U2 lands at Gillette

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By Sean Muir
Staff Writer

Unlike AC/DC or Steve Miller Band, I was able to walk out of this concert with my voice intact. It’s more so because my mom did stress being enthusiastic, using my diaphragm and not my larynx. What can I say, I’ve just come back from a U2 experience.

This certain concert series, which had two shows (Sun, Sept. 20th and Mon, the 21st), was part of a highly anticipated tour, but not many suspected that it would be called the “360° Tour.”

They probably didn’t realize at first how fascinating the stage set-up would be either, and that is how it was. The stage was a group of two arcs up above, with a spire on the very top, and lights all around. I thought that the stage was actually going to spin, but “360” actually meant that the audience encircles the stage all the way around, and that there are shifting walkways between the stage and the circular runway, which the guys can use to travel around the stage fully.

Bono said Sunday night, “This stage is what we call our ‘Space Station’.” Hence, they “touched down” in Gillette for everyone’s listening pleasure.

I cannot speak for the second night, obviously, but one show of two can give me a sufficient idea. I was in an exciting setting, definitely; I could feel it entering Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro, MA that night. I had to get over the fact that I forgot binoculars once seated, but in the long run, it didn’t matter. My seat was close enough, not in the stage zone or “Red Zone” as they called it, but close enough. Just think of what those folks way too high up would give to be where I was sitting – the first row of sections.

Anyway, the warm-up band was another Irish band by the name of Snow Patrol. I am sure that many of you out there who follow U2 know that they originate from Ireland as well. As far back as the mid to late ‘70s, they’ve been filling the souls of those loyal, with enrapturing melody and verbal rhyme and reason.

I cannot say that the warm-up band was the greatest I’ve heard. Their tone was wonderful, but some of their instruments’ parts, like their drums, were too simple. Warm-up bands are usually like this.

I would give to them that they are musical entertainers, obviously meant to get you warmed up for the main attraction. They had more of a reaction than I thought they would, and the crowd seemed to appreciate them. Snow Patrol was also at a disadvantage of not being able to use many of the lights present on stage, but other than that, they should keep up their careers, building more onto them, one step at a time.

Next came the genuine article, the big deal, U2. It was an engaging way to open up a concert, with a verbal spiel or rap, more likely about amnesty and post-war experience, which is honestly what I took out of it. Then the scene started to get cooking, as they played a few new songs first, and then got into their older works.

What a lovable, joyful, and pleasurable scene, I thought to myself. I was fully satisfied by the fact that they played everything I was hoping they would. “Beautiful Day,” “Walk On,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “Vertigo” were all in the mix – the classics and then some.

The visual scene was unbelievable, with the most technical and complicated graphics set-up I’ve ever seen. The bonus effect of the smoke machines, before the lights went out to signal their coming, was an intriguing facet, somewhat like a spacecraft getting ready to take off, and then after that, touch back down.

Though, while the auditory energy and expression was present, the charisma of dance and choreography, if a specialty at all, was not quite present. I did expect a little more out of Bono’s moves and dance. However, I’m just kidding around, that’s not all Bono did, he still did move around.

There were also a few times where I noticed that there were fluctuations in musical balance, meaning that the guitar volume, for instance, was not always the same. To be more accurate, it had to be fixed after a few songs. Good, crisp guitar sound is key for having a high-energy and resonant concert.

One also should be able to tell if the bassist is playing his or her part well, then one would know that it’s there, kind of subtle, but there, present. Adam Clayton played his part as the bassist, and did some revolutions around the stage to boot, but the Edge had the downside of sound sometimes. Nevertheless, he got his sound up just in time for “Elevation,” I believe. In other words, he picked up on his moderate flaw on the earlier side of the show.

As for Bono, I thought his singing was right on track, crystal-clear voice, but again, there was just some minor dearth of physical energy, which is normally produced from that, what should be, true feeling of ecstasy within all the singer’s senses. Bono was fun and gave all of us a hopping good time, but he was a hair too reserved compared to how I pictured him beforehand, and I’ve seen other U2 concert footage before.

Larry Mullen Jr. drives the band for rhythmic and melodic success, and shows how fun drums can be. To spice up a drum kit part is to sprinkle that same spice all over the rest of the band and the concert scene.

For the record, Larry is just about in his fifties, and playing with arthritis in his back, so one should truly give him credit for that. My Dad has always told me that a drummer should follow the groove of a song first, and then get more complicated. I will say though that in “Get On Your Boots,” Larry’s snare drum hits were better enunciated than in the studio recording, and everyone was all over the place when the pleasantly intoxicating “Let me in the sound”- chant part of that song came around.

It wasn’t just the set that he played. In one part, he got down on Bongo drums, which totally mixed up the scene and introduced his appreciation for other forms of percussion. All in all, I say he gets his job done, but the part with the Bongos was his best.

Stay posted: I have a man by the name of Richard Thompson, coming up soon live in Boston, Oct. 4th. Also, be looking for photos and potentially video of U2 as well.

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