May 11, 2011 - Estadio Azteca - Mexico City, MX - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-12-2011, 04:34 AM   #1
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May 11, 2011 - Estadio Azteca - Mexico City, MX

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Old 05-12-2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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(Spoiler warning! If you’re going to a show in the next few weeks, perhaps you should skip to the last paragraph.)

North America 2011 opening night left me elated, but worried. Elated cos it was a roof-storming, barn-raising show in front of the noisiest crowd; and worried that I’m gonna run out of words, analogies, or imagination if I hope to keep writing about shows like last night’s.

There were two stars of the show last night: the stadium, and the crowd. I’m usually wary of using BEST! superlatives to describe something that happened most recently, but Mexico City has the loudest crowds I’ve heard yet. They were screaming themselves deaf. My new Mexican amigo Viktor told me before the show that the crowd at a Mexico v USA World Cup qualifier match in the Estadio Azteca broke a record for volume. I wouldn’t need to see any proof after last night. Strangely, the pre-show Mexican wave was quite rubbish. Instead the crowd created a Mexican sound tsunami.

There were quite a few fans mind, in the towering immensity of the Aztec Stadium. The Rose Bowl could be a longer stadium point-to-point, and perhaps the Nou Camp is higher ground-to-tip, but the Aztec Stadium is big in every dimension (and including time now apparently). Viktor and I were in the back row at the top of the stadium, on Edge’s side, almost directly in line with the centre of the stage. And we were very high above the stage, almost looking across at the disco ball on top of the Claw’s central spike.

I’d been looking forward to some new setlist changes, with perhaps a fond adios to Boots, Crazy Tonight, and Walk One. But the setlist was similar to Sao Paulo, except for a new version of Magnificent.

Magnificent was always my favourite song in the show. I liked Magnificent because as a crappy ex-drummer I enjoyed mentally air-drumming Larry’s little fills on the high-hat, but mostly because I loved to feel the rib-pounding, four-to-the-floor bass drum thumping out from the subwoofers under the stage. I really like hard trance and techno music. I’d actually told a few chums that it would be great to make a psy-trance version of Magnificent, taking the bass guitar line, the hammond organ guitar line, and mixing them with an even harder and faster bass drum rhythm. (No vocals in this remix.) I’ve absolutely no idea how to make a psy-trance tune, but it would be a lot of fun learning and trying to psy-up Magnificent. So I didn’t like last night’s new mix. Larry watered down the rhythm into a groovier stop-start beat, which had me thinking, “No! No! No!” It was a bit like going from techno to disco, from heavy to light, from Muse to Snow Patrol. (I missed Snow Patrol’s set last night. Poor guys left the 360 tour in 2010 in Istanbul in the rain, and rejoined it in Mexico City in 2011 in the rain.)

Magnificent also had a lovely new synthy intro (which actually sounded quite trancey), alongside a new intro vid featuring Bishop Tutu. There were also new video effects during the song with a sparkly U2 looking like they’d been attacked by a swarm of fireflys, or were about to be beamed up. I was probably confused by all these changes cos I completely lost my place in the song, or maybe U2 also changed the verses around. Anyway, perhaps it’ll grow on me, but last night I was thinking “Can I have my Magnificent back please, Mister?”

The big highlight of the show for me was obviously the imperial Zooropa, which was absolutely show-stopping. It’s a glorious, mind-f*ck to have the stadium hypnotised by the screen-opening segue, and then bamboozled by having this warped, yabbering song hit them from a video screen. I love that U2 are completely hidden inside their own screen, cut off from their audience. There are some lush, weirdy psychedelic sound patterns lingering in the backing track which swirl around the stadium. It’s utterly beguiling.

However I don’t quite get the song’s production. The screen opens fully, but during the second half of the song it’s turned off, with only a minimalistic spotlight rhythmically flashing out from inside it. I guess it could be because they don’t want to steal any “Wow!” factor from the light show of City of Blinding Lights, but it seems a waste of the open screen to leave it blank; less is less, and all that.

