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Old 05-17-2018, 02:38 PM   #1
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LA Forum (night 2) 5/16/18

Caught my 31st, U2 concert dating back to 1981 last night (LA Forum night 2). Almost exactly a year to the day from seeing them last year on their 2nd night of their Joshua Tree tour Rose Bowl stand. I have never seen a truly awful U2 show, and most of them have been really good to excellent concerts with a few I’d rank as in the top 10 shows I’ve ever seen.

However, last night’s show ranks at the very bottom of this long streak of shows I’ve seen from U2. It’s not really due to performance issues, Bono still sounds pretty solid in his late 50’s, the rest of the band still plays well even if the use of backing tracks and additional unseen live backing (under)stage to pad out songs including backing vocals is more prominent and sometimes distracting then ever these days. And to be fair, there were plenty of people happy with the show during and afterwords.

The stage production, much the same as in 2015’s IE arena tour although there’s some worthy new tricks this tour involving the huge suspended video screen that divides the arena floor down the middle. The sound was arguably better in the Forum last night versus the 2015 tour which imo, was over the threshold of being painfully loud at least on the floor. Last night, it loud but not painfully so, however the bass and drums seemed more muddy and boomy then I recall in 2015.

No, the basic problem with this show and the tour as it stands in general is the poorly paced setlist heavy with (imo) mostly mediocre songs from the last 2 studio albums, even more than usual pontificating from Bono (at times with a bullhorn, no less) and some arrangements of songs which in most cases absolutely guts them of whatever power and impact they had in previous performances or original album versions. I will readily admit I am no fan of the last two albums which certainly colors my opinion of the current shows and I can’t believe more than a couple songs if any from these two albums will make it into future tours.

The overall concept of the show is a near-Broadway style production vacillating between Bono’s somewhat abstract “Innocence and Experience” and the ham fisted lecturing of how America has apparently suddenly gone down the toilet since Trump won/stole (depending on one’s pov) the election. In the past, similar points were often succinctly addressed in the confines of vastly superior songs such as the visuals addressing growing European fascism in the 1993 Zooropa tour version of “Bullet The Blue Sky” or the opening run of Boy/October songs early in a typical Vertigo tour setlist. Now, audiences are hammered with a brace of new, mediocre songs and visuals making similar points in a much less elegant way.

Still, there were high points. The introduction into “Love Is All We Have Left” is poignant. When the band kicked into “I Will Follow” playing the song as basically the four guys who originally wrote and performed the song, the band and crowd lit up. That momentum carried through a somewhat rushed, out of time performances of All Because Of You and Beautiful Day (Edge barely had time to switch guitars between those songs). But once the set settled into a rather muddy sounding version of The Ocean with Bono awkwardly explaining the “Innocence” portion of the set, the air was out of the building and only briefly returned during Raised By Wolves and especially for Until The End Of The World for the first set. I will admit I was disappointed to not get Gloria or Red Flag Day. It used to be that 2nd or final shows of a multi-date stand would be the better nights, especially for U2 – that no longer seems to be the case.

Say what you will about burnout tracks Elevation and Vertigo, but the audience still gets into the songs which led off arguably the best part of the show in the 2nd half. Acrobat especially is a great performance of the song although the awkward McPhisto bit before the song needs a lot of fine tuning.

The acoustic version of You’re The Best Thing About Me ranks right up there with the current version of Sunday Bloody Sunday as the worst reimagining of one of their songs ever. Simply kills the song and while the acoustic version of Staring At The Sun is better, it’s still frankly boring to sit through.

Pride kicked off the “political” portion of the set with an extended bass and drums intro as Adam and Edge took stations on small risers on the floor at half court. Along with footage of rioting and protests from the last few years featuring much KKK footage, Bono blairs about “This is not America!” through his megaphone. This led to the absolutely cringe-worthy posturing/lecturing of “Get Out Of Your Own Way” and “American Soul.” This was Bono/U2 at their most insufferable. Nice of them to hang a gigantic American Flag blocking off the view of the entire section behind the stage while Bono yells at the audience to “Stand up for America.” Honestly, a song like City Of Blinding Lights as the single big “classic” upbeat encore rocker is never going to come close to Where The Streets Have No Name and comes up short, too little, too late. Many in the audience were streaming out in droves after City Of Blinding Lights, many thinking the show was over or just getting a head start on the traffic getting out of Inglewood. I will say I (and apparently Bono) was surprised at the audience carrying the chorus of “Love Is Bigger~” at the end of the song. After the true finale of the show after closing song “13,” the remaining crowd response was subdued confusion (“that’s it?!?”).

