May 14, 2011 - Estadio Azteca - Mexico City, Mexico - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-15-2011, 05:10 AM   #1
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May 14, 2011 - Estadio Azteca - Mexico City, Mexico

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Old 05-15-2011, 01:51 PM   #2
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Qué espectáculo increíble! What an incredible show!

“Incredible, crazy people with a love of life” as Bono said last night at the end of the show.

It’s impossible to do a gig like last night’s justice in a rushed review. (I’m ticketless for tonight’s show, a familiar situation - it’s the last show I’m ticketless for until Anaheim 2. So I need to get down to the stadium to try to find me one. And I’m rather exhausted after only getting three hours kip cos I got up at 6:30am to watch Celtic not win the Scottish Premier League. Walk on Neil Lennon.)

I was down on the field last night, about two-thirds back on Adam’s side. There were 93,000 people at Wednesday’s show, and I thought it was the loudest audience I’d heard on this tour. Today’s newspaper here says there were 111,200 people at last night’s show. They may have saved the really loud fans for Saturday night (which was originally the first of the three gigs). I’m sure Joe O’H turned the music up to try to compete with the fans (boy and girls) screaming their faces off. My ears were ringing badly after the show even though I was wearing my earplugs. (It’s my own fault mind, I did take them out occasionally to wonder at the insane volume, I won’t make that mistake again tonight - if I get in.)

The first half of the show was a pounding sprint of rocky jump-arounds or raucous sing-a-longs, with the crowd responding noisily to every small incitement. Everyone roared for EBTTRT, but the stadium really exploded at the climax of Out Of Control, after Bono charmed the crowd during the little lull with some Spanish.

I don’t like this new Soweto Gospel Choir version of Magnificent. It’s gone from being my fav song in the show to one that I think is, well, quite poor. It seems to be all choruses, is more wishy-washy and, bizarrely, seems less joyful. Bono was standing at the back of the stage looking up and applauding the Tutu video snippets during the intro, but it was all downhill from there.

So Boots and Moment Of Surrender are the only two remaining ‘original’ songs from NLOTH in the show. And I don’t think Boots fits the mood of NLOTH anyway (I’ve deleted it from the album on my MP3 player, along with Stand Up Comedy and Crazy Tonight). So by this contorted line of reasoning, Moment of Surrender is the only survivor of NLOTH. And it’s missing a verse.

Actually, there are more verses being dropped in my fav songs. Bad lost a verse many years ago, Moment Of Surrender lost one in America in 2009, and now Zooropa and Magnificent have both lost verses. Perhaps U2 think a shorter song has more impact, or perhaps they need to shave some time off the show. Who knows. But I’d be a happier punter if they brought them all back. Release the verses!

Winge over, nobody else in the stadium let such pedantic matters bother them. Mysterious Ways, Elevation, UTEOTW (with some Sinatra snippets) all pushed the barometer up and up. Bono talked the Saturday night fiesta even higher before Still Haven’t Found with a rambling, but very funny and effective band intro speech based on Mexican footie players. The fans sent the mercury through the glass during the first verse.

There was an awkward moment afterwards when Bono said they were going to sing a song for the people who live over Mexico’s northern border, which raised a few half-hearted boos, but once Edge had changed guitar and started Stand By Me, it was right back into a happy sing-a-long. Bono said something about how the USA should close 9000 gun shops, although I may have misheard him.

Desire, and Stay were more massive communal singsongs, I was actually surprised how many fans knew all the words to Stay. Stay especially was very fab.

After the prolonged band-crowd love-in during the first half of the show, Zooropa is a severe jarring break. The band vanish, cocooned inside their honeycomb screen, and the song is a full-frontal, psychedelic aural assault, which leaves the audience to fend for themselves minus the band for five minutes. The video screen is screaming for some f*cked-up visuals, leaving it blank is like drinking a tequila cordial.

Right, gotta get a move on. Some random observations:

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Adam was busting out some new and quite ridiculous moves, like the unashamedly worst dancer at the primary school disco.

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Bono comically tried on an oversized sombrero during, er, I forget, maybe Mysterious Ways.

