Hallelujah Montreal!

I have been churning the thoughts of Montreal in head for the last day, trying to decide how to review the second night U2 show. The only benefit I can find to spending a far-too-limited amount of time in that great city is that my mind is not so crowded of memories of Montreal and its sites, so I still have U2 in my head. That city and Quebec deserve so much more recognition than I can give them here. I had a wonderful time, did not feel uncomfortable because I do not speak French, and I cannot wait to return. I will say again, the people of Montreal were so friendly, helpful and proud. They obviously enjoy life and want you to as well. They make ideal U2 fans, and being with 40,000 of them in the General Admission (GA) section at the Hippodrome was a wonderful thing.

(The easiest way to review the night is song by song with my thoughts intermixed. I’m not going to bother with any focus on security and poor event planning. My Friday night show review was enough of that. Moment Of Soggy, U2 In Montreal Night 1)

Interpol

I don’t know much of their music, but I can say that I don’t feel it translates well to a stadium setting. They are a tight band and play well together. I wish them luck, but they failed to inspire me and those around me both nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Space Oddity Intro – The crowd now knows that this is the lead-in to U2’s entrance and sing along in anticipation. It was very fun to feel it.

2. Even Better Than The Real Thing – U2 arrived on stage and ripped into this Achtung Baby hit.

3. The Fly –The CLAW came alive in a strobing mass. This song was kind of a dud when it was released as the first single off Achtung Baby. It was too “different” of U2. Now, it is a monster hit live and a favorite of many.

The Fly Montreal video link

4. Mysterious Ways –The new video for this song fits well with Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil’s celebration of the human animal. The beautiful dancer is morphed and modified to match well with the songs lyrics. For a song I’ve heard live many times, this reinvigorates it nicely.

5. Until The End Of The World –The final string of Achtung Baby opening songs got the crowd pumped for the rest of the night. I was eager to hear what is next because I know U2’s second nights bring fun changes.

6. Out Of Control –U2’s first single sounds great, and they played it with good energy. It’s nice to hear a rare tune in the setlist on the tour because the band usually puts a little something extra in it.

Out Of Control Montreal video link

7. Get On Your Boots –A Sikh fan was pulled up on stage and didsn’t miss a beat with his shout of “I don’t want to talk about wars between nations!” Bono was impressed. I found out later that he is a long-time fan and well known among those that regularly camp out for U2 shows. That had to be one of the best moments of his life.

“Tonight we want to give you as a gift to the world,” says Bono. The show is to be simulcast on U2.com to subscribers. “When we were kids, joining U2 was like running away with the circus. Now, maybe we need to find another circus.” In the home of Cirque du Soleil, he takes this time to introduce the band members and speculates on what they would be in a circus:

Larry would be a fire-eater. A sword-swallower? World’s strongest man?

Adam would be the bearded lady.

Edge would be a trapeze artist. A high-wire walker. Edge responds with “a knife thrower.”

“And, I will play the clown,” says Bono modestly, a reference to the video of the next song.

8. All I Want Is You –Bono finished this beautiful song with some soft harmonica playing.

9. Stuck In A Moment –“For a great friend, Michael Hutchence,” states a saddened Bono. Hutchence was the long-time lead singer of INXS who took his own life in 1997.

10. Beautiful Day –This song has been popular and a tour staple since Elevation, but it has an extra richness and passion since this tour’s addition of Commander Mark Kelly’s introduction of it in the International Space Station and the dedication of it Kelly’s wife Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in January of this year. I have seen this intro and song five times now, and it has never failed to bring me to tears. Thankfully, Beautiful Day is an uplifting song and raises my spirit and the crowd’s.

11. Elevation –As if they planned on keeping our spirits high, the band kept the momentum going with this simple, fun song.

12. New Year’s Day –Again, as with Out Of Control, this song makes a special appearance in U2’s show and has a reinvigorated feel to it.

