While it’s getting harder and harder to say which is the best U2 show I’ve ever seen (since they are all so incredible and different) I have to say that this was one of the best experiences I’ve had at a show. Battling the insane LI traffic was worth it – the Nassau Coliseum is a great place to see a show (easy parking, easy to leave the venue, great sound, small capacity = amazing views from wherever you sit or stand). And if you needed it, there’s a Marriot hotel a stone’s throw from the venue with a rocking bar full of flight attendants and U2 fans – such a funny scene! Most of all, the audience was awesome, a really nice mix of rock fans, many of whom had never seen the band before or only a few times, plus some parents with their kids. It was nice to see the band expanding their audience by playing a new venue. A true “(long) island of adventure” for many tonight! 

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