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Boywas the opposite of machismo. I do think it's very unusual. -- Bono


by manxman

I was able to score GA tickets for both nights in Vancouver so after months of excitement I was off to my first opening night of a U2 tour.

I arrived around 4:00 p.m. and found the GA line wasn't that bad.  Surprisingly the line hardly grew for the next hour.  If I had arrived at 5:00 it probably would not have made much of a difference. 

The folks at Rogers Arena were great.  We were initially told we'd be entering at 6:00. When that got pushed back they were really good about going through the line and letting everyone know we'd be delayed. 

We finally started up the stairs to the doors and went through the ticketless entry without any problems.  I had South side tickets the first night and they gave me a wristband and directed me to the entry into the arena.  I quickly made my way to the front as quickly as I could and ended only about 30 feet back from the stage.

The pre-show songs playing were the soundtrack to my teenage years.  I graduated high school in 1985, so hearing The Jam, Flock of Seagulls, Stranglers, Joy Division, The Clash and others really set the mood.  Here I must digress.  It took me a while to really sit down and listen to the new album.  In my younger days I would sit down and listen to a new album from start to finish, but today life often gets in the way.   But a few months ago I really sat down and listed to SOI and it just clicked with me.  It took me back to an appreciation for discovering new and different music that really spoke to me as a teenager.   I truly believe some of the songs on SOI are as great as anything they've ever done, but I think much of that has to do with my age, and my own reflections on my youth as I watch my own kids become teenagers themselves. 

The crowd got really excited when the Ramones, "Baby, I Love You", came on and it was clear things were about to start.   Suddenly a mix of ""Beat on the Brat" came on and everyone knew it was time.  The band took the stage and launched into "The Miracle", followed by "Out of Control".  This was my first time hearing that live so I was pumped.   During the first few songs they didn't use the giant screen and it really felt like I was watching them in a small venue - right up front.  To be blunt, that probably wasn't the best experience for the fans up in the stands, but they'd be rewarded later with the big screen and the smaller stage.

When Bono climbed the steps into the giant screen I thought things were going to take a bad turn.  I won't try to describe the set up because Youtube videos will show it much better, but my initial reaction was it was going to be like a cheesy Las Vegas stage show.  I was totally wrong.  The use of the images, with Bono walking through down his street worked.  It came across as heartfelt and not kitschy.  When the entire band entered for a few songs it really allowed them to connect with the entire arena. 

It was hard to see the band on the smaller stage.  When Edge had his famous fall, I really couldn't see what happened.  There were clearly mistakes.   A flub here and there.  It seemed like Edge was having some guitar problems a few different times, and I thought I saw Larry's drum tech making repairs mid-song, but it was opening night after all.  

"Iris" was amazing.  At one point Bono was down on his knees and it looked like he was sucking his thumb like a lost child.  On the other hand, I didn't feel that "The Troubles" worked.  I love the song, but the timing seemed off.   I hope it returns.  

Other thoughts:  This version of "Bullet" really rocks.  The stripped down "Sunday Bloody Sunday" going right into "Raised by Wolves" was very powerful.  

All in all I can't say it was the best U2 concert I'd ever been to, but it was still a great show and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  For the best U2 concert, I'd have to wait another 24 hours......

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