Opening Act(s): Carney, Arcade Fire
Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until The End Of The World - Anthem, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Ballad Of Springhill, Beautiful Day - Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix) - Discothèque - Life During Wartime - Psycho Killer, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On. Encore(s): One, Hallelujah - Where The Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With Or Without You - Love Will Tear Us Apart, Moment Of Surrender, Out Of Control, 40.
It's the final concert of the U2 360 Tour as well as the first time U2 has ever played a show in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. "The Ballad Of Springhill" (aka: Springhill Mining Disaster) is performed for 30-40 seconds soon after "I Still Haven't Found..." and it is the first time U2 has played any portion of this song live since 1987. The band debuts "40" for the first time on the tour and it is the final song of the concert (in Pittsburgh only a snippet of "40" was performed at the end). It is the first time U2 has ever debuted an original song in the final show of a tour. Just prior to playing this song, U2 sprayed fans with a bottle of champagne, and at the end, each band member walked off the stage with Larry Mullen the last to leave. U2's most profitable tour (7.3 million tickets sold grossing over $736 million dollars) comes to a graceful conclusion.
Maritime U2 fans find what they've been looking for
by Stephen Cooke
MONCTON -- It's the ultimate musical example of the mountain coming to Mohammad, as U2's mammoth 360º Tour touched down in Moncton on Saturday night, bringing the Irish quartet's two-year odyssey -- for lack of a better term -- full circle.
Even years of hype, the halfway-point release of the Rose Bowl show on DVD and the months of building excitement since the show's announcement couldn't prepare anyone for the experience of seeing one of the world's top acts in such an elaborate production worthy of its three-decade reputation.
The monstrous, spider-like stage, known officially as "The Claw" has dominated the Magnetic Hill landscape for days, as the gleaming spire that pierced its heart acted like a beacon, drawing more than 80,000 concertgoers from across Atlantic Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean, for the grand finale of the highest grossing concert tour of all time.
While Twitter reported Neil Young was spotted in town pre-concert (having breakfast at Cora's, according to one tweet), a former James Bond, the very tanned Pierce Brosnan (for whom U2 composed the Goldeneye theme tune) made his way to the VIP tent backstage.
It seemed as if Bono not only has the ear of world leaders, but Mother Nature herself. The downpour that frustrated drivers making their way to the Maritimes' hub, and drenched early arrivals jostling for position around the outer lip of the circular stage, came to a halt about an hour before opening act Carny got the ball rolling.
Chosen by U2 to help develop the tunes for their Broadway Spider-Man musical Turn Off the Dark, the obscure L.A. band lived up to the latter half of the production's name with a fierce miasma of sound delivered in theatrical style, interrupted briefly by an odd dash of western swing and punk on Amelie, sounding like Les Paul being put through a blender.
Given the age of the audience in the grandstands, the biggest impression Carny made was likely its mashup of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and The Beatles' I Want You, as its drama was soon outshadowed by Montreal's Arcade Fire.
Fresh from its appearances on Dartmouth's waterfront and Sackville, N.B.'s, Sappyfest (where they played a not-so-secret show under the nom-de-stage of Shark Attack), the world's reigning indie pop band bit into the challenge of performing for the largest crowd it has ever seen.
The Montreal octet began as it did on Alderney Landing, with Ready to Start prodding the crowd with a double drumbeat from Jeremy Gara and Regine Chassagne, whose sparkling gold lame dress would have been visible from space. Dressed in a jacket pilfered from a first class waiter on a 1920s ocean liner, singer guitarist Win Butler switched to bouzouki for Keep the Car Running, while Arcade Fire's orchestral pop motor inspired pockets of dancing within the ever-growing mass of bodies filling the space around the stage.
"It is our sacred duty to make sure you're warm for the last show of U2's tour," vowed Butler, and the band took it's job seriously, with big, beaming smiles and generous blasts of baroque, hook-filled tunes.
As the sun, what we could see of it anyway, began to set, the air was ripped apart by the earsplitting roar of two Canadian Armed Forces fighter jets flying overhead. The sound system pumped out tunes with a certain finality about them, like Don't Dream It's Over and It's The End of the World As We Know It, before switching to the traditional show opener, David Bowie's Space Oddity. The air quickly turned electric: U2 was on its way.
Suddenly The Claw came alive, its canvas-covered fingers pulsating with light while the sea of people became a living ocean, undulating to Even Better Than the Real Thing while glowing with dots of phosphoresence from its cellphones. As Larry Mullen pounded the floor toms, Bono came out like a champion, kicking and jabbing with his mic stand like a UFC fighter psyching out his opponent.
U2 made The Claw their personal playground, as Bono, The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton crossed the twin bridges to the outer ring for Mysterious Ways. Only a few feet from adoring fans outstreched hands, they circled the catwalk as tens of thousands of voices joined in. Bono shook those hands and menaced a nearby video camera for Faraway So Close. To the faraway crowd gazing at the giant LCD screen suspended over the stage, he looked like a man possessed, and not for the first time that night.
After The Edge's fuzz-draped riff accompanied an impassioned cover of Leonard Cohen's Anthem, Bono mused "Love, flowers, peace, freedom...somewhere in the world tonight that word freedom feels very expensive."
Chucking flowers into the crowd from the rotating bridge, the frontman began gesticulating like an evangelical preacher, shaking with the spirit. All that was missing was a pair of snakes.
After the blistering blast from the past of U2's debut single I Will Follow, and the sage advice of Get On Your Boots, Bono finally greeted the crowd and mused about the tour's final resting place.
"Moncton...Town of Monks...." he grinned, while remarking that the tour had seen 18 births, two marriages and eight separations among its crew.
"I'm still a work in progress," he then declared as The Edge's familiar bright arpeggio announced the start of Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, which Bono let the crowd sing while he sashayed around to the back of the stage to conduct the choir loft in the rear grandstand.
Then came an a cappella chorus The Ballad of Springhill, which made the crowd lose their collective minds as Bono's vocal cracked a bit relating the tale of the Nova Scotia mining disaster. "Beautiful tune," he said in a hushed voice.
The beautiful tune was followed by Beautiful Day, introduced by an officer on the International Space Station, who could probably make out the stage and the flashing of a myriad cameras as the clouds parted.
While newer tunes made less of an impact with the audience, including one composition from the aforementioned Spider-Man debacle, nostalgic buttons were firmly pushed by Pride (In the Name of Love), and its undying ode to freedom and equality, before the screen elongated to almost stage level and U2 kicked out the jams with its best single of the past decade, the dance-inducing Vertigo, followed by its worst, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, helped only moderately by a snazzy dance remix.
Thankfully, the show soon switched gears to cut through to a deeper emotional core as only U2 can do, with Bono delivering a heartfelt Walk On dedicated toAung San Suu Kyi, theBurmese democratic leader who ended 15 years of house arrest last year, and a glorious Where the Streets Have No Name lifted the crowd on a wave emotion that could be felt across the hill, reminding us that music has the power to move mountains.
© 2011 The Halifax Herald Limited