October the 7th, 2018. It's been only 14 months since U2 played in Amsterdam as part of their Joshua Tree tour. Their studio reputation, damaged by 2014's Songs of Innocence, was fully repaired in The Netherlands with a great new album that was well received by Dutch critics. Yet, in terms of live performances, the band never lost their credibility as the Dutch press has always been praising U2 for their live shows. Last night, U2 blew away their audience with a stunning first night in Amsterdam.
The Blackout kicks in together with overwhelming video content presented on the big screen in the middle of the arena. Directly following the beautiful Lights of Home, "There is more": I Will Follow, Gloria, Beautiful Day.
The first thing Bono said after the opening songs of the show was: "The sun is shining. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The sun is shining in Amsterdam!".
Bono had clearly recovered from his loss of voice in Berlin a few weeks earlier. He also looked fresh and energized. The frontman talked about their innocence when they started their career here in Amsterdam at the Melkweg:
"Tonight we return as men daring to believe that at the far end of experience with some wisdom and good company we can again recover that innocence that we had when we came here to the Melkweg in the port of Amsterdam".
Excellent acoustics in the Ziggo Dome
Luckily the Johan Cruijf Stadium with its poor sound was not included as the venue during the eXPERIENCE & iNNOCENCE tour. This time the Ziggo Dome was the recipient for U2. It felt like three years ago, when the band played in the same venue with exactly the same stage concept. As always, people had been waiting in front of the entrance the whole night and day, as U2 playing in the Netherlands is always a big thing. The perfect acoustics in the venue also proved to us that Bono sometimes found it hard to sing in tune during Summer of Love. Also, a few small mistakes from Edge during Stay were directly heard by the audience.
One of the highlights during the show was Acrobat. Finally after years of waiting and requests by fans, they played the song tonight. The band seemed to have figured out how to play the song live and it sounded better than expected with a positive response from the audience. Aside from Acrobat, they played lots of songs from Achtung Baby. Tonight, Bono's speeches were also often about that intense period at Hansa Studios in Berlin. Simply put, it shaped the band to how we know it today.
U2's special relationship with the Dutch
11 minutes. That's the travel distance from the Amstel Hotel to the event venue. Hundreds of fans who were waiting around the hotel weren't disappointed this weekend. The band always took the time to talk with their Dutch audience. U2's special relationship with the Netherlands derives from the very beginning of their career as it was one of the first countries where they got feet on the ground. Their first number one hit (I Will Follow) was performed in the Netherlands. Furthermore, they have a lot of friends here such as photographer Anton Corbijn and Mabel Wisse Smit. Back in 1980, the band played its very first gig in Holland at the Melkweg. Since then, these four Irish lads have never left the hearts of the Dutch.
The best thing about U2
The very essence of U2 might be in the simple rock 'n' roll songs such as Elevation and Vertigo, which make the audience go crazy. But the disco version of Even Better Than the Real Thing shouldn't be underestimated. It was followed by a smooth and stripped down version of You're the Best Thing About Me. At the end of the song as Larry walked back to the main stage, Bono said: "See you Larrry Mullen Jr., the best thing about U2".
No Songs of Innocence, No Joshua Tree
Since their last tour was all about celebrating The Joshua Tree's 30th anniversary, tonight U2 didn't perform any songs from this album. Recently, they also seem to have dropped the Songs of Innocence songs from the setlist as well. This is quite surprising because Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence are closely related as companion albums (other albums such as No Line on the Horizon were skipped completely). Above all, the subject of mortality seemed to have played an important role when it came to tonight's setlist. For U2 fans it was great to see such a diversity of hits and other lesser known songs in the setlist during the show and throughout the whole tour. It's almost unbelievable which songs they played, but also which they didn't play. At least the Dutch people went home satisfied. The leaves are falling in the Netherlands. The sun is shining. U2 brought the autumn of love to Amsterdam.
Written by Jasper Bosman, Rather Music
Lights of Home
I Will Follow
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Even Better Than The Real Thing
You're The Best Thing About Me
Summer of Love
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Get Out Of Your Own Way
New Year's Day
City of Blinding Lights
Love Is Bigger Than Anything In It's Way
13 (There Is A Light)