Concert Review: Night One- U2 360 Tour Anaheim Stadium

U2 unloads their massive 360 Tour machine madness on an energetic crowd in Anaheim. Photo: JB Brookman

*Check back for many more photos and a review of Night 2 in Anaheim, coming soon!*

REVIEW BY ERIC PAULSEN

U2 orchestrated a solid show of songs spanning decades of albums and artistic phases to a capacity crowd that was as diverse as the band’s catalog of music in support of their album No Line on the Horizon at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California on Friday, June 17.

The band opened the night with “Even Better than The Real Thing,” a song that captures all of the essential elements that make U2 a great band and set the tone for a set that included many of the songs a concert-goer might expect, but contained  enough rare gems to hold the interest of longtime U2 followers.

So, while the band jammed out favorites like “Pride (In The Name of Love),” “Beautiful Day,” “Mysterious Ways,” and “Where The Streets Have No Name,” they avoided being the human jukebox of number one hits by highlighting less obvious, but equally as worthy songs such as “Miss Sarajevo” and “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.” It was great to see that the band allowed themselves the freedom to experiment with some of the more daring efforts of the mid to late ‘90s, blending a song like “Discotheque” with “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” even if the result wasn’t exactly stellar.

The band is clearly seasoned as performers and, having already played the lion’s share of the dates in the tour, there were moments where the songs almost seemed to play themselves, like the event would have somehow carried on even if the band themselves stopped playing.  In fact, some of the pre-sequenced elements of the show actually did play on through the band’s pause, adding to this feeling, sometimes to the point where it seemed there was a lack of spontaneity.

Still, there were so many great moments in the set and the staging and lighting, looking massively arachnid, mostly added to the band’s ability to overwhelm a crowd that outnumbered them by roughly 50,000. The band has toured several times with a similar configuration where there is an inner stage that connects to an outer ring that allows them to be further into the crowd.

One of the highlights of the show was certainly the acoustic version of “Stay (Faraway, So Close!),” with only the Edge plucking out the essential melody and Bono singing what is arguably one of the most captivating U2 songs in terms of lyrics and melody.

The show was rescheduled from earlier in the tour when lead singer Bono experienced a back injury that required surgery. He thanked the crowd for their patience several times, an obvious reference to the wait people experienced from the time of the originally scheduled show.

The band invited longtime manager Paul McGuinness on stage to celebrate his birthday. Bono said that though McGuinness has been with the band since their beginning and has attended almost every U2 show there ever was, he had never shared the stage with the band. The crowd applauded McGuinness and sang Happy Birthday to him. Bono joked that without McGuinness things would have turned out very differently for the band, musing that Edge would have been city planner and he would have been a theater critic.

Lenny Kravitz, a respected and well-known artist in his own right, opened the night with a band line-up that included electric guitars, bass, drums, horns, organ and back-up singers. The entire band looked the rock and roll part, all clothing, instruments and accessories coordinating in black and gold. Kravitz is very much the performer. The band truly brought out the soul of every Kravitz hit and captured the essence of what makes concerts relevant to listeners and expressive as an artist.

U2 has about a dozen dates left in North America before closing out the 360 Degree Tour. More information regarding the band and the tour can be found at U2.com.

Bono- looking very much in Achtung Baby ERA form- sends waves of energy throughout an LA area crowd. Photo: JB Brookman

Lenny Kravitz slammed through a funk-infused rock set, opening for U2 in Anaheim. Photo: JB Brookman

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