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As well as screaming, Mexicans also like to snog their faces off. There are randy couples all over the city, and there were plenty at the show. I even saw one couple manage to keep a passionate kiss going whilst walking through the crowd towards the end of the show.

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There may have been some screen probs. The pre-gig countdown vanished early. Some of the images looked a lot grainier (e.g the nodding faces in Crazy Tonight). And COBL didn’t have the explosion of colour it usually had, although it did have some new digital clock images towards the end.

- The crowd broke out a fabulous n loud “U2! U2!” chant during the encores.

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Apparently Snow Patrol gave Bono £4 for his birthday

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That Discotheque sample is such a tease, it needs to be played

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Was last night the most album-varied setlist? One song (or snippet) from every album except Unforgettable Fire? A career-spanning, all album-inclusive setlist could happen somewhere along the road.

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I was down outside the band’s hotel earlier in the day when Bono and Edge came out to meet the hundreds of screaming, hyper-excitable fans. There was pandemonium when Bono came out, as the crowd ran around the barriers and mobbed him. Some order was restored and Bono and Edge both gamely did a full circuit of the fans. I don’t know if their security has had to work so hard for a while.

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There is an incredible array of different (unofficial) merchandise being sold all around the stadium. Some of the T-shirt designs are very cool. I picked up a couple of U2 360 tour shot glasses at 10 pesos (60p) each.
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for your review..must have been an incredible concert!
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:41 PM   #4
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:52 PM   #5
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Old 05-21-2011, 03:47 PM   #6
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:32 AM   #7
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Old 05-25-2011, 12:01 PM   #8
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Mexico City. Show 3.

There are several factors that have to come together to produce truly great shows and it seems that Mexico City had the base elements needed to spark the fusion. As we well know, if you’ve got a Latin audience you’re well on the way to a great night out, but the sheer quantity of people in the building along with its architecture put this into another place altogether.

Azteca isn’t the smartest stadium on our planet and, as mentioned previously, has a single, narrow, serpentine load-in route of length and incline that would make the most hardened roadie want to go for a little lie down. However, the steep sides of the building are of such a height that they envelope our stage structure entirely, providing complete wrap-a-round seating in very close proximity to the field. I didn’t get a figure for Wednesday but on Saturday night U2 played to an audience of 108,800 people and tonight to 106,588. This isn’t the biggest single-show U2 audience of all time, that honour going to Regio Emilia in Italy on the PopMart tour which scored around 150,000. However, Regio was a flat-field site rather than being inside this cauldron of energy – not to mention that Mexico City gave us this experience three times over.

Everybody was aware, band, crew and audience alike, that something remarkable was happening here, especially on Saturday night, which was the first show that went on sale. It’s too hard to describe these things in words without falling into clichés, but suffice it so say that I was very glad to witness these shows. From the raging opening of Real Thing to the dazzling cell-phone star field of Moment of Surrender this was as close to a perfect ten as I think I’m likely to live to see.

Before the show last night I took a walk outside the stadium. In truth, I was looking for the bootleg merchandise village that inevitably accompanies a show in Mexico. Some of the stuff for sale is a trip (in 1992 I’ll never forget someone coming back with a ZooTV coffee table). However, I went out of the wrong exit and ended up wandering into a residential neighbourhood. It was swarming with people en route to the gig of course, and every other house had some kind of stall set up offering refreshments, cigarettes and the like, but it’s the closest I was likely to come on this trip to seeing how people live. The sun was sinking and I could hear the sound of Snow Patrol playing, away in the distance. The neighbourhood around Azteca is a little run down but I felt oddly comfortable as the feel of the place has something of San Francisco’s Mission district about it. I took a seat under a tree, on a bench made of a plank set on beer crates, and just soaked it all in for a while. People hanging out on their porches, guys sitting in cars, just life going on - all these people whose lives we brush past as our great touring machine rolls on. Eventually it got dark and Snow Patrol’s set came to an end, signalling that it was time to go and make the doughnuts. I strolled back to work, feeling like I’d been on day-release from the institution, but very glad for the brief look at the world outside.


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