There were some massive sing-alongs: Pride, Stuck, Still Haven’t Found, Miss Sarajevo. (Bono’s perfect nailing of the opera part was raucously received.) The crowd began singing Happy Birthday to Bono before Still Haven’t Found. Bono cut them short with a bow, then said that the Claw was actually a time machine, and the date was actually 10th May. Everyone roared, knowing what he meant, before he clarified that this meant it was still his birthday. Edge then led the noisy Happy Birthday verse instead.

Bono had some birthday bash hangover lyrical lapses, but sang fabulously, like he’d been given new lungs as gifts. (I think I remember reading somewhere that Bono injured his back the day after his birthday last year. His swinging on the steering wheel mic during Hold Me Thrill Me is a nice way to show off a recovery.)

There was an extended snippet of Discotheque at the end of Crazy Tonight. Edge started playing the riff so I thought they might play the full song, but it was just a tease. And Bono sang a verse of Please before Sunday Bloody Sunday. So the inexplicably ignored Pop is slowly sneaking its way into the set – at very long last.

If Zooropa was the main highlight, the show peaked for me last night during One, when it seemed that the whole, gorgeously lit-up stadium was passionately singing “love is a temple ... love a higher law”. It was such a beautiful, affecting moment. Witnessing moments like that is very special. (Viktor told me after that he had tears welling.) This was U2 at their stadium-engaging biggest, when distance from the stage becomes a benefit. I don’t think any other band on the planet (past or present) can create anything as personal, and as intense, on such a massive scale.

The show ended with Bono dedicating Moment of Surrender to those who have lost people in the gang violence in Mexico. A large flag was brought onstage at the very end. It looked like an Italian flag i.e. a Mexican flag missing the emblem in the middle of the white panel. Or perhaps it was an Ireland flag. Adam wrapped the other three band member up in it. The crowd hadn’t quite roared enough yet.

There was actually loads more happened last night but I gotta dash to meet someone, and I also gotta try to save some words for shows 2 and 3 (assuming I can get tickets ...)



So, an incredible, amazing, fantastic, all-new setlist with loads and loads of great new surprises!


(Shameless promotion: full ebook of ‘Me & U2’ is now FREE to download here.)
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Old 05-12-2011, 12:09 PM   #3
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Here are my pictures taking from the video I shot last night.
Images are only from the 1st half of the show because it takes time to do the captures and I am on vacation but i did shoot video of the whole show

U2 Azteca pictures may 11th
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:47 PM   #4
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nice pictures.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:43 AM   #5
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cathal mc does this mean this
 
more setlist change yet to come?how do u know this?
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:56 AM   #6
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I had no idea you where a trance/techno/electro dance fan cathal, that's awesome.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:40 AM   #7
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YouTube - Mexico City video clips in HD
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickoslo View Post
cathal mc does this mean this
 
more setlist change yet to come?how do u know this?
It was a bad joke cos I'm fussy about avoiding spoilers, and wrote a rambling blog about it last week. I guess / suspect there will be changes cos they have changed at least two (often more) songs on the setlist on every tour leg (except South Africa's mini leg).

What will they be? You'd need to ask someone who follows news of rehearsals
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:29 AM   #9
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I had no idea you where a trance/techno/electro dance fan cathal, that's awesome.
Not so much into electro tbh, can tolerate it when out and about for a while, but it gets a bit wussy and dull after an hour or so. I assume you're a fan yourself ...? Common territory at last
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:35 AM   #10
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Fantastic montage! Mind if I share it on my Facebook page please?
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:54 PM   #11
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I had no idea you where a trance/techno/electro dance fan cathal, that's awesome.
That's really awesome.. Cathal!
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:31 AM   #12
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Fantastic montage! Mind if I share it on my Facebook page please?
yeah thats fine
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathalmc

Not so much into electro tbh, can tolerate it when out and about for a while, but it gets a bit wussy and dull after an hour or so. I assume you're a fan yourself ...? Common territory at last
Yeah pretty huge fan. Do you know deadmau5?
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