Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: U2/Muse in DC - 9/29

On Tuessday September 29th I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to see U2 in concert. Muse was the opening act. I am not a huge U2 fan. I only own their 1980-90 greatest hits album. It has been VERY recently that I've gotten down which one is Adam Clayton and which one is Larry Mullen. I even skip their songs a lot when they come on the radio or my shuffled playlist.

I have been trying to see them for 10 years though. I have always tried to avoid spending the money it would cost to see them. I didn't want to join the fanclub to get in on the presale and I wouldn't fork it over on eBay. This time though I sucked it up and pulled the trigger. $50 for the fanclub membership, $95 face value of ticket, $30 in other fees added to the ticket, gas to the show, etc...I estimate the evening cost me $200. I went by myself.

It was worth every penny. The experience is something I will never forget because U2 has such mystique. These 4 guys started a band when they were in high school and here we are....almost 35 years later still seeing those same 4 guys play.

The concert itself was about what I expected. I try not to hype stuff up too much because...I'll be disappointed.

The stage setup is getting a lot of press because it is insane. Ridiculously insane
Seeing that in person is pretty incredible. Humbling really. I knew where a lot of my $200 had gone.

When the lights went out the place got up and cheered but it wasn't nearly as deafening as I expected and when U2 hit the stage it was one of the most anticlimactic moments of any concert I'd been to. I don't know what I was expecting and the lame DC crowd wasn't helping. Seriously. 80,000 people never sounded so underwhelming.

The setlist was fine. I actually REALLY enjoyed their newer stuff. They seemed to enjoy playing it too. "Breathe" and "I'll Go Crazy" especially. Though when the opening riff to "Mysterious Ways" rang out it was exhilarating. They played a lot of the oldies too. "One" was especially well received. Edge and Bono played an acoustic version of "Stuck In a Moment" that really was moving (especially Edge's falsetto part at the end). Those guys have a really beautiful friendship. Before "Sunday Bloody Sunday" they showed a video that talked about Iran and Democracy there. It really hit me when they would sing "How long must we sing this song? How loooong?" and realizing they have been singing it for 25 years and will perhaps ALWAY have to sing it. Moving

The sound in the venue was alright. I haven't been to a stadium show since my parents took me to see the Rolling Stones in '94 so I'm kinda of used to being beaten down by the sound at clubs and arenas. Bono's voice sounded much better than I expected and Edge and Larry harmonize very well (I didn't even know the drummer sang!). It was kind of hard to understand anything that was plainspoken though. Oh well.

The stage was beautiful to look at but felt underutilized. Seeing what Muse did with the lights and video screen I really thought U2 would take it to the next level but they didn't. The whole "360" aspect was not taken advantage of. They barely played to their back side and the really didn't use the outer ring of the stage much at all.

The Crowd....I'll just say this. Bono is an activist and he makes as much news for DATA, the One Campaign, and Red as he does with his music. Hell, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize wasn't he? He talks about this stuff. He's ALWAYS talked about this stuff. Here he is 20 years ago (go to 3:40 to hear him slay the crowd).

So I was shocked when in the middle of talking about how much the US has done to help millions of people with AIDS in Africa I heard this shouted from behind me: "Stop with the politics!! Sing a song!!" Really? You thought BONO wasn't going to mention anything about social issues? It's BONO! I was seriously shocked. He was apolitical. He thanked George W Bush & dedicated a song to Ted Kennedy. Blew my mind. What were they expecting?

Opening Act: Muse was pretty good but for some reason they grated on me and the more I think about their performance the less I like it. It was completely emotionless and heartless. I loved every song they did was almost too perfect. Like robots or something. The singer really loved the sound of his singing voice and the bass player left no space between his notes. It reminded me of when I saw Journey a few years back. I go "Yeah, I recognize this song!" and then would get tired of it very quickly. The drummer was incredible though. Such a natural sense of rythym. Kept the beat, kept it interesting, and never got excessive. Oh well, I will admit when it comes to opening in stadiums for the world's biggest band they are actually a great choice. I just thought they had no heart or meaning.

Verdict: Everyone should see U2 once in their life. I might see them again. I really wish I had another show of theirs to compare it to but I don't (especially since they played 30 miles from my house in '97 with openers rage against the machine). It definitely sparked an intense interest in them since then for me. I had a great time and I think everyone with an open mind would too. Though I do wonder how much this would have cost without the gigantic glowing space crab that cost a reported $40 million to build.