Not to start on a down note, but it is hard not to write an obituary. For many of us fans, U2’s 360 Tour stage, “The Claw,” has become an entity of its own. With the tour ending in Moncton, and the eventual fate of the Claws currently unknown, it is a little sad to think of the giant steel structure being disassembled for the last time. For more than two years, this engineering marvel has thrilled audiences around the world. Its arrival and assembly in town meant something cool and different was about to happen. It enhanced U2’s show without overshadowing them. It had a personality (if possibly only a projection of U2’s Willie Williams’ own personality) and some faults (legs that blocked some people’s views and a screen that increasingly lost some pixels). Such a presence will be missed, even if we know as fans that the band will return someday.
The end of a tour is both exciting and melancholy. U2 is able to relax and be a little more playful knowing that the demands of the tour will be over soon, but there also is an air of sadness with the eventuality of this production’s magic coming to an end.
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada hosted this ending, and it did so well. With nearly 100,000 people in attendance, concerns about logistics in this smaller town were valid, and there were some glitches. Yes, traffic was somewhat difficult, but only those with unrealistic expectations could have been disappointed or annoyed. Moncton and its people embraced this event and should be proud of their efforts.
Carney kicked off the night with an ambitious performance. For me, too many cover songs marred what seems to be a relatively talented band.
The Arcade Fire took the stage for a performance that I had been anticipating for months. They played a fairly standard set, which is great for their long-time fans, but not immediately engaging for such a large crowd. The band has plenty of loud, catchy tunes to draw-in the audience, however it took almost 10 songs into their 12-song set for fans to be interested outside of the immediate Claw stage area. I had hoped that they might join U2 on stage at some point later that night like they had in Montreal on the Vertigo Tour. Unfortunately, as an Arcade Fire fan, they did not. Fortunately, as a U2 fan, it did not matter because Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry gave such a great performance without any special guests.
Many “ending” songs played over the stage’s speaker system before the band came out: The Rolling Stones The Last Time, REM’s It’s The End of The World As We Know It, etc. Also, two F-18 fighter jets made a few flyovers of the concert grounds before the show started. This may have thrilled the crowd more than either warm-up band.
Finally, U2 took the stage to the repeating opening riff of Even Better Than The Real Thing. As had been the case with previous shows, several Achtung Baby songs opened, then I Will Follow and Get On Your Boots. Bono continued the refrain, “Get on your boots, Moncton. Moncton… Moncton as opposed to Muck-Town. That’s not good.” –a reference to the incredibly muddy condition of the field. Most attendees were well-prepared for a wet evening since it had rained the entire day. Thankfully, the sky cleared up, and mud was the only annoyance to be endured. Bono referenced the rain as well saying, “Deep down, I know you like your rock stars wet.” I only can imagine that he was responding to any number of the signs that the die-hard fans were holding up in the Claw’s pit.
After crowd sing-along favorite I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bono performed a verse from Springhill Mining Disaster. A great cheer rose up as locals appreciated the small recognition from the band of the disaster that happened in nearby Nova Scotia.
Little flourishes throughout the night were reminders that this was a special show. Larry performed an extended drum solo at the end of Elevation. During the Crazy Tonight Remix, members of the 360 Tour crew replaced the usual faces of Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry on the video screen. Some of them mugged the way the guys usually do. Others smiled. Some looked embarrassed.
Much to the crowd’s delight, Bono belted out a beautiful and sorrowful verse of Hallelujah before the chiming guitar opening of Where The Streets Have No Name began. Streets always is a hit, but to see a mass of people in the General Admission section that flowed seemingly endlessly uphill from the stage clapping along was amazing.
The encore brought the usual trio of songs in addition to Bono’s multitude of “thank-yous” before Moment Of Surrender. As they played a particularly raucous version of Out Of Control, Bono, obviously enjoying the atmosphere, said during the middle section, “I’m not going anywhere without a bottle of champagne, so take as long as you want.” When he received the bottle, he opened it and began to spray the people in the pit. After a little discussion, Adam and Edge switched sides of the stage signifying they were going to play the traditional U2 show ending song, 40. While finishing his part, Bono removed his glasses and revealed his eyes welling up with tears.
It was a beautiful and emotional night. So many people in Moncton were seeing U2 and the 360 Tour for the first time, but as for myself and many others, we were seeing it for the last time. My U2 360 Tour spanned 12 shows in 9 cities in the U.S. and Canada, including the North American opener in Chicago and now the tour closer in Moncton.
Over the course of the tour, I have gotten to experience so many great things: meeting up with old friends, meeting new friends, visiting new cities, hearing new songs, hearing old songs redone, hearing songs I never thought I would get to hear live… just so many great things. It has been a wonderful ride. I would like to say a “hello” and a “take care” to all of my U2 AOL MB friends (you know who you are), my Interference friends (those I have met in person and those I have only met online) and to some of the random people I was fortunate to run into along the way: Chris and Stephanie, Alan, JJ and Katja, Audrie, Michel, Paul and others. I hope to see you again someday. I am so glad that we all took the time to introduce ourselves to the people around us. I am so glad we all met while seeing U2.
Bono added a long extra verse to the end of Stay (Faraway, So Close) Saturday night, and I think it is appropriate to close out the reviews of the 360 Tour:
“3 o’clock in the morning,
and the trucks roll out of town.
Ray Daniels, we’ll be thinking of you,
sittin’ on his cloud.
but strangely, this feels like home.
Glad my wife is here tonight.
It’s not a night to be alone.
all came here for the show.
Some loves, some loves
are just so hard to let go.
It’s quiet. There’s no one around.
Just the bang and the clatter
As 360 leaves town.”
30 July 2011
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Magnetic Hill Festival Grounds
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
(Springhill Mining Disaster snippet)
8. Stay (Faraway, So Close)
9. Beautiful Day
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
21. Where The Streets Have No Name (Hallelujah Intro)
22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
23. With Or Without You
24. Moment Of Surrender
25. Out Of Control
Review, photos and video by kramwest1