U2’s lead singer took to the stage Monday night in Toronto, Ontario, Canada ready to enjoy himself. He had more than his usual swagger going; he was relaxed, but with a mischievous tinge to him.
Just after 7 p.m., the crowd in the Rogers Centre cheered as the first cracks of light appeared as the giant dome doors began to slide open. It was a warm day in Toronto, and there had been a good chance of thunderstorms predicted for the evening. Whatever weather or music gods chose to smile on the stadium that night, the fans were pleased. Maybe this was the reason for Bono’s jubilance. Maybe it was the relief of a job well-done in Montreal, where not only did U2 bring the world’s most amazing stage, the 360 Tour CLAW, but also they were responsible for building the temporary stage that housed it and 160,000 fans over two nights. Whatever the case, after Interpol left the stage, and the U2 360 crew prepped for the band, it was showtime.
The same blitz of Achtung Baby songs started the night. Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry cranked their way through Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, and Until The End Of The World. The crowd loved the familiar hits. Following their new hit, Get On Your Boots, Bono took a moment to tell people what the band members have been up to since they last played in Toronto in 2009. “Adam has become a father,” said Bono, “Larry is playing a Camaro in Trainspotting 3, no, Transformers 3.” This drew a big laugh from the crowd. “Larry is starring opposite Donald Sutherland in a movie that’s coming out,” Bono corrected himself, “and Edge? Well, Edge has a new idea for a musical.” Bono clearly was amusing himself and slightly less so his bandmates as he continued rambling.
The good cheer continued as the crowd sang along with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. With a big smile on his face, it was obvious that Bono loves his fans and appreciates that they still care about his lyrics after all of these years.
Recognizing that this was becoming a special night, Bono modified the line in Stay (Faraway, So Close), “With Satellite television you can go anywhere. Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast and Toronto in the summer sun.” Following Beautiful Day, he added to this by yelling, “I’m gonna take you higher still!” And with that he took a swig from his bottle, tipped his head back and sprayed a fountain of water into the air. Time hasn’t left him as he was, but time hasn’t taken the boy out of this man.
As if there couldn’t be any more playfulness and antics on stage, during Elevation, a fan threw a Canadian flag on the catwalk. Bono picked up the flag and tucked part of it in his back pocket, leaving most of the flag dangling out. Toward the end of the song, he sang, “I need a bridge to take me to the other side. I got Canada in my back-side.” Everyone laughed. He crossed one of the stage’s bridges and hung the flag from Larry’s drum.
Not as an apology for the flag joke, but in his most humble and sincere voice, Bono stated, “The world needs more Canadas.” After seeing threes shows in Canada over four nights and a fourth in Winnipeg this past May, I believe he meant every word of that and more. The guys in U2 seem to love this country, and it shows in their performances here. Whatever the current political situation in Canada and Toronto, from my perspective as a U.S. citizen, Canadians seem to conduct themselves with a wonderful mix of hard work, social responsibility and a passion for their free time. I agree that the world needs more Canadas. No one can be happy all of the time, but I saw a disproportionate number of smiles on faces, and people of all ages enjoying themselves. I’m sure it helped that U2 was in town, however I have felt this Canadian spirit before, and I hope to again.
The night continued with Miss Sarajevo. I had criticized Bono in my previous review for messing up the lyrics of this beautiful song. In Toronto, he nailed it with a performance of it that I don’t think I’ve seen since the Vertigo Tour. Zooropa and the high-energy trio of City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo and Crazy Tonight Remix followed. The crowd loved Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Bono took advantage of their participation by circling his finger as he started Scarlet. The motion was to let the band and crew know that the crowd would be more than happy to sing “Rejoice!” and to keep it going a little longer.
Joshua Tree favorite’s Where The Streets Have No Name and With Or Without You kept the crowd singing to the end of the night. They loved Bono’s swinging on the circular microphone during Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. He swung around more than I had seen at previous concerts. The playful Bono had many “thank yous” to deliver before finishing with Moment Of Surrender. A very happy band hung on stage and bowed and faced all directions, thanking the Torontonians for a special night.
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
11 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
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
22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
23. With Or Without You
24. Moment Of Surrender
Review, photos and videos by kramwest1
(Thanks Canada, see you in Moncton!)