May 21, 2011 - Invesco Field - Denver, CO - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-22-2011, 01:00 AM   #1
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May 21, 2011 - Invesco Field - Denver, CO

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Old 05-22-2011, 03:57 PM   #2
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A fun, fascinating return to America last night, with a different perspective for me, and some new show elements.

This was the first of the shows that were rescheduled from 2010 because of Bono’s back surgery. Bono told the audience that “some of you were two years younger when you bought your tickets”. The immeasurably lovely Rosa told me during the day that she’d had her ticket for the Denver concert for 560 days. I’m sure for most fans it was more than well worth the wait.

The pent-up craving from US-based U2 fans was evident as it seemed that almost everyone that I met in America in 2009 had all come to opening night USA 2011. It was wonderful to catch up with many people who had travelled to Denver from all over the States to get their overdue U2 fix, especially the glamorously crazy New York and Los Angeles crews.

It’s bizarre how the only country in the world which prohibits fans from camping outside stadiums overnight before the show is ‘the land of the free’. Some fans started queuing the day before the show, but were moved on three times by three separate people who called themselves “head of stadium security”. There were pedantic explanations over exactly which part of the pavement near the stadium was public or private property, with an imaginary line even once being precisely drawn across. In the end, one of the fans who started the queue called the Denver police to clarify exactly which sidewalk fans would be permitted to sit on for 36 hours without breaking any regulations. It’s such a contrast to what happened at stadiums in Mexico, South Africa, Australia, South America and Europe, where the queues are not only permitted, but facilitated.

I was down in the pit for the first time this year (mega thanks to Alice for the ticket). Brad and I trailed a couple of helpful crowd-breakers through the inside of the pit’s perimeter rail during The Fray’s set. We stopped at a spot on Adam’s side around the 5 o’clock position about three rows in from the back rail, where we hoped we wouldn’t block anyone’s views (we’re both over six foot).

Unsurprisingly, the pit is the best place for a lanky git to see the show from, compared to the nosebleeds (I’m learning American), or the seats behind the stage, where I’d been for most of the Latin American shows I saw.

There was a good atmosphere in the pit around us, with many fans launching themselves into expressively enjoying the show. But there were quite a few statically observing arm-folders, mainly blokes. It seemed like anything more than a rhythmic nod of the head might be too much for them. Applause was eventually dragged out of most of them by the end of the show.

One measure of the difference between the atmosphere at the shows in Latin America and the show here in Denver was during Miss Sarajevo. When Bono sings “here she comes”, in Latin America the crowd would loudly sing back “oh oh”, whereas in Denver I didn’t hear the same response. Also, very many fans in Mexico knew the words to Stay, for example, and sang along. There were far fewer people singing along last night. But there was still a good atmosphere in the stadium, just not as nuttily frantic as south of the border.

The green n orange countdown clock didn’t appear before U2 hit the stage. Instead, the current time in cities around the world was rotated around the screen. And lots of eye-popping world facts were also displayed (“number of barrels of oil produced this year”, “amount spent on illegal drugs”, “births today”, “deaths today”, “number of Google searches”). These included “height of the 360 tour stage structure” which is clearly a misspelt anagram of ‘The Claw’.

I whinged after the La Plata shows about Even Better Than The Real Thing not being the most effective show opener. Anyone who has ever been in the pit to see it performed will profoundly disagree. It’s a fantastic, glitzy, boppy opener for fans down the front, it’s quite exciting and great fun. (But I still think its effect wears off quickly in further reaches of the stadium.)

The tinkering with songs continues. There was cool new flashing coloured “The future needs a big kiss” and “Let me in the sound” text on the screen at the start of and during Boots. I think there’s also a slightly longer intro too. It’s odd how I really love the dreamy, Balearic intro to Magnificent, but I’m still missing the old version of the song, although the band are still piling into it with the same old drive, especially Larry.

One of my favourite aspects of being down towards the centre of the pit is to be able to watch Larry up close. I loved watching him hammer several shades of sugar out of his kit during Magnificent, UTEOTW, Pride, Vertigo etc. Seeing Larry pound his drums so ferociously is one of the reasons that I never agree with some of the fans on the forums who claim that U2 sometimes “go through the motions” during a show, or “phone it in”.

