March 30, 2011 - Estadio Unico de la Plata - Buenos Aires - U2 Feedback

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Old 03-30-2011, 11:05 PM   #1
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March 30, 2011 - Estadio Unico de la Plata - Buenos Aires

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Old 03-31-2011, 02:52 PM   #2
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I was behind the stage at the gig in La Plata last night, to see round two of what is for me a very perfect battle of the bands: U2 v Muse. Champion v challenger. Irish v English. It’s a perfect contest to watch as a fan of both groups.

I love Muse. They’re a spectacular live band. In Santiago they were very, very, good, but last night they cranked their too-short set up a few notches. Stockholm Syndrome is the most insane song ever played on the Claw. Listening to it being performed live is like being thumped relentlessly by a migraine headache trying to smash its way into your skull. It had me wanting to throw my arms out and plunge happily into the epic wall of twisted rock filth that Muse were churning out. Can I swear please? Fuckin beautiful.

Afterwards, I thought that U2 would really have to up their game to match Muse. They did. They picked up the white glove that Muse had noisily chucked at their feet, walked back ten paces, and then turned around to fight back with their own barrage. Bono was pumped up, and dragged the rest of the band with him. He had clearly shaken off the jetlag, hangover or whatever that had bugged a bit him in Santiago. And the Argentinean crowd were very partisan, and injected a huge dose of adrenalin, especially from the surprise new opener.

I suspected something new was up when I saw Dallas take a different guitar from usual out to Edge. Last night he was sporting a nice red n orange number. Space Oddity was back so I was expecting Stingray Guitar. The band walked out, but instead of their slow walk up the steps and across the back of the stage, they went into the underworld, and then did a 2009 Breathe-style, phased resurfacing to Even Better Than The Real Thing, which was a very big and fabulous surprise.

I loved the surprise, and it sounded like a cool new arrangement of the song (although Bono’s singing seemed quite muffled). But I didn’t like the song as an opener, probably because I was behind the stage. Previous opening songs have at least partly engaged fans behind the stage. From Bono’s little twirl during Breathe in 2009, then his parade around the catwalk during Stingray Guitar in 2010, and his brief venture out back during Beautiful Day this year, people behind the stage have always had some Bono-attention at the start of the concert. The first time Bono came out back last night was during Until The End Of The World – seven songs in. So when he finally popped past, he got an almighty roar.

The view out over the field from behind the stage was spectacular. It seemed like the entire field was jumping in unison to EBTTRT. I Will Follow caused an eruption, sending the stadium delirious. And the sight of the whole field swaying their arms to Mysterious Ways and pogoing to Elevation was also dazzling. South American fans may not understand the lyrics, so they express themselves in jumping around instead. Perhaps English-speaking countries still retain some ye olde English reserve. It seems like there’s far more than just oceans of water separating U2’s audiences in Australia and South Africa from South America.

It’s a new stadium, but there were old style football terraces with crush barriers behind the goals, and therefore the stage. People were sitting anywhere on the terraces, as there was no allocated seating. The entry to the terraces was from the back and top. Just before U2 came on, people were standing behind the fence at the top of the terraces. It was therefore difficult to see where the stairs were.

I stood at a spot at the back of the terrace, directly behind the stage, behind one other person. During Miss Sarajevo, I realised that there were people standing behind me. Clearly it had to be a cute doe-eyed girl, and her boyfriend. Being a lanky git, I moved back to allow them to move forward. I was then standing four rows back from the fence at the back of the terrace. I couldn’t see the stage nor the screen unless I stood on my tiptoes (and I’m around 6 foot 3 inches in my chunky trainers).

My view of the show pretty much ended then. I walked around the concourse behind the terraces and there were hundreds, possibly over a thousand people, standing four or five deep, and all straining for a glimpse of the stage or screen. Their exciting night out at the big U2 concert had turned into a frustrating evening of competing with each other for stolen glimpses of what was going on below them. We could hear the massive cheers, but had no idea what they were for.

