U2 With Florence and the Machine

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Thursday, June 23, 2011

For anyone that’s seen U2 on any of the stops of their critically acclaimed 360 Degrees Tour, it’s not hard to understand how they sell out some of the world’s biggest venues and manage to bring one of the most elaborate and extravagant production events to each one. While I saw them two years ago at RFK Stadium in DC I wasn’t able to do press for that show, so being able to do press for this show was pretty incredible.

Though the Baltimore Sun was reporting attendance expectations around roughly 80,000, the number shown right before their set started was around 74,000. However, I’m sure many more fans filed in in-between.

A look-alike of the giant mechanical spider from Wild Wild West, U2’s stage set up is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever laid eyes on. Before they come on stage, the giant screen inside it shows statistics like the number of abortions performed on that day, numbers of emails sent, births, deaths and other pointless statistics but once they come on it turned into one of the biggest screens I’ve ever seen; rivaling the one at Cowboys stadium in Texas. Speaking with a few fans after the show it appeared that many, many fans had obstructed views of the stage due to poorly planned support beams – none of this was made known to the ticket holders before the event, which it should’ve been.

Thanks to the elaborate stage design, which featured a central, circular stage followed by a circle section of fans, a circular catwalk connected to a bridge that went above the fans in the first pit area, then a final pit area (where all of our photos were taken). That description probably wasn’t the easiest to follow without a photo to look at but it’ll have to do, though quality photos of the contraption are up on U2’s site thanks to their private photographers.

U2 have by far one of the longest set lists of any band touring nowadays at well over two hours and spanning twenty-four songs, including their two encores. This gave way to some of the better so-called Bono-isms. Those being grunting, hand motions and plugging his favorite political causes (which were already forcibly rammed down your throat before you even made it into the stadium). One of the weirder aspects of the show were cameos from Desmond Tutu and Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s husband, neither of which really went with well with the flow of the show. These weren’t the only weird aspects of the show though. Bono also dedicated “Scarlet” to Aung San Suu Kyi (who is apparently a Burmese dissident), to a small smattering of applause. I suppose the majority of the crowd were like me and had no idea who that was. While moments like these seemed like a small speed bump on the bands set, they were able to make up for theme especially when dedicating “Moment of Surrender,” to Clarence Clemons, who recently passed away.

While I’ve never been that big of a fan of U2, I have nothing but respect for the band musically and their live show – at least on the 360 Degrees Tour – is unparalleled by any band around today, that alone makes it worth the price of admission. If you’ve got the extra money to spend, the time to go and the desