Review: U2 at the Qwest Center, Omaha, Dec. 15, 2005* - U2 Feedback

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Old 12-18-2005, 09:29 PM   #1
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Review: U2 at the Qwest Center, Omaha, Dec. 15, 2005*

By Roland Schulte

Thursday-night entertainment can be hard to come by in the Midwest so when U2 and opening act Kanye West visited Omaha on December 15th, the evening had all the ingredients needed to produce the best Thursday ever recorded. To say the least, the show delivered from beginning to end.

Right off the bat, the individual award for best time ever may be awarded to one particular violin player belonging to the Grammy-nominated West's string section. The string section was tough to hear over his background tracks (which, by the way, are very un-string-section-like) but this girl made up for it with pure energy. It was like the angels of the best Soul Train dancers had taken over her body, and she was trying to out-do them, while playing a violin the whole time. That's what she did. This girl could (and should) sell tickets to her own show.

Violin players notwithstanding, West's opening set was among the best openers for a U2 show to date. I recall U2 shows in the '90s where other controversial acts like Public Enemy and the Rage Against the Machine filled the first slot. They were good, and revved everyone up per their job description, but they did not leave the same impression that Kanye West did. Kind of like a solo hip-hop version of U2—musical depth, spiritual depth, uncontrollable cool and the ability to move crowds of any shape and size.

Running a close second behind the violin player for best time ever had to be the girls in the audience pulled on stage by Bono during U2's set. The first girl plucked from the crowd was a young girl, Haley, brought onstage during "Sunday Bloody Sunday,” somewhere in the middle of the first set. She became the stand-in recipient of the legendary song for her generation, and even her country. "This is your song now,” said Bono, quite the honor at such a young age. Another girl (name unknown because I couldn't hear it over screaming fans) was brought onstage to dance during "Mysterious Ways" and "With or Without You.” She said it was her birthday to boot. That's got to rank up there for best birthday ever.

The members U2 seemed to be having a good time in the Midwest themselves, and were a bit more loose than some recent Vertigo shows I took in around the neighborhood (I have a big neighborhood that includes Chicago, Milwaukee and now Omaha). Bono took time during the evening to play a bit with the photographers, and was more conversational than usual. Conversation topics included the cold weather, Christmas party plans and the lack of Guinness in the Omaha area. Perhaps being in Warren Buffet's neighborhood made him more relaxed.

Highlights of U2's set included the rare addition of "Crumbs From Your Table.” Bono and Co. gracefully sailed right through this night's rendition, despite leaving out some of the lyrics. I don't know that many people noticed the omission, including the band itself. Another highlight was, as always, an unforgettable delivery of "Where the Streets Have no Name.” Goosebumps were felt all around. Shortly thereafter, "Until the End of the World" rounded out what could be (arguably) considered a U2 fanatic's dream set. Speaking of rounding out, Bono and Edge can make a person dizzy trying if they try to watch them run around the ellipse from the inside.

I have to submit my own honorable mention bid for best time ever for a Midwest Thursday. For whatever reason, early in the evening, one of the U2 working crew inexplicably offered me a wristband for the ellipse. Then this same guy lets me take my digital camera into the ellipse, where one of the professional photographers showed me how my digital camera was actually supposed to be operated. Mr. Photographer, wherever you are, thanks for the help. It worked.

Besides grabbing a few great photos, I got to experience a U2 show up close, which I hadn't had a chance to do before. Much has already been chronicled about the experience of a U2 show, especially up close, so I'll detour from trying to convey the feeling here. Other than to say you have to experience the show for yourself. It's like going to Disney World for the first time and all the good rides are open.

Somewhere in the middle of the Best Thursday Ever, Bono mentioned that U2 was sticking around Omaha for its Christmas party on Friday. I hope the Christmas celebration, and everyone else's, feels half as good as West's violin player felt that night.
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