First, let me just say Bono did not let me down. Good frick, what a show!
With the outdoor venue, I had been watching the weather forecast for days, and at times it looked iffy, but the U2 gods smiled down on us and it ended up being the most gorgeous day we’ve had all year.
We arrived a few hours early to get parking and find something to eat. Pulling into the parking lot at Qwest Field we saw this:
- Part of U2’s traveling set caravan.
and caught a glimpse of this:
- The mother ship has landed.
and knew we were in for something pretty spectacular.
Lenny Kravitz was scheduled for the opening act, and I was pleased with the idea–I like Lenny. But he turned out to be something to really get excited about. He came on about 7:40 pm, opening with Come On Get It, a single from his new album Black and White America scheduled to be released later this summer. It was a fantastic opener, really getting the crowd going. He really knows how to work the stage and the audience, and when he pulled out that cowbell, my Lenny love was sealed. (I leaned over to Chuck, “Lenny’s on the cowbell!”)
He was a gracious host, thanking the crowd for the warm reception in that smooth voice, “We’re so happy to be here. It’s beautiful. Thank you for being so kind to us.”
The rest of the seven song set list was composed of tried and true greatest hits, making Lenny a genuine crowd pleaser and a perfect appetizer to U2’s main course.
- I’ve got two words for Lenny: Sek. Say.
Lenny’s Seattle set list:
1. Come On Get It (from Black and White America to be released later this summer)
2. Always on the Run
3. It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
4. Let Love Rule
5. American Woman
6. Fly Away
7. Are You Gonna Go My Way
Lenny played for about 40 minutes, and then we waited for another 45, while U2’s crew set up for their show. While we waited they had some interesting world facts and trivia scrolling across their “mother ship” screens along with times around the world. (A few of the times were a half hour off from all the others. Anyone know what time zone that would be?)
- Some of the facts were quite eye-opening, which isn’t at all surprising coming from U2, a band whose name has almost become synonymous with political activism and social awareness.
At 9:05 pm, the opening strains to Space Oddity started, and we knew we were just moments away. The anticipation in the audience of 66,000+ fans was palpable, and when they walked out the ground seemed to shake with the thunder of applause and screams. They opened with Even Better Than the Real Thing, I Will Follow and Get on Your Boots, and right from the start I was completely satisfied that my $95 ticket was worth every penny. The staging was really just amazing, the digital screens fully enhancing the experience, and Bono was in perfect form. It was hard to believe that anyone could sound that good live.
Bono is magic.
The 24-song set list was an interesting and satisfying mix of old and new, and what I would have thought before to be perhaps less than favorites were just as enjoyable to me as their standards that everyone loves. After the seventh song, Until the End of the World, Bono paused to thank the crowd: “Thank you most of all for your patience. Some of you were 2 years younger when you first decided to do this.” And this is what really impressed me most about the entire experience—that U2 is a band that truly loves what they do, are passionate about their work and their fans, and that joy fully translates to their performance.
The Edge = Cool.
A neighbor of mine caught their Vertigo Tour a few years back, and had mixed feelings about it, saying they were good, but she thought Bono was “too political”. I had to laugh at the idea that anyone who claimed to be a fan of U2 wouldn’t automatically assume that some degree of political/social activism would be infused in their show. I personally appreciate that Bono and U2 have chosen to use their fame, power and influence to give a voice and platform to these kinds of issues. I think they accomplished that in this show without being too preachy. They gave us an opportunity to stop and think about something important beyond our little bubble in Seattle, while still making it about the music and showing us the time of our lives. And the theater of it all never made you doubt the sincerity.
And speaking of power and influence, the Seattle audience got a special introduction
to Beautiful Day that I’m not sure was common to all of the other audiences on the tour. NASA commander Mark Kelly made a special appearance, saying “Hello Seattle from the International Space Station”. He then held up a series of words that each floated away as he put up the next:
7 BILLION, ONE NATION, IMAGINATION, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY
Then quoting Major Tom, “Tell my wife I love her very much. She knows.”
U2’s Seattle set list (these links are all clips from the Seattle concert):
1. Even Better Than the Real Thing
2. I Will Follow
3. Get On Your Boots
5. Mysterious Ways/Norwegian Wood (snippet)
7. Until the End of the World/It’s the End of the World As We Know It (snippet)/Where Have All the Flowers Gone (snippet)
8. All I Want Is You
9. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
10. Beautiful Day/Space Oddity (snippet)
11. Pride (In the Name of Love)
12. Miss Sarajevo
14. City of Blinding Lights
16. I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight/Discotheque (snippet)/Life During Wartime (snippet)/Psycho Killer (snippet)
17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
19. Walk On/You’ll Never Walk Alone (snippet)
21. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (snippet)/Where the Streets Have No Name/All You Need Is Love (snippet)
22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
23. With or Without You
24. Moment of Surrender
At one point Bono said, “June 4 is a day you’re going to remember. A beautiful day.” And he was right.
As Chuck and I started to make our way out of the stadium after the 2 hour 20 min set, he said, “Well, I think I can say that is easily the best show I’ve ever seen.” He was right, too.