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I remember the frustration of hearing a melody in my head but not being able to quite put it down. So you learn to rely on other people, the band, and you start thinking that's a weakness. But it's a strength to rely on others.-- Bono, 2004


by FuneralTrack7

I suppose it was inevitable that U2 would design a spaceship and fly it around the world in support of a new album. They've already had a TV station and a supermarket and they're becoming more and more of an otherworldy being in the music industry. Still selling out stadiums while keeping the music innovative and without becoming a nostalgia act? What planet are these guys from?

Planet earth, supposedly, but they sure convinced me (and probably many others) otherwise with their show tonight. With the PA bookending 360 with the likes of David Bowie and Elton John (can you guess the songs?), U2 arrived on stage fully prepared to make a close encounter with 60,000 people. The stage seemed relatively capable of achieving such a feat and the band did, too.

The show came immediately to life with 4 songs from the new album and seemed to never want to let up. There had been much discussion this past week of the band including the atmospheric "Your Blue Room" into the set (they did rehearse it the day before), but where? The first four songs only seemed to reach half the audience, while the Old Stand-bys earned many drunken choruses of approval from everyone else. Once that first moment happened ("Beautiful Day"), U2 never let it stop. There were no apparent "buzzkill" moments in the show.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing (although I was looking froward to hearing the song and to see if Adam would actually take the mic at the end). The 360 show is quite extraordinary and is certainly the most impressive stage ever constructed. Even if you don't care for a particular song, there's always something to look at that you will likely never see again in your life. But without that kind of set list surprise, or even more troubling, without much spontaneity, 360 is U2 back to being a little too choreographed, a la PopMart.

Again, not necessarily a bad thing. The last two tours were loosely constructed to allow a complete set list overhaul every few shows. 360 just isn't designed that way. It's a concept show, but its concept is more abstract than anything else they've done. A track from the Passengers album does make an appearance as background music to a spacey video montage before the encore. We see random digital countdowns on the screen, but counting down to what? Bono has alluded to the show being about "space and time." It certainly is that.

But whatever the problems the show may have, one thing remains true: You've never seen anything quite like it. The expandable screen (from the point of view of the floor, anyway), is breathtaking and thankfully only expands sparingly. The boys do the best they can to play to the entire audience, although I'm sure many wished they could have branched out a little more often. While "Sunday Bloody Sunday"--often a highpoint of political commentary or call for peace in a U2 show--seems obligatory, "Walk On" give the show its most arresting and potent political statement, especially when the volunteers of Amnesty International paraded on stage donning the mask of prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi. Bono's suit of lights for "Ultraviolet" as well as the bizarre sight of him swinging from a lit up microphone is one of the show's more sublime visual moments (for some reason, it looks even more striking on the big monitor).

But as with any U2 show, the entire experience can be sublime, even without a spaceship. There is something about being stuck in the moment of a U2 show, a moment where you stop and realize "wow...I'm alive right now and I get to see and experience THIS!"

So, yes, take it all in. Take your photos. Make contact. Phone home and tell your friends. The spaceship is only in town for a short visit and the aliens aboard it come in peace. Live long and prosper.

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As for the opener... I've always felt that Coldplay was a perfectly capable U2 cover band, while Snow Patrol is a perfectly capable Coldplay cover band. So, it would stand to reason that Snow Patrol would be a perfectly capable opener fro U2, but I was wrong. They're more than just capable. They're quite good on their own and were one of the best openers I've seen on a U2 tour.

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