U2 Opens Vertigo Tour with Homage to their 80's Origins (Review of Opening Night - U2 Vertigo Tour)
Anticipation was high as the lights dimmed at the San Diego Sports Arena and for the first time in nearly four years, the worlds biggest rock band took the stage to start another world tour. The crowd screamed as the bars to "City of Blinding Lights" from the band's latest release How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb filled the arena and the band walked on to their places. But wait? Where was Bono? He was already on the walkway halfway out in the middle of the arena! The crowd goes insane and the fun begins.
U2 went into nearly two hours of what was arguably a mix of greatest hits and fan favorites. Bono jokes about a spanish lesson in San Diego as he tears into the "Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce" opening of their runaway single "Vertigo". And later ad libs "Hello Hello, Im in a place called San Diego". Bono later tells the audience, "wanna go back to where it started first". And he shocks long time fans by playing three songs from their debut LP, Boy . "Electric Co" had not been played since 1987 and "An Cat Dub"h and "Into the Heart" had not been played live since 1984!
The rest of the show was a parade of hits from all eras and showcases. They also played "New Years Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from 1983's War, fan favorites "Bullet the Blue Sky", "Running to Stand Still" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" from their hugely popular 1987 lp, The Joshua Tree as well as the song that put them in the top 40, "Pride (in the name of Love)".
The majority of the crowd in the arena was excited and energetic, at times more so than the performers themselves. I would definitely say that this was a lackluster Bono. The stage design was very similiar to the Elevation tour, but really, who comes to a show for the stage design??? It's all about Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Larry. How did they perform amongst all the hoopla? They pulled it off, the person who was most impressive this night was clearly The Edge, whose backing vocals were critical and came in strong and timely. His guitar playing was blazingly hot and perfect. He rarely missed a note. The man is one of the most underrated living legends. Bono, simply by being Bono, got the crowd going but he was a little more distant than he has been in the past.
There were regular opening night guffaws. Vocals not coming when they should, guitar not turned up here or there but nothing one wouldn't expect for a first night on the tour.
The music from the new album played really well and sounded great, especially the surprising "Love and Peace or Else" that has Larry in the middle of the walkway in middle of arena playing a big bass drum. Later, Larry returns to his drum set and Bono takes over banging on the drum with a white bandana wrapped around his head. It is intense and awesome to see him just go off on that drum! "Miracle Drug" was also awesome.
When Bono began during an encore he said "Wow, San Diego turned out to be the right spot to kick this off" to a huge roar of approval. He tried to sell the audience on his ONE campaign for Africa numerous times. The final encore ended with a semi-acoustic version of "Yahweh" with Edge helping out on vocals that was surprisingly beautiful! It worked VERY WELL and then they played "40", the song from War that used to close their shows from in the 80s, last doing so on the Joshua Tree Tour.
It was a very 80s night for U2, with ten of the songs on the setlist coming from the 1980s, 3 from the 1990's (including a very rousing rendition of "Zoo Station"), 7 from the most recent release and only TWO ("Beautiful Day" and "Elevation") from 2000's hugely successful All That You Can't Leave Behind.
My biggest disappointments were that there was no "Walk On" and that I thinK I would have preferred an electric version of "Yahweh" and also the inclusion of "Crumbs from Your Table" from the latest release would have been nice too. It was an interesting set, at some times I felt like I was experincing FANS only treats and other times U2's Greatest Hits. Also "The Fly" was very mucky and hard to hear. Other than that, U2 pulled off another great show.
Was it a special show? I didn't feel the emotion and specialness that I have felt on previous shows and it was definitely not one of my favorites. However, it may have been my poor seats that left me feeling that way. I am sure if I had been on the floor, it would have felt alot different!
Regardless, it was still phenomenal to have been at the very first date on my favorite band's World Tour! That was the most special thing about this show. And 40 left me with chills!