And it’s also fab to see just how much Adam enjoys playing live, with his continual smiles, winks and nods to people in the audience, and his unique, dinky style of bopping around the stages.

UTEOTW was a big highlight last night. Bono dedicated it to the mad reverend who predicted the Rapture would be yesterday. He then proved that people were still firmly on the ground, and gravity still worked, by chucking loads of white roses out into the audience.

I tried the ‘keeping my eyes closed’ trick during All I Want Is You. I think the phrase ‘achingly beautiful’ was invented for this song. It's very powerful live. I think it’s also Edge’s best solo in the show. (Although I missed the Saturday night party atmosphere that Still Haven’t Found always catalyses.)

Bono made a heartfelt speech before AIWIY about his recovery from his back surgery a year ago, and then some hilarious band intros e.g. in a Broadway-topical blurb, Edge was introduced as a superhero bitten by a spider and turned into a nerd.

I was very excited when U2 played All I Want Is You, and Pride, as I believe last night’s show may have been the first 360 concert to include one song (or substantial snippet) from every album. Full career coverage is quite remarkable. The Discotheque snippet after Crazy Tonight was also even better down in the pit. They’ve just *got* to do the full segue, and play the full song. And play Please too.

Bono remembered Red Rocks at the start of Sunday Bloody Sunday, and said “her majesty at Croke Park ... beautiful” at the end. (The British army murdered fourteen people at Croke Park, the great symbol of Irish nationalism, on Bloody Sunday in 1920.) I completely agree. It was a great day for Ireland. In fact, I think she should go to Ireland far more often. I’d be very pleased if she could eventually make it to Derry some time for a pint of Guinness in the Bogside Inn.

Nick and I did the U2 pilgrimage up to Red Rocks on Thursday evening. There was a high school graduation starting when we arrived, with the school orchestra and choir warming up. It was a cold, dank, damp evening, with low-lying clouds smothering the hills, just like when U2 performed there in 1983. It was nostalgically weird walking around the amphitheatre, as watching Sunday Bloody Sunday from the Under A Blood Red Sky video is one of my earliest U2 memories. There was a lot of talk about that song, and that performance of that song was a big influence on my road to becoming a U2 obsessive teenager.

The Tutu speech has (finally) been replaced by a quietly inspirational speech by Aung San Suu Kyi to introduce One. It was my first time hearing her speak and I was surprised by her perfect English; it even sounded a little bit like Received Pronunciation (wot the Queen of England speaks). Bono was clearly very proud of the new video, introducing it as something he couldn’t have imagined possible two years previously. “Campaigning works” Bono said later.

Hold Me Thrill Me was another song much better seen from the pit, with Bono swinging out over the crowd. There is a stunning visual effect when the spotlights fighting through the thick dry-ice create ghostly triple shadows. Up to three wispy shadows appear like an ethereal aura around Bono and then quickly vanish as the smoke drifts away.

Before Moment of Surrender, Bono asked Dallas (the fifth most popular person on the U2 stage) to come up and take a bow in front of his home audience.

And then it was time to go and meet my Denver host Travis (who’s a punk fan) and hear his dazzled ravings about how incredible the show was. I love it when people (especially non-U2 fans) who have seen the show for the first time are so impressed. And rightly so.
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:17 PM   #3
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Damn, great review again, Cathal. You should write a book.

To be pedantically accurate, the GA queue was only moved once by stadium security because of liability concerns. The first move was done at the request of the hotel manager, whose driveway we were blocking. The second move was done by stadium security, saying that they didn't want to be responsible for fans on their property because they didn't have a full security staff on duty overnight. The third move was the morning of the show, where we were very calmly walked from the outer sidewalk into the stadium parking lot and reassembled.

