Tuesday, October 20, 2009

U2 in OK

Well I’ve never been to Spain, but I've just been to Oklahoma. We traveled west to The Sooner State to see U2 during their latest tour. I’ve been counting down the days for this concert for months. U2 is my favorite band, and this is the fifth concert of theirs that I’ve attended. Actually, it’s the sixth time I’ve seen part of U2 perform at least, if you count the time Bono and Edge performed at the Clinton Library opening in Little Rock.

I went to this concert with my brother, who got us the tickets for this tour. He did a great job. We were in the Red Zone, a special “VIP” area on the floor of the stadium by the stage. The Red Zone tickets are purchased through a special auction, and the proceeds go to charities in Africa. But our tickets would allow us to be right along the rail by one of the ramps of the stage. It’s the best concert seats I’ve been in (well if you can call it seats, since we stood the whole time). But when the band would walk along the ramps, they were just a few feet away.

I met my brother in Fayetteville and we drove into Oklahoma before the concert on Sunday night. The concert was held at OU’s stadium in Norman, and the show’s massive stage towered above the field and took up much of the center of the stadium.
Stormin Norman

As we got to the stadium, we saw the huge line of people who were there for the main general admission area. This is the line that people camped out 24 hours before the start of the concert. But luckily we didn’t have to join that line, the queue for the Red Zone was much shorter, and we managed to get close to the front of it with hardly any wait. We were finally allowed into the stadium, where we quickly snagged a choice location along the rail, by the ramp.

This is the view of the stage, nicknamed “The Claw.” According to the wikipedia page: The tour features a 360-degree configuration, with the stage being placed closer to the center of the stadium's field than usual. The stage design features a large four-legged steel structure that holds the speaker system and cylindrical video screen and hovers above the performance area. The stage is surrounded by a circular ramp, which connects to the stage by means of rotating bridges. Fans with general admission tickets can be placed both outside of the ramp, as well as between the ramp and stage. The stage has no defined front or back and is surrounded on all sides by the audience. The stage design can increase the venues' capacities by about 15–20%. Only tiered football stadiums can be used with this scheme; flat fields and baseball stadiums are not possible venues. As with many large-scale tours of its era, the U2 360° Tour will have both the workforce and the revenues associated with a medium-sized company.
The stages are built by the Belgian company Stageco, and construction of each requires the use of high-pressure and innovative hydraulic systems. The steel structure is 164 feet tall – doubling the size of the stadium set for The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang Tour, the previous highest – can hold up to 200 tonnes underneath it, and requires 120 trucks to transport each of the 3 sets constructed to support the tour. Each leg of the structure contains its own sound system. The cost of each structure is between £15 million and £20 million each. The 360° tour crew consists of 137 touring production crew supplemented by over 120 hired locally. Daily costs of the production are approximately $750,000, not including the stage construction; the majority of this comes from truck rentals, transportation, and staff wages. The tour is not expected to break even until the conclusion of the second leg.

The Claw

The opening band was The Black Eyed Peas. I’ve never been a big of a fan of theirs, but they put on a great show. I was impressed.
Black Eyed Peas

U2 have been kind enough to allow cameras into their concerts, as long as they don’t have detachable lenses. So I left my camera in the hotel, and instead brought along a point-and-shoot that I borrowed from a friend (thanks Jenny!). I was disappointed to see people in the crowd around us holding cameras with detachable lenses, but was happy with my borrowed camera since it could also shoot video. So I shot this little video of the band coming out on stage and performing the concert's first song, “Breathe,” from the new album.

There were about 60,000 people at the concert. And they all went crazy. The stage is an amazing sight, especially when it’s combined with the awesome light show as well.

The four members of the band soon took advantage of the ramp around the stage, walking right in front of us. I tried to get as many shots as I could, along with everyone else around us. This is Adam Clayton, the bass player, playing with his back to us…
Adam Clayton

During “Beautiful Day,” both Bono and Edge walked by us. Part of the stage incorporates two moving bridges that would move above the general admission area between us and the stage. During part of the song, Bono sat on the bridge as it glided towards us. This shot was quickly taken just as Bono swept by...

Later in the song, The Edge took advantage of the bridge and crossed over it while playing the guitar…


The camera I was using didn’t have a great zoom on it, so I was really only able to get wide shots of the band when they were on the main stage. This is during the song “No Line On The Horizon,” off the new album.

This is another video of the band busting out “Until the End of the World,” one of my favorite U2 songs.

The stage incorporates a giant video screen, which unfolded from itself and lowered down until it was just above the band. I think this was taken while the band performed “The Unforgettable Fire,” from the album of the same name that was released way back in 1984.

During the song, Bono stood on the bridge and pulled out a young kid from the crowd. He then led the kid along the ramp while singing, keeping him on stage while the band moved into “City of Blinding Lights.” I guess the kid was chosen because he was wearing a Celtic FC soccer jersey?
Made me wonder if I should have worn my FC Dallas jersey, since they both have horizontal stripes…

This is a video of Bono and the kid walking right by us. In the middle of the song, Bono took off his trademark shades and gave them to the kid, who walked back with a dazed look on his face.

Soon the band started playing “I Know I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” which featured more of the band moving around the ramps. This included the drummer, Larry Mullen Jr., who walked by while playing the drums…


And another short video of Bono during “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

After the final encore, the band came out to perform "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" from Achtung Baby...

And sadly, the concert came to an end. This is the band performing the last song, “Moment of Surrender,” from the new album.

It was an awesome concert. I’d say it might just be the best one that I’ve ever been to. The only downside was that it was a bit chilly that night in Norman, and of course I managed to leave my jacket in the car. The cold wasn’t so bad, but there was a chilling wind that came through (I guess since it was Oklahoma, it was the wind sweeping o’er the plains). I’d love to go see another concert on this tour, which is being extended into next year with some tour dates in Europe. Rumor has it that U2 will release a new album next year, so they could very well bring the tour back over here again…

(I have a few more videos I need to upload to youtube, but it took forever to upload these, so I'm going to try again tomorrow).

In case you were wondering, the sit list for the concert was:
1. Breathe
2. Get On Your Boots
3. Magnificent
4. Mysterious Ways
5. Beautiful Day
6. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
7. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
8. No Line On The Horizon
9. Elevation
10. In A Little While
11. Unknown Caller
12. Until The End Of The World
13. The Unforgettable Fire
14. City of Blinding Lights
15. Vertigo
16. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
18. MLK
19. Walk On
20. One
21. Where the Streets Have No Name
22. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
23. With Or Without You
24. Moment of Surrender.

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