The show seemed pretty close to if not completely sold out by 8:30. The band came on late (for them) around 8:45. The vibe in the audience (even for notoriously stoic LA crowds) was very different from every previous U2 concert I’ve ever seen. Sure, the absence of any Joshua Tree and many other big warhorse favorites had something to do with it but the show simply lacked the well-crafted buildup, peak and fulfilment of a typical U2 concert, something that could easily be addressed without negating the overall theme of this tour or falling back on the usual Joshua Tree/Achtung Baby crowd-pleasers.

After the whole U2.com fanclub/Verified Ticket fiasco and the disappointment from last night’s show, I will have to think long and hard before committing to seeing this band again.
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:29 PM   #2
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thanks for these words.

my enjoyment of both LA shows this week is obviously subjective and my u2 fandom is vastly different than yours due to a late start on the live experience although i have been listening to their studio output intermittently since joshua tree era. i only began seeing them in concert in 2009 after missing the 92 zootv giants stadium gig due to family drama - i was 14 at the time and parents were divorcing - and then having my interest in the band stray for over a decade before returning around the time of 360 tour due to a combination of promised spectacle (claw), pop culture curiosity and familiarity with the classics of their catalog.

i wholeheartedly agree with some of your points on last night as a whole, especially on the arrangements of songs eliciting a more muted reaction from the audience and lessening the overall sonic impact. playing the strings remix of lights of home after the overload of blackout early in the show is a head scratcher. cedarwood road, a standout of I+E, just doesn't have the bite that the versions from 3 years ago did, to my great disappointment although i am glad it remains in the setlist. the pairing of sbs/raised by wolves as a full retread especially with sbs in minimalist form is a misfire considering as of last night this was the 5th time i had seen this segment (caught 3 I+E shows) though raised by wolves amps up the energy considerably leading to the rousing UTEOTW set closer. earlier in the first half hearing Gloria and ABOY on alternate nights is fresh for me - they're not fully abandoning lesser played material from past albums even on a tour weighted heavily on the new. IWF is a burst of energy i have caught at nearly all the 9 shows i've seen since rose bowl 09 but i am not tired of it yet. it has that youthful exuberance that i'm happy they still put on display for the fans. was too bad to lose out on RFD last night, but as it was played night1 i'll hang my hat on that.

for the 2nd half i was standoffish to elevation/vertigo back to back on night1 as both songs seem to pander to an audience looking for accessible, challenge free music but by night 2 (my 40th birthday) i relented to the party atmosphere and relished it. fortunately the back catalog digging began soon thereafter and desire/acrobat duo just floored me. specifically acrobat and the theatricality of bono's devilish alter-ego was an apt lead-in for the polarizing real-life horror visuals during SATS. great presentation all around, unless you were only there for a good time. this tour, pride was well placed in the setlist but was missing a bit of the emotional resonance i had felt in past years.

to me, american soul was goosebump inducing on night1 though that drew down on night2. the song may seem contrived and overt on SOE but the oversized bombast worked brilliantly live. .02 of course. COBL has been thrust into a high profile slot it's not entirely deserving of but this is likely due to the pointed omission of JT material from this setlist. very glad i had seen JT30 last year or i'd have been quite miffed.

the triple encore is a mixed bag and irks me considerably when i see that WGRYWH was played opening night then dropped. i foolishly built myself up that it was going to be a regular appearance on the tour after following the rehearsals but this is a fitting reminder that nothing is owed or guaranteed. they went with an uptempo version of One that is totally unnecessary but is mildly enjoyable. i'm not entirely sold on love is bigger the way some other fans are but i do like the concept and execution of 13 (there is a light) as the final song with arena exit walk off.