The "land of the free" crack is noted. Blame the lawyers running amok in this country for curtailing that freedom. Private enterprises are deathly afraid of getting sued, so they resort to all sorts of unfriendly behavior that doesn't make sense at first glance. I wouldn't want a bunch of fans camping on my private grounds if I thought one of them might take me to court for some imagined injury sustained while my security crew was half-staffed.

Making us to sprint into the stadium when the gates open belies this caution, however. Why do they allow the most dangerous part of the GA queue experience to occur? I think that will all change after the first lawsuit for millions of dollars by some fan who falls down the stairs while running inside.

Hmm, that gives me an idea.....

Another difference between the US and elsewhere is that many stadia here are privately owned and can set their own rules (see above). Rice-Eccles stadium in Salt Lake City is owned by the local university, though, so it will be interesting to see how "free" they will allow us to be.
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:37 PM   #4
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The "land of the free" crack is noted. Blame the lawyers running amok in this country for curtailing that freedom. Private enterprises are deathly afraid of getting sued, so they resort to all sorts of unfriendly behavior that doesn't make sense at first glance. I wouldn't want a bunch of fans camping on my private grounds if I thought one of them might take me to court for some imagined injury sustained while my security crew was half-staffed.
exactly.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:05 PM   #5
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Another thoughtful review Cathal.


In less than a month, 2/3 of my U2 shows for 2011 will be over, and Cathal will still be chasing the claw...........lucky guy!
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Old 05-23-2011, 12:58 PM   #6
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Rice-Eccles stadium in Salt Lake City is owned by the local university, though, so it will be interesting to see how "free" they will allow us to be.
It'll be about the same as any other stadium in the US. I know that they don't care much about bringing cameras and stuff in. They do not allow alcohol on the premises though, so no beer runs during Miss Sarajevo! But mainly it'll be pretty much the same as anywhere else.

http://www.stadium.utah.edu/guest_info/stadium/u2.html
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Old 05-23-2011, 01:50 PM   #7
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I loved the show!! I love the city of Denver and this is my third concert there. I wish I could've physically been able to jump and dance around much more but the altitude was brutal on my lungs. I frequently ran out of breath just belting out the songs. I'm fit but I'm not from the area so my body was limited as to how much activity I could do. A woman near me ( near the outer rail, edge's side ) passed out. My friend who is from the area, told me she felt a little light headed whenever she'd jump.

I assume the majority of folks in attendance are from there but it seems like many in the pit were out of towners. Maybe that contributed to the mellow vibe at times? (not accustomed to the altitude?) I was "third row" from the outer rail and the folks in front of me didn't really jump or dance much at all.

That said, that factor didn't ruin the show for me at all. I was stunned at the new additions to the setlist , which in my opinion wipes the floor with the 2009 US setlists.I cannot wait for the shows in June!
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:28 PM   #8
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Review of U2's Denver Show

Check out the Listen Up Denver! review & photos of the U2 show at Invesco Field.

U2 – May 21st – Invesco Field
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Old 05-23-2011, 03:12 PM   #9
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I loved the show!! I love the city of Denver and this is my third concert there. I wish I could've physically been able to jump and dance around much more but the altitude was brutal on my lungs. I frequently ran out of breath just belting out the songs. I'm fit but I'm not from the area so my body was limited as to how much activity I could do. A woman near me ( near the outer rail, edge's side ) passed out. My friend who is from the area, told me she felt a little light headed whenever she'd jump.

I assume the majority of folks in attendance are from there but it seems like many in the pit were out of towners. Maybe that contributed to the mellow vibe at times? (not accustomed to the altitude?) I was "third row" from the outer rail and the folks in front of me didn't really jump or dance much at all.

That said, that factor didn't ruin the show for me at all. I was stunned at the new additions to the setlist , which in my opinion wipes the floor with the 2009 US setlists.I cannot wait for the shows in June!
From all accounts, the altitude didn't effect our "50 something" band members!! Wonder how they dealt with it?
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Old 05-23-2011, 03:17 PM   #10
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They're not human!

