U2 blog: Song by song with the Vancouver Sun

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By Graeme McRanor, Vancouver Sun

Reportedly, U2's 360 tour requires anywhere from 120 to 189 trucks and busses to haul its giantclaw-like stage and the 500-strong crew needed for the production around North America.

Add to that the bands private jet and its 70,000 miles logged over the course of the two-year, worldwide tour and, well, thats a pretty substantial carbon footprint.

However, if we're to believe the spin from a certain American music rag, the timing for such a colossal greenhouse fart couldn't be better.

After all, with the world mired in its various crises, they argue, what better time to tour with such an audacious, irresponsible rock spectacular?

And that's probably true, if you're the type of person who thinks its kosher for a company to throw a lavish Christmas party for its management the day after laying off 90 per cent of its staff.

Then again, this is U2. The biggest band on the planet, in case you havent heard. And, frankly, whatever irrevocable damage to the environment a giant, upside-down claw in the midst of an elaborate goliath of a live show causes, it's at least less annoying than some of the hot air frontman Bono has spewed into the atmosphere over the years.

Besides, the band promised to buy carbon offsets. They even hired a company to help. And thats almost as responsible as personally planting the 20,118 trees environmental activist Helen Roberts claimed were necessary to neutralize the tour.

The logic behind the scale and timing of such a production can be argued until Bono wears his patented shades to the grave after all, U2 certainly doesnt require it to fill seats.

But no one in the 60,000-strong crowd was debating the entertainment value added by it Wednesday night at BC Place.

7:00 p.m.

Forget Swine Flu, because more than a few dudes filing into BC place early to catch the Black Eyed Peas have Bono Fever. Symptoms include wearing tight t-shirts and sunglasses at night. Regardless, the stage - which resembles a giant alien ship - is ridiculously massive, the Pointed top almost touching BC Place's fabric roof. The stadium's not even half full yet and the Black Eyed Peas have just taken the stage, with will.i.am greeting the crowd with a drawn out "Vancooooooouver..."

7:30 p.m.

There's an army of dancers onstage dressed as robot/speaker hybrids and the whole thing is quite silly. The Black Eyed Peas don't sound too bad, but the cavern that is BC Place just isn't a hospitable evironment for musicians. They are making the most of it, however, and will.i.am is playing a keytar. A keytar! That's what I would play, if I was a musician. And the cowbell.

7:45 p.m.

Inherent acoustic challenges aside, Fergie sounds pretty good as she works her way through Big Girls Don't Cry. She's wearing some serious spikes on her feet and her disco-ball top is shimmering as she prances about the stage. The crowd is on its feet for the familar guitar riff behind Pump It. So far none of the Peas are utilizing the 360-degree ramp that wraps around the in-the-round setup. Perhaps it's reserved for Bono.

8:00 p.m.

Air-raid sirens signalled the driving bass behind Boom Boom Pow. Then will.i.am addressed the crowd with his auto-tune engaged: "I'm gonna miss this big-ass stage," he said. "I'm gonna miss these big-ass crowds." Then they blew the roof off the joint with their fitting, final song of the night, I Gotta Feeling, that really can't be described as anything less than a brilliant pop song. The seats were literally bouncing as the crowd - which is now filling most of the seats and the expansive floor - rocked out to the chorus.

8:45 p.m.

After the longest changeovers in concert history, U2 is minutes away from taking the stage and the excited crowd is doing the wave. I keep expecting to look down and see Crazy George running around on the floor. Hey, what ever happened to that guy? There's a veritable sea of people crammed onto the floor - which reminds me, I need to bust out the hand sanitizer.

9:00 p.m.

Not surprisingly, the Irish rockers kicked off the show with a trio of tracks from their latest release, No Line On the Horizon: Breathe, the decidedly un-U2-like Get On Your Boots and Magnificent. Bono, clad in traditional all-black and patented sunglasses, is basking in stadium love and has already covered more square footage than any of the Peas. Why? Because he's Bono. Bono, by the way, is a tiny dude, and it's not just because I'm looking at him from another time zone. In fact, I think the Bono-to-stage-size ratio makes for a sublime metaphor for his off-stage body-to-ego ratio.

9:15 p.m.

Bono's utilizing the circular ramp! As is the Edge. As a matter of fact, they're singing Mysterious Ways at each other from inches away. It's a bit homo-erotic, actually. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Side-note: Larry Mullen has the most serene expression on his face when he drums. It's like he's knitting. If knitting was kick-ass.

9:30 p.m.

Bono and the band have the crowd hopping to Beautiful Day, and the boys are showing why they are widely considered to be the best band in the world. The crowd is singing along to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and, while they probably aren't going to find it in BC Place on this night, they certainly got what they came for: a superb stadium show executed expertly by bonefied rock verterans.

9:45 p.m.

Every time I hear No Line On the Horizon I get Coldplay's Yellow spinning through the syrup of my scattered wits. It's very disconcerting. Anyway, the band bridged right into a raucous version of Elevation that has the guy in front of me snapping so vigorously I'm afraid he's going to snap his fingerprints right from his digits. Oh, snap!

10 p.m.

Oddly enough, many in the crowd are beginning to sit back down in their seats. I think this might be a reflection of the crowd's age rather than a slight against the band's last two songs, Unkown Caller and Until the End of the World. The circular LCD screen over the stage just extended downwards and now resembles the funnel of a tornado. Pretty cool.

10:15 p.m.

Bono just yanked a little girl from the crowd and dragged her around the circular ramp, getting down on one knee and singing to her. Honestly, he didn't have to kneel, they were almost the same height. Stop the presses! Bono just gave her his shades! In other news, she's since adopted Africa and freed Tibet, all before the end of Vertigo. Very impressive.

10:30 p.m.

The boys finished off the main set with the politically charged classic, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Walk On/You'll Never Walk Alone. Then, after the band left the stage, it was time for the most awesome display of glowing PDAs in the history of BC Place. The PDA love continued (to a lesser extent) through the band's seminal song of unity, One. Then, Bono sang a bit of Amazing Grace as a precursor to Where the Streets Have No Name, probably the band's best song in what is a lengthy catalogue of hits. And the place is rocking.

11:00 p.m.

U2 served up a trio of songs for the second encore: Ultraviolet, which featured Bono singing with glowing red steering wheel-type microphone dangling from above; With or Without You, which saw the steering wheel turn blue and had Bono hanging from it like a Cirque du Soleil performer before hanging his jacket on it and sending it up into the stage above; and, before Moment of Surrender, a Bono-led PDA love fest that easily trumped the one earlier. "Let's turn this place into the Milky Way," he said. And they did. Which was fitting, because for the majority of fans, the night was out of this world.

Now, about those carbon credits...

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on October 29, 2009 8:14 AM.

Free U2 Berlin concert tix gone in 3 hours was the previous entry in this blog.

U2 + YouTube = 10 million streams is the next entry in this blog.

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