like i said, i don't have the benefit of such a lengthy history with the band in live setting to contextualize this show against decades that preceded it. i can assess it for what it is while retaining the still fresh memories of JT30 to offset those missing songs. this was a unique thematic approach to the history of u2 and bringing us up to speed with state of the world, even if some of the messages were a bit rushed or muddled along the way. I recommend a single night for this tour if they're doing multiples, unless you're a completist (i tend to be) or serious die hard. knowing it will likely be a few years until i see them again and who knows what can happen between now and then i take advantage of opportunities when they're in front of me and i have the ability to do so. u2 played on my 40th birthday and it was a complex, multilayered technological feat of a show. i'm not a complete curmudgeon or overanalytical pessimist (not an accusation to the OP) - how could i not enjoy it?
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Old 05-17-2018, 05:03 PM   #3
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like i said, i don't have the benefit of such a lengthy history with the band in live setting to contextualize this show against decades that preceded it. i can assess it for what it is while retaining the still fresh memories of JT30 to offset those missing songs. this was a unique thematic approach to the history of u2 and bringing us up to speed with state of the world, even if some of the messages were a bit rushed or muddled along the way. I recommend a single night for this tour if they're doing multiples, unless you're a completist (i tend to be) or serious die hard. knowing it will likely be a few years until i see them again and who knows what can happen between now and then i take advantage of opportunities when they're in front of me and i have the ability to do so. u2 played on my 40th birthday and it was a complex, multilayered technological feat of a show. i'm not a complete curmudgeon or overanalytical pessimist (not an accusation to the OP) - how could i not enjoy it?
Well said. My viewpoint of this show and the tour(so far) in general is colored less by my tour history and more by my personal dislike of the last two albums and the general musical direction the band has taken the past decade. Also, my own musical tastes lean towards harder, more abrasive music which I'm sure has a bit to do with my lessening interest in U2's current work - so far the only two other shows I'm in for this year are Killing Joke and Nine Inch Nails/Jesus And Mary Chain.
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Old 05-17-2018, 06:16 PM   #4
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Agree very much with what was said about the ending of the show. Almost seems like it invites another song to truly finish the encore, until the house lights turn on and you realize it's actually the end. At SJ2 I was determined there was no way that was the end of the concert kind of a weird note (or song) to end on if you ask me.
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Old 05-17-2018, 07:10 PM   #5
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It's just so damn lethargic. One = slow burn. Love Is Bigger = slow burn. 13 = snooze time, lacking even the cheesy sing along aspect of LIB. It's just so weird, you can tell the energy just dies in the encore. Surely they recognize that!?

I think the main set is actually really damn good. A few bumps but overall very solid. That ending though... sheesh. Objectively bad.
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Old 05-18-2018, 05:24 PM   #6
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I agree with Partyslammers review. I have been a major fan for over three decades. As U2 and I are the same age, it feels as if U2 has written the soundtrack for my life. I was very disappointed in LA1. I stood on the floor, near the middle of the screen, and watched a pretty lifeless show. I went home disappointed. The next night (LA2) I was next to the B stage. It was a totally different vibe. Acrobat was freaking great. It saved the show. But overall, LA2 was pretty lackluster.

Overall, the tour is a great concept, but like has been said, they have gotten away from the formula. Too many average new songs to really carry the show. I don’t want to critique the greatest band in the world that has meant so much to me, but when your charging 350 bucks a seat and now your managed by Guy Oseari, (who doesn’t understand that U2 fans are a tribe and not a way to makebunch of cash off of) YOU BETTER BRING THE HITS.

Although the tech stuff is innovative and great nobody is going to pay that to watch a video screen. I can do that at home. Like when they opened the Elevation Tour and came out from behind the tech stuff to reveal their true selves, they need to use the tech stuff as a tool, not a replacement for the show. I come to their shows to feed off the energy of others and for my soul to be “elevated” by the band. This go round...not really happening...and we are really trying...

I wish the band or their reps read these posts. The world needs their music. Stick to the formula you have been using for decades.
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Old 05-18-2018, 06:58 PM   #7
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I was at both LA shows. I know PartySlammer and I have seen many of the same shows over the years after comparing showlists over at SHF.

I will set my review up as I think the 2015 shows were some of the best I've ever seen. (And I've seen at least 2 shows from every tour since '83) I think SOI is one of their strongest albums (probably ranked in the top 5 or so) so that certainly paints my view of that tour.

If this album/tour had quickly followed the end of the I&E tour, similar to Zooropa, then the Euro/AZ/Asia leg of ZooTV, I would be more forgiving. However, they delayed the album, went on a massive "greatest album" tour packing stadiums, then returned to the album, and I feel that there is quite a bit of U2 fatigue. They "sold out" 5 nights in LA in 2015, had two "sold out" Rose Bowl shows in 2017 (+ a San Diego Stadium), then came back in the first half of 2018 and struggled to fill two nights at the Forum.

To repeat a major "theme/section" of the show (innocence) is just lazy. SOE is nowhere near the album that SOI is. (Sorry, song against song, I can pick better songs off SOI everytime) While the eStage section of this tour might win out, at least we got more rotation there in 2015. From the eStage section it goes downhill. While I don't completely hate the Get Out Of Your Own Way / American Soul section, COBL should be given a rest. It wasn't that great in 2005, let alone now. Then we start off the encore with One, which again should be given a rest. Or switch up those final three and it might work, Love is Bigger, 13, One...or 13, One, Love is Bigger. Something. It just slowly dies and while I love the downer ending U2 can pull of (40, LIB, even Moment of Surrender), this doesn't work well.