Some fans had climbed up onto two little cabins selling Coke and hot dogs, at the back of the concourse. Others had clambered onto the lower parts of the giant metallic beams supporting the stadium roof. Many others had given up and were sitting behind the terraces looking very glum. I felt an odd mixture of sadness, frustration and anger. I really wanted to see the show but couldn’t, and I’ve been lucky to see quite a few. So I don’t know how all these people felt, being denied to take part in what we could all tell was a very fabulous concert.

I saw two people in wheelchairs (who would have had a great view from the top of the terrace) trying to find a spot. One guy with a prosthetic leg and crutches, was one of the first to leave after Moment Of Surrender, so I suspect he had been denied a seat. (Actually very, very few people were leaving during the encore and last song. They couldn’t see the stage, but they were going to stay till the end anyway.)

Some jobsworth police made the fans come down off the roofs of the little vending cabins. I couldn’t help thinking “Why don’t you spend more fucking time clearing the stairs so everyone can find a space to see the gig they’d paid for instead?” Other fans had climbed onto the scaffolding for the gantries for the spotlights positioned behind the stage. One very kind-hearted spotlight guy even allowed some fans to sit in the gantry beside him, whilst others were perched all around him.

So I missed seeing most of the show from City Of Blinding Lights onwards. I caught half of Sunday Bloody Sunday, and the band were still in full-power throttle. Before Streets, I climbed up onto a small space on one of those big equipment storing boxes that roadies push around. It was behind one of the spotlight platforms. I had one foot on the box, the other unsupported, and was holding on with one hand. It wasn’t particularly secure though so I jumped down during the song. (Strangely during the song, I turned around and yet again there was a cute girl, shorter than me, standing behind me on another box, lower down. They only do that when they want to steal my spot.)

I also missed seeing the encore, except for half of Moment Of Surrender. Bono went for a spontaneous walk across Edge’s bridge and around the catwalk stage during the song, which I found strangely exciting. “Where’s he off to? He doesn’t normally do that.” Bono’s stage position is very choreographed, down to individual parts of songs. There could be a fourth column on the setlist after ‘Bridge Position’ for ‘Bono Position’. His walk must have taken some of the crew by surprise too there wasn’t any light on Bono for part of it.

Anyway, enough whingy outrage. From what I saw of the first half, and heard of the second it was a great gig. Bono was fired up. And Larry seemed to be thumping his drums with even more gusto, perhaps after seeing Muse’s drummer in full flight. There was a fantastic shot of Larry smashing his way through his short solo during Streets on the video screen. Last night's big flub was a mix-up between Bono and Edge for North Star, but sure it’s pretty difficult to navigate with it down here in the southern hemisphere.

So I’ve now got a dilemma. I’ve got a ticket to Sunday’s gig too, but I’ve since found out that Boca Juniors are playing a match on Sunday evening in Buenos Aires. Before last night I was tempted to skip Sunday’s concert and go to the match instead. I’d really love to see Boca play again, the atmosphere in La Bombonera is even more passionate and nuts than at a U2 concert. However, after last night’s phenomenal battle of the bands, it’s going to be a *very* tough choice ...
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:09 PM   #3
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Dude, just get GA tickets from now on and stop fucking around in the cheap seats
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:24 PM   #4
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I would if I could. Economics innit. Two cheapie tix for the price of one GA, and then I can take my couchsurf host to the gig too. So concert and accomodation for $60 is alright.
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:55 PM   #5
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I would if I could. Economics innit. Two cheapie tix for the price of one GA, and then I can take my couchsurf host to the gig too. So concert and accomodation for $60 is alright.
i dont know what a "couchsurf host" is, but cant he/she buy their own tickets?

Seriously GA is the only way to go, especially in your circumstances.

And i have no idea what in the hell Boca Juniors are, so my vote is obviously going towards U2. Glad to see MUSE is a really good opening act.
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
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Hi Mrs Garrison

A couchsurf host is a person who will let me stay with them for free in their home (couchsurfing.com). They often provide meals and transport too. I like to repay their hospitality by taking them to the gig. They´re usually not U2 fans; only three out of my many hosts have had tickets to the gig in their city.

