Stuck in these U2 moments

As the battalion of roadies broke down the mammoth “Claw” stage late Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, we similarly cleared our minds about what we’d just witnessed. The sensory overload that was U2’s 360° Tour left us with these lasting impressions of what was unquestionably one of the most memorable rock concerts in Twin Cities history.

Singin’ in the rain

Bono has been compared to Dylan, Springsteen, the Pope. Add Gene Kelly to the list. Toting a U.S. flag umbrella, he relished singin’ in the rain. He and the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. were undaunted by the downpour, which gave the nearly 60,000 soaked fans a glorious feeling.

(Note from our electrician: The Edge and Clayton wouldn’t get electrocuted with 12-volt batteries on their wireless guitars, but there was a concern about the electric pickups on those instruments getting wet.)

“Hold Me” thrills me

The rather forgettable song “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” at the start of the second encore was brightened by the night’s most mesmerizing visual stunt. A lit steering wheel with a microphone in the middle hung from the rafters, to which Bono attached himself for several swings over the crowd while wearing a matching, Tron-like suit adorned with red lasers.

The stars are falling from the sky

U2 is always cutting-edge with its video work. This tour’s 360-degree cylindrical video screen — which expanded and contracted like an accordion — not only gave riveting live closeups but mesmerizing artsy visuals. The show felt like part planetarium, part space oddity, part religious experience.

“Streets” smart

Whatever the visual gimmickry, wherever the show, “Where the Streets Have No Name” is always the song that delivers on purely musical/visceral energy. That was proven again at the end of the first encore Saturday as the massive crowd was lit up singing along to every word.

A moment that sticks

The other pure-music moment was the acoustic “Stuck in a Moment That You Can’t Get Out Of,” which Bono dedicated to Amy Winehouse. It was just two voices and one acoustic guitar, holding the rapt attention of 60,000 in a rainy stadium.

Party for two – parties, that is

We’re not sure if they actually crossed the aisle to say hello, but we spotted both Sen. Al Franken and presidential candidate ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the “Round Room” VIP area. Maybe Bono should be mediating the White House vs. Majority Leadership budget deliberations.

Drinkin’ in the day

The no-booze policy at the U’s Bank had one noteworthy benefit: “It cut down on the lines at the men’s bathroom,” said concertgoer Duane Poehls of Ham Lake. And maybe encouraged the pot smoking. We could smell it all the way in the press box, high above the crowd.

Moment of surrender

Sensing the lone media representative in the room for his pre-concert meeting backstage with local Somali-American activists, the publicity-savvy Bono reached out to shake hands while speculating on the value of tying Riemenschneider to a tree so other media outlets would pay attention to Somalia’s deepening famine crisis. He’s so slick, the music critic committed to it.

The traffic is stuck and you’re not moving anywhere

The roads weren’t too bad before the show thanks to dispersed arrivals, but the mass exodus afterward led to major congestion. Concertgoers complained of two-hour waits for shuttle buses to the main off-site parking area (near the State Fairgrounds); one trio of fans had to walk to the West Bank to find a cab to take them to downtown Minneapolis. Those parked on campus were lucky to get out in an hour. U and city officials will have to do better next time.

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