I saw 2, which was probably 1 too many, but I couldn't do just one night in a city with 2 shows.

That's it for me.



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Old 05-19-2018, 04:08 PM   #8
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I nearly skipped this tour since I am in Seattle. However, I have tons of friends in LA so it was an excuse to go down. Regardless, I'm glad I made the effort as it was a great show. This was my 22nd show going back to 1992. I went to LA 1 and enjoyed it immensely and thought the crowd around me was into it. I had obstructed view tickets about 13 rows up from the floor at the end of the b-stage, directly perpendicular to the long stage. The face value was $105 including fees so not a bad price. Regardless, the obstructed view did not diminish my experience and I had a great view of the b-stage. Overall, of my 22 shows I thought it was one of the better ones. I was glad not to see all the war horse songs such as Streets, Found, Bullet, WOWY etc. Would've liked to hear Out of Control vs. I Will Follow but glad to hear Gloria again. Anyway, each unto his or her own. We are all different and experience things differently. Having said that, I am happy with seeing just the one show and will look forward to the next tour (which I assume will go back to the regular 4-5 year interval).
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Old 05-19-2018, 04:19 PM   #9
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Glad someone had something good to say about it. Night two was awesome, IMO, and this thread was depressing me.
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Old 05-19-2018, 04:34 PM   #10
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Glad someone had something good to say about it. Night two was awesome, IMO, and this thread was depressing me.
Yeah, I was actually surprised by the negative reviews. Well, it's just like anything you buy on Amazon or see on Yelp. Not matter what the product or service is, there are always people who either love it, are ambivalent or hate it. You just can't be swayed by one or two reviews. "The danger of a single story." as they say.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:43 AM   #11
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I don't want to say it was bad, heck it's a U2 show and they are always decent. But I do think they aren't as good as 2015, and that is more my reflection of SOE vs SOI.

Still, a night with U2 is better than many other things!
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:09 AM   #12
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Damn, reading these negative reviews... Then I watch the two videos posted and im soooo jealous they aren't coming to Vancouver. I like the groove thing I hear. U2 were never zeppelin, the Beatles, Floyd etc... I'm a huge fan, but imo they were never "elite" musically. However, you get a damn good band and some quality theatre at a gig.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:14 PM   #13
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Damn, reading these negative reviews... Then I watch the two videos posted and im soooo jealous they aren't coming to Vancouver. I like the groove thing I hear. U2 were never zeppelin, the Beatles, Floyd etc... I'm a huge fan, but imo they were never "elite" musically. However, you get a damn good band and some quality theatre at a gig. ������
I disagree, at least from the standpoint of live acts. The Beatles stopped playing live just as they were reaching a creative peak and honestly, mostly due to the primitive conditions playing live in the mid-60's, sounded awful, especially in a stadium.

Led Zeppelin were a monster live band in the first half of their career, but they had a lot of bad shows mixed in the good ones from about '75 onwards. And a 15 minute drum solo and guitar solo even by greats such as Bonham and Page is still self-indulgent drum and guitar solos.

Pink Floyd at their peak in the mid to late 70's was as much about the stage production as U2 has been but objectively, U2 has many far better songs that actually engage an audience. And I'll take Bono and all his occasional faults over cranky bastard Roger Waters any day of the week.

U2, like any band with a long history has it's peaks and valleys. When I whine about the current tour, I'm comparing it to what the band has done in the past and what I can see looking beneath the surface what they are still capable of, especially live.
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:35 PM   #14
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The way you're criticizing some of the generally regarded best bands of all time, U2 doesn't have a chance!

I also think your assessments are way off. Floyd not engaging audiences? Ha! Jimmy page solos self
indulgent? Perhaps, but epic nevertheless. Its quite silly to compare Bono to Plant or Edge to Page or Gilmour. love Larry but he's no Bonham, or even Ringo. Let's cut the bs.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:10 PM   #15
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The way you're criticizing some of the generally regarded best bands of all time, U2 doesn't have a chance!

I also think your assessments are way off. Floyd not engaging audiences? Ha! Jimmy page solos self
indulgent? Perhaps, but epic nevertheless. Its quite silly to compare Bono to Plant or Edge to Page or Gilmour. love Larry but he's no Bonham, or even Ringo. Let's cut the bs.
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