Boca Juniors are a football (soccer) team in Buenos Aires. I´m a footie fan and love to go to matches when I´m abroad. I´ve seen Boca play once before - it was almost a spiritual experience.

But U2 and Muse are also a strong draw
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:56 PM   #7
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i see, well its good of you to repay their hospitality then i suppose.
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:35 PM   #8
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So I’ve now got a dilemma. I’ve got a ticket to Sunday’s gig too, but I’ve since found out that Boca Juniors are playing a match on Sunday evening in Buenos Aires. Before last night I was tempted to skip Sunday’s concert and go to the match instead. I’d really love to see Boca play again, the atmosphere in La Bombonera is even more passionate and nuts than at a U2 concert. However, after last night’s phenomenal battle of the bands, it’s going to be a *very* tough choice ...
It's a ridiculously easy choice. Don't waste time watching that crap of a team! River Plate's the only decent team in this country even if right now we're trying to escape relegation.
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:26 PM   #9
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TAKE ME HIGHER
Wednesday night was the second time I got to see U2 live. A bit weird when you consider I have been a fan of this band for almost 30 years. My first show on the Vertigo tour almost exactly 5 years ago was an intensely emotional experience that took me to another place even if I saw the band from quite afar. This time, even if I was overexcited I knew I was capable of being more rational. Wednesday I did RZ on Edge's side and got a nice spot at the rail almost at the tip pointing towards the main GA field. The view of the stage and the band was great (naturally Adam was a bit far - but we did get him a couple of times close on the bridge and the catwalk). The caveat was obviously missing out on the claw visuals and perhaps not getting the feel of the whole stadium. This I think was also due to the half roof that covered all the seats area which gave the place a very different atmosphere than what we're used to at River or Vélez where traditionally all the concerts are held in Buenos Aires. It made the place look smaller than it actually is and the feel was proportional to that perceived size. 360 is definitely a show to attend more than once as to be able to get it all in. At least twice: one from outside the claw (seats, GA at the back) and one inside (pit, GA up front, RZ).

I got to the show at 4 pm which was the time gates were to be opened and since the RZ Will Call point was supposedly to open at 1 pm I predicted a quick pickup and get in. Wrong. I forgot tickets were being run by Ticketek, which is the most sickening company I know. I won't go into details. The only thing I will say is that the Will Call point opened at 3.30 pm (3.33 perhaps???) meaning there was a long queue to pick up the tickets and only two people to serve, who had to check each person's credit card, ID information, deal with off-the-norm situations and go through a pile of envelopes labeled with each ticket holder's name to find the correct one. No queue control which meant some queue jumping from the usual smart arses and hence lining up for one hour and a half under a blazing sun (a kid got sick) to pick up the ticket and bracelet and then queue for another half an hour to get in. It's useful to remember that we paid almost $400 (I mean US dollars) for each of these tickets so I think we deserved better treatment. Finally I managed to get in at 6 pm. The rail was naturally completely taken up but I made second row. But then us gals know how to wangle our way into what we want... so I finally ended up at my privileged spot at the rail.

At 8 sharp Muse was onstage and did a neat yet powerful 45 minutes set with an excellent sound quality. This point is to be noted since the audio at the beginning of U2's show was a bit fuzzy. (By GOYB old Joe got his act together and the sound was good, but never as clear). So at 9.30 when the clock on the screen was approaching "midnight" (or noon?) we were all set for frenzy. Since I hadn't been following rehearsals information I just expected BD as in the previous few shows, so when I heard the first bars of EBTTRT I was completely out of control - on fire - as we say here: prendida fuego What a fucking awesome opening! With no time to recover we rush into IWF and hell breaks loose. I thought my heart was about to give out to so much frenzied jumping and yelling (definitely NOT singing) the lyrics (note that I'm only a couple of years younger than Bono!). The opening was definitely a highlight of Wednesday''s performance.