I do know that Mexico City is higher than Denver so having spent a week in Mexico City before Denver helped I'm sure. Still though, much credit to them for rocking out at 50-post major surgery. Amazing
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Old 05-23-2011, 03:21 PM   #11
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I was wondering how the out of town fans dealt with the altitude change.
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Old 05-23-2011, 03:50 PM   #12
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U2 Triumph At Denver's Unofficial End-Of-The-World Gig - Maximum Performance

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Old 05-23-2011, 03:56 PM   #13
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Hey, can anyone give me an estimate of about what time the band/crew were doing soundchecks the night before in Denver? Looking to head to the stadium in SLC to check it out and see if I can hear any soundchecks and get some pics/video.
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Old 05-23-2011, 04:13 PM   #14
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Very articulate review, Cathal! You remembered some of the stuffs that I remember, as well as additional things that I missed!

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Originally Posted by cathalmc View Post
The pent-up craving from US-based U2 fans was evident as it seemed that almost everyone that I met in America in 2009 had all come to opening night USA 2011.
Haha, you're quite right!

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Originally Posted by cathalmc View Post
One of my favourite aspects of being down towards the centre of the pit is to be able to watch Larry up close. I loved watching him hammer several shades of sugar out of his kit during Magnificent, UTEOTW, Pride, Vertigo etc.
I thought Larry really enjoyed himself that night. Got a few smiles out of him, and he was definitely not going through the motions. I think I stared at him about 30% of the time during the show. Larry is one of the reasons I prefer to be on the outer rail than the pit. Because on the pit rail I could not have a view of Larry at all. From my spot on the outer rail I had a perfect view of everyone onstage. Even when the bridges came together...

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I tried the ‘keeping my eyes closed’ trick during All I Want Is You. I think the phrase ‘achingly beautiful’ was invented for this song. It's very powerful live.
I was SOOO happy I finally heard that song live. Although I was sneaking around the stadium during the Netjets concert on Friday and heard it from outside the gates then... But nothing compares to watching that performed live on Saturday.

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I was very excited when U2 played All I Want Is You, and Pride, as I believe last night’s show may have been the first 360 concert to include one song (or substantial snippet) from every album. Full career coverage is quite remarkable. The Discotheque snippet after Crazy Tonight was also even better down in the pit. They’ve just *got* to do the full segue, and play the full song. And play Please too.
Someone else in my area mentioned that the band played a song from every album right after the concert ended. I thought that was awesome! And I loved the new Crazy/Discotheque/Please number!! I had found out about the Discotheque part of it prior to the show, but I wasn't expecting Please. So when Bono started singing the words, I squeed and cried and punched my railmate's left arm. Sorry about the bruise, Edge_Orchestra!

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Nick and I did the U2 pilgrimage up to Red Rocks on Thursday evening. There was a high school graduation starting when we arrived, with the school orchestra and choir warming up. It was a cold, dank, damp evening, with low-lying clouds smothering the hills, just like when U2 performed there in 1983.
I'm glad you guys went! Sorry I didn't get to text you until Friday. I was still trying to finalize my plans, and it helped that I was able to spot the GA line early on Friday to get my number. And then Nick encouraged me to sneak out of the GA line for a minute on Friday and drive up to the park. It was a gorgeous day, and we arrived right in between of graduation ceremonies, so we were able to go onstage and take pictures. Saw a few U2 fans there too.

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Making us to sprint into the stadium when the gates open belies this caution, however. Why do they allow the most dangerous part of the GA queue experience to occur?
^THIS! As annoyed as I was with Invesco Field security for throwing me and Margaret out while we were waiting peacefully for the band to arrive/leave on Thursday night, I was happy with the way they handled the GA line. Being #12 in the queue and led to the field with that yellow tape along with other giddy fans was pretty awesome. And after that it was a short run on the field to the outer rail.
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Old 05-23-2011, 04:13 PM   #15
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Hey, can anyone give me an estimate of about what time the band/crew were doing soundchecks the night before in Denver? Looking to head to the stadium in SLC to check it out and see if I can hear any soundchecks and get some pics/video.
They were doing some soundchecks Saturday afternoon, I'd say around 4. I can't speak to Friday, as I wasn't there.
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