13. Miss Sarajevo –The only possible negative thing I can say for this night is that Bono should stop singing this song. For two nights in a row, he messed up the lyrics of this deeply emotion tune. It deserves better than that.

14. Zooropa –The transition from Miss Sarajevo to Zooropa is a brilliant series of overlapping questions posed by different voices, including Stephen Hawking’s “Is history bound to repeat itself?” I love the transition and may forgive Bono’s mistakes. Zooropa is a precious gem of a song to me, and special to many of U2’s fans for its uniqueness and insightful damning of our consumer-driven world. Greatness!

15. City Of Blinding Lights –The complex and beautiful video screen that is the centerpiece of the 360 CLAW stage extended downward for Zooropa and lit up with bright, glowing colors, fittingly for this song.

16. Vertigo –Continuing the high they were put on by City Of Blinding Lights (COBL), Montrealers went crazy for Vertigo. The Hippodrome was filled with bouncing and singing fans.

17. Crazy Tonight Remix –This three-song grouping (COBL, Vertigo and Crazy Tonight) is the most energetic part of the night. The crowd needed no more motivation, but the dancing continued through this remix. I am proud and amazed that the band ever took such a risk with this. What easily could have been a flop has been the most memorable part of this tour for some and speaks to U2’s inventiveness and willingness to experiment and take chances.

18. Sunday Bloody Sunday –I am so glad to see the crowd absolutely devour this song. It holds very little meaning or interest for me anymore, so I am glad that I can enjoy other people enjoying it.

19. Scarlet –This is a rare track and an odd choice to include in a concert. U2 makes it work, especially tonight with an energetic Bono singing, “Rejoice!” The crowd was happy to join him.

20. Walk On –The freeing of Burma’s legitimately elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has transformed this from a song of hope to a song of celebration. We are reminded by the video screen that there are still many political prisoners in Burma, but we at least can take pleasure in knowing that one has been released.

21. One –In a triumphant video introduction Aung San Suu Kyi thanked the crowd for their activism, and reminded us that like us, she is a U2 fan.

22. Where The Streets Have No Name –I am not alone in wanting more of Bono’s beautiful intro of Hallelujah to Streets. Written by Montreal native son, Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah embodies the wonderful combination that U2 means to me: joy, hope, and yet a longing for more.

 

 

 

 

The band leaves the stage and a brief video of aliens and spaceships took us into the encore.

 

23. Ultra Violet (Light My Way) –This is one of my favorite U2 songs and certainly my favorite from Achtung Baby. The crowd was receptive, but didn’t seem to fully know what to do with it because Ultra Violet was not a big hit or a single from the band. I don’t care and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t mind being selfish for a moment in a crowd of 80,000.

24. With Or Without You –This is a closing favorite with so many U2 fans. I don’t know if Bono and the guys would get out of the stadium alive if they neglected to play it. As if he knew this, Bono added the special lyrics of “We’ll shine like stars in the summer night! We’ll shine like stars, it’ll be alright!” to the end of it.

25. Moment Of Surrender –What is surely the best version I have heard of this song closed out the night.

I enjoyed my time in Montreal, and sharing U2 with its people will be a great memory for life. I am fortunate to get to travel to see the band. I take this for granted sometimes. Meeting friends that I have chatted with online for weeks (or even years) at shows is a special thing. Seeing a U2 show with them and with new people that I meet is a great experience, especially when some are seeing the band for their first time. Hallelujah, Montreal. Merci.

 

Review, pictures and videos by kramwest1

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Moment Of Soggy-U2 In Montreal, Night 1

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.

Bono Introduces The Royal Irish Band

^Video Link

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

Setlist

 

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)

10. Elevation

11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)

12. Miss Sarajevo

13. Zooropa

14. City Of Blinding Lights

15. Vertigo

16. Crazy Tonight Remix

17. Sunday Bloody Sunday

18. Scarlet

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!

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