Next we had GOYB which fortunately slid past quickly without much fuss and straight into Magnificent. As much as I love this one I think this slower-tempoed version is somewhat lacking and doesn't do the song any justice. I feel it needs some reworking to be performed live to its full potential. Perhaps a good remix could work better. After the tried and trusted MW off we go to stadium uplifter Elevation. I must admit that I like this one even if I hate the motives behind this type of song. Especially when right after it we get an awesome version of UTEOTW with Edge playing the blues right in front of me just a few feet away on the bridge!

Buenos Aires!!!! Palermo!!!! San Telmo!!!! SAN TELMO!!!?!!!?!! - OMG that's my neighbourhood! and a rather ridiculous band introduction playing with the names of local football players. Sometimes I wish Bono would stop embarrassing himself - U2 don't need to do this. Happy birthday to some friend who's in town led by Edge and on to the anthem ISHWILF. Acoustic version of North Star - most people in the stadium didn't know what it was. Nice albeit the mixup. End of first part of the show.

From this point on the show dives into a pit. Tour into lame city: BD, IALW, Vertigo, COBL. To the surprisingly mild enthusiasm BD awakened, IALW was only noticed because of the inevitable girl onstage. MS (Bono's voice was really good on this one - much better than in 2006) gives us a breath of fresh air but it can't haul this segment up on its own especially when buried in the middle of these four. This was also one of the rare moments we got Bono close. I feel he neglected our side a bit and though he was intense throughout the show I saw him a bit detached unlike Edge who was well into it even if he later hit the Walk In solo on another key. At this point some pumping up was needed and Vertigo did its job (I must admit I joined in) and when I hear Fez/BB I say to myself "phew we're through this", but no it was only a teaser to lead in to the unbearable COBL which had everyone but me jumping. Only nice thing about this one is the screen part.

Dance club time: Discotheque? No. DIGPFYCC? No. Lemon? No. Crazy (!). I didn't think much of the song originally but could tolerate it, but oh brother this remix is definitely horrid. It rips the song to pieces (which isn't a bad thing in itself coming to think of it) but this version really had me wincing and wondering what they were thinking. And this comes from someone who loves Zooropa, Pop and most of the remixes - I mean the good ones. Fortunately we are rescued by SBS but immediately we're shoved into snoreland: Walk On. Walk On??? Wasn't Aung San Suu Kyi released? Isn't the "rejoice" speech enough? Why the heck are we getting FOUR songs off ATYCLB (and none off TUF, Zooropa or Pop)???? Didn't we get a tour for that album called Elevation Tour or something like it? Where's Unknown Caller or No Line On the Horizon or the less likely (though I'd kill to hear it live) Cedars of Lebanon? Next tour perhaps. Or never. End of show. People content but not over the brim. Well, it's understandable when you decide to end the main set with Walk On of all songs! Proof is there was almost no chanting though everyone knew the band would be back anyway.

1st encore, the obvious, the expected, the beloved... One. "You ask me to enter but then you make me crawl". That line never fails to give me the goosebumps. Up next MOTD. Buenos Aires is stigmatised with this one. They've played it on every single tour here. The song's OK, we're sensitive to the issue, they've already made the point. It's unnecessary. Someone please tell them. Fortunately it was only a snippet to lead on to Streets... in La Plata, the city where the streets have no name....Simply epic.

But we knew there was more. Aliens whistle, Zoo baby...are we getting Ultraviolet????? This was the moment I had been waiting for since I heard UV was being played on this tour, though I suspected that with the addition of EBTTRT the odds were against the invisible light. Sadly my hunch came true. It's Batman's time. A rather flat version of a great song. Not really worth the swap. The letdown is even greater. Laser changes hue and the beautiful and immortal WOWY wraps around us to lead to the grand finale in the hands of that HUGE song, Moment of Surrender, the one that lets me know that U2 still have it and makes me want more.

In sum, a show that started out as a killer, fell somewhat flat in the middle due to a crappy setlist choice and ended in grandeur. I enjoyed it, saw the band close as I never dreamed I would, but I had this feeling that it could have been the show of my life (and believe me I have been to many) and fell short of it. I took me high but I needed U2 to take me higher.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:14 PM   #10
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thanks cathalmc and ultraviolet7 . . . great reviews and really entertaining reviews
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