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"At the end of the day, you want to see Liz Taylor with the diamonds. You don't want to see her in a track suit." — Adam, on PopMart

by Nate

I'm tired. Where to begin...

Well this was my 3rd show of the tour so far, with Vegas right around the corner. My wife and I decided to start the GA queue at 6am the morning of the show. We brought some friends with us, and as always it was great to see so many familiar die-hard fans' faces in line. We nabbed a number from a very organized line-nazi, and then played the waiting game. I think I enjoy the GA line more than most ;) I was really hoping that the band would live up to my high expectations for their gigs in Phoenix. The weather was absolutely perfect and the venue is gorgeous. Things were looking up...

The first in a long line of disappointments came with the GA entry process. They let us in pretty early (around 4:15pm). We were in a massive GA mob of hundreds of people going down large ramps. People were falling, people were shoving, it wasn't pretty. They final approach was a mad dash for the stage, with little or no supervision by event staff. It was a total blitz! I was ok with this, having seen it before, but it was certainly frustrating seeing people ahead of me who arrived in line way later than me. Oh well, that happens. We were able to secure 3 very tight rail spots on the outside of the inner circle, a little towards Edge's side. Not terrible, all things considered. At least nobody got trampled.

The next disappointment I had was with the fans. They were not the usual easy-going U2 fans I'm used to seeing at other shows. There was fighting, pushing, shoving, people not respecting other people's space, etc.etc. Seriously guys, if you get into the stadium that early, make room for yourself and the others around you - sit down! Don't try to creep past people, and save their spot for them if they have to run to the restroom! "I'm wonderin'...where is the love? Where is the love?" I was telling the security guard in front of me that U2 fans were great, and they shouldn't have any problems tonight. Haha...seconds into 'Breathe,' they had to drag a couple of guys over the rail who were fighting to be ejected from the venue. People were NOT being cool, all around us. It was unbelievable and I was embarrassed to be a Phoenix fan last night. Almost 50 U2 shows now, and I've never seen so many problems with the fans. Maybe they were all from out of town, but I don't think I'm that lucky. There also seemed to be an excessive amount of medical problems, with tons of fans being pulled over the rail to get treated for what looked to be dehydration or the like. It's Phoenix, but it wasn't hot at all....a little bit scary to be honest.

Then the band came out. Wow. It's always a rush to see the boys! I don't know if it was where we were standing, but I have never in my life been to a U2 show that was as LOUD as that one was. My ears are still messed up a little, and they were ringing all night long after the show. "Breathe" was insanely loud and the feedback was terrible. The crowd was noticeably distracted by it. I've always thought Breathe was a poor choice at an opening song, but aside from my opinions on that - the sound at the beginning was just an annoyance last night. Vocals were drowned out by not only the usual guitar feedback during that song, but also some obvious technical problems resulting in high-pitched squeeling that made several people cover their ears. It happened several times.

It wasn't until the beginning of "Magnificent" that the technical problems were resolved. Things got better from there, but there were still a few snags.

"In a Little While" was odd, because it seemed like Edge was having guitar issues - but Dallas was nowhere in sight. This led me to believe that Edge had simply forgotten how to play that tune, and he struggled to find the right sound. They had to stop the song, restart it (re-boot yourself) and then Edge seemed to eventually get it right.

I thought Bono would have made up for all of the early problems by exploding with some serious energy, or maybe changing up the set list to throw in a new song, etc....but no such luck. It certainly felt like a night where "Party Girl" would make an appearance, but it was the same - old - tired - set list. It seemed like instead of doing something cool like that, he felt like more personal fan involvement would be a better way to go - bringing up 3 girls for 2 songs, acknowledging a bunch of fans in the pit, and even giving a little girl his shades during "City of Blinding Lights." Unfortunately, none of that really made up for the energy that was sucked out of the stadium from the beginning of the show. Oh - did I mention that it wasn't sold out? That probably contributed as well...the upper deck was a ghost town.

There were glimpses of energy from Bono where he captured the crowd - like "Elevation," sounding almost perfect. "Unknown Caller" seems to be back in action - and it also sounded great! I was very pleased with "One," but the other tunes they played just seemed to be missing something. Maybe it felt like they were just going through the motions, or maybe it was because I was so disappointed with the beginning of the show, I'm not sure. "Moment of Surrender" ended and the band walked off the stage to very, very, very sub-standard U2 applause. All the shows I've been to, this was by far the quietest I've ever heard the crowd upon U2's departure from the stage. Again, that tune doesn't do it for me as a closing song, but regardless of that - it still left us all feeling like something was left to be desired.

We had 2 friends with us who had never seen any U2 shows before, so I was curious to hear their reviews. To my shock, they said they LOVED it and it was the best show they've ever seen. I guess it just goes to show you that even a pretty bad U2 show is still pretty good.

Still, I'm not lowering the bar. They need to do better. We'll see what happens in Vegas.

-Nate in Phoenix
(I will post more pix in this thread when I get them)

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