Photos and review by Micah Gummel
Show photos HERE
U2 kicked off its U.S. leg of the iNNOCENCE+eXPERIENCE tour under arduous circumstances: a physically damaged lead singer and a record, Songs of Innocence, that sparked a backlash after it was distributed for free to 500 million people via iTunes in September. From those setbacks, the vulnerable band saw the opportunity to turn uncertainty into a platform to redefine its place in rock ‘n’ roll’s pantheon.
That it did, Friday night at the TD Garden Boston. The stage set-up was pretty astonishing. Well, at first glance you would not think so – as it was truly minimalistic (Don’t be fooled: the tour had a Fleet of 18 wheelers – my count was 19). Divided in to three platforms, an “I”-shaped one for “innocence,” a round one shaped like a lower-case “e” to represent “experience” and a walkway (called the divider stage) to signify the “passage from innocence to experience.” The general admission crowd filled in all around the two stages and the platform no matter where you were standing, This setup puts the band right in to the audience’s lap.
The concert was split into two sets with an intermission for the first time in their career Minimalstic part comes in the play when you see the setup, you see no speakers or stage props – just a small drum set and and a large light bulb hovering over the “main stage”. For this tour The band is also experimenting with a new sound system. Rather than having speakers set up at the stage, the group will suspend speaker arrays from the ceiling of arenas so everyone will be able to hear the music equally – making the sound “uniformly transparent.” The volume was truly constant throughout the arena.
The first part of the show was all about the band’s past. For a while, this looked like it would be the most unadorned production from U2 since they conquered the world with The Joshua Tree. Vertigo was mostly played under a single oversized light bulb, sent swinging to the rafters with a hard push from Bono. Each one of the songs were either very early entries in their catalog or newer songs that dealt with issues from the past. In doing this, the band really drove home something that got lost in the hand-wringing over the release of Songs of Innocence: The album is full of deep nostalgia and melancholy for a past they haven’t embraced since it was the present. Structuring the show that way was a great way get people to reconsider the album they forgotten about or with the newer fans never heard.
What came next wasn’t so much an intermission. As the band left the stage a video interlude that ran displaying a montage of 1970s punk icons like the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith and Devo talking and playing bits of their music. Perhaps showing the lost roots of U2’s connection to the punk scene in the early days, but it clearly remains close to their hearts.
They resumed the show with all four members playing “Invisible” on the catwalk, Larry on a mini stand-up drum kit. The energy dipped a bit because the song was unfamiliar to many and the group only faced half the crowd, but it picked right up again when they kicked into a fast “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” which concluded with the whole band moving to the B stage for the euphoric “You take me higher” coda. The vintage hits kept coming: a funky “Mysterious Ways” and then “Desire,” before a piano rose from the floor for a sing-along “The Sweetest Thing.”
The concert’s second half was loaded with the classic anthems: An inspired Pride (In the Name of Love), a soaring Angel of Harlem. Mysterious Ways was especially infectious. U2 paid tribute to the late, great B.B. King with the collaborative song When Love Comes to Town.In true U2 form with high-tech eye candy, wordless communion and sociopolitical sermons it wouldn’t be U2 if there weren’t some overreaching, but few bands that want it all manage to grasp so much
For U2, the show was in many ways the band’s way of reminding not only its fans, but also perhaps itself, who they are. Visuals, sound and sequencing synced up to tell a story, but it was a story built on emotionally involving songs presented with a minimum of fuss. U2 left fans awestruck on Friday night To say the iNNOCENCE+eXPERIENCE tour was a spectacle would be an understatement, as one of the world’s biggest band brought a visual and sonic experience that truly shook Boston like the shot heard round the world many years ago!
U2 Concert Photos
The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
The Electric Co.(with “Send In The Clowns” and… more )
Vertigo(with “Do You Remember Rock n’… more )
I Will Follow
Iris (Hold Me Close)
Song for Someone
Sunday Bloody Sunday(with “Johnny Comes Marching Home” snippet)
Raised by Wolves(with “Psalm 23” snippet)
Until the End of the World(with “Love And Peace Or Else” snippet)
Even Better Than the Real Thing
Mysterious Ways(with “Young Americans” snippet)
Every Breaking Wave(acoustic)
Bullet the Blue Sky(with “19” snippet)
Pride (In the Name of Love)(with “The Hands That Built America” segue)
Beautiful Day(with “Moment of Surrender” snippet)
Bad(with “Moment of Surrender” snippet
With or Without You(with “Shine Like Stars” coda)
City of Blinding Lights
Where the Streets Have No Name(with “Mother and Child… more )