This will be a short review because it is late, I am tired, I am wet, and I am annoyed (and, I will write a longer review for Montreal Night 2 tomorrow).
First, I will state the good things. U2 did a nice job tonight, although it did feel somewhat like a warm-up for night 2. Bono was his playful self, amusing the crowd with his ramblings in French (and English). He introduced the band as a mocking cover of British royalty, obviously in a tongue-in-cheek homage to the newly married royal couple’s visit to Canada. Larry is the bonny Prince William of U2. Adam is the Kate Winslet of the band, very attractive. Edge is the true Prince of Wales, and Bono is the royal Corgi dog.
The crowd ate up the most popular of U2’s hits. Pride (In The Name Of Love) got and extended chorus of “Oh, oh, oh ohs” even after Bono had finished singing. He bowed with an honest and humble, “Merci.” Vertigo had the whole of the field general admission (GA) bouncing. It takes a special song to get the majority of 40,000 people in the GA moving. Where The Streets Have No Name always is a crowd favorite (mine, too), and Montreal was no exception. Everyone around me was singing at the top of their lungs. What surprised me the most was the reception that Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me got. It was easily the best crowd reaction I’ve seen to it. U2’s performance was fine, but Montrealers loved it.
So how about the Montreal crowd? Save for a few very misguided individuals who decided to keep themselves hydrated in the afternoon heat with beer instead of water, they were wonderful. I cannot overstate how daunting it was to know that there would be 40,000 people on the field. I had visions of being crushed, trampled or simply just displaced by the sea of humanity, but nothing like that happened. It was completely the opposite in fact. I struggle to think of a time I have been around a more kind and respectful, yet exuberant crowd. Most people around me danced and sang and threw up their arms to the music, but I was never knocked or even encroached upon. Kudos Montreal! I am so glad I came to visit.
Now, I will sum up the bad of the things of the day. Regardless of how the GA line was started, when I arrived it was simply a mass of humanity, standing on dirt and gravel, baking in the sun. My group asked security if there was some semblance of order. There was not. This was in stark contrast to the gauntlet of vendors and commercial interests that had to be navigated in order to even get onto the Hippodrome’s grounds. It was becoming clear. An extra year of planning had given them the opportunity to plan how sell stuff to a captive audience. They had not planned for hot and dehydrated fans other than to offer to sell them lukewarm bottles of water for $4.50.
We stood in the line, very concerned about what an opening of the gates would bring: an uncontrolled stampede to the stadium or a well-ordered and contained release of fans section by section. It was a combination of both. Fortunately, my group was fine and together as we got to the field, but from what I understand, others did not fair as well.
The chaos and lack of planning at the beginning did not bode well for an orderly exit. Evenko had gone out of their way to assure concertgoers that all would be well even if there would be a long wait for the transit that would take all of us back to our respective corners of Montreal. The plan was the same as it was as we entered the Hippodrome: vendors would be open to sell food and other things to pass the time. It’s possible that this may have worked. However, when it started raining during Moment Of Surrender, all bets were off. Most fans ran back to the Namur Metro station. Others searched for cover from the rain wherever they could. Mainly though, the planned leisurely exit from the Hippodrome was scrapped due to the rain. Fans were ushered off of the field. Many FanJam vendors closed, and the result was a large group of people waiting to catch a Metro train with no verbal instructions from security or police and no gates or pens to control the crowd who were aiming to get out of the rain and onto a train.
For a venue that was all but created for this event, it seems the only planning that went into it was how to maximize ticket, food and beverage sales. There seemed to be an adequate number of portable bathrooms, but they were a long walk form almost anywhere in the stadium. Anyway, if a little rain can cause chaos, you have not done your job as an event planner. That is disappointing to say the least. I don’t know if U2 management, Live Nation, Evenko or the city of Montreal are to blame for this poor planning and mess, but I hope there is some correction of it before Saturday night’s show.
Through all of this, the Montrealers I witnessed were calm, polite and not even particularly grumbling. I am impressed at the courage under fire the concertgoers possessed. This is a great city with great fans. The events planners, however, leave a lot to be desired.
The Hippodrome Montreal
8 July 2011
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. The Fly
3. Mysterious Ways
4. Until The End Of The World
5. I Will Follow
6. Get On Your Boots
7. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
8. Stay (Faraway, So Close)
9. Beautiful Day (Cmdr. Mark Kelly Intro)
11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
12. Miss Sarajevo
14. City Of Blinding Lights
16. Crazy Tonight Remix
17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
19. Walk On
20. One (Aung San Suu Kyi Intro)
21. Where The Streets Have No Name
22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
23. With Or Without You
24. Moment Of Surrender (rain outro)
Review, photos, and video by Kramwest1
(Stay classy Montreal!)
Oh, and I thought Interpol sucked–BORING!