On Friday night, Keri and I joined my sister and her husband, and 20,000+ other people at Philips Arena in Atlanta for the concert event of the year: U2’s Vertigo Tour. It was, as expected, a phenomenal sound and light experience. (Here’s a review.) The music soared. It was a nice mix of songs from their current album, How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb, and classic hits. Part of what makes U2 great is the fact that their music transcends eras – a song like “Pride (In the Name of Love”) sounds as at home on the radio today as it did in 1983. You don’t think of the Joshua Tree album aas 80’s music. It has a timeless quality to it.
The setlist was really good. I might have made one or two changes, but am not complaining. (I posted the setlist below.) I don’t think anyone else was complaining either. One of the cool aspects of a U2 show is being one of 20,000+ voices screaming “EL-E-VA-TION” or “In the naaaaame of love…” or any number of other songs.
As to the music itself, U2 predictably rocked out on newer songs like Vertigo and Elevation. Some of their most beloved classics soared – Sunday Bloody Sunday is always amazing live, and much the same could be said for Pride, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, etc. Those are iconic anthems that everyone knows and that Bono sings with great passion. The acoustic version of Stuck in a Moment… was fun and whimsical even. Perhaps the surprise of the night for me was the the fact that “Love and Peace or Else” just rocked and was one of the highlights of the night for me.
Bono played to the crowd some with a brief reprise of Georgia on My Mind which was much appreciated. He was, of course, a bit preachy here and there. The preachy segment of the show was a bit long, but I can live with it. Unlike most celebrities, when Bono takes to the metaphorical pulpit, you know that he is educated about the issues he is discussing and is really out there doing something about it. So “One” becomes a plea to join the One Campaign. Before the plug for the One campaign, Bono asked everyone to hold up their cell phones, perhaps a 21st century version of people waving cigarette lighters.
Finally, it was a great thrill for me to finally hear U2 play “40,” a song literally pulled from Psalm 40. As the crowd sang “How long…. to sing this song…” the members of the band walked off one by one, to great applause.
(By the way, our seats were decent, but I wish I had seats good enough to take these pictures! They are from the AJC story on the show. Here’s the view from our seats – its a bad image from a camera phone, but gives some idea of the really cool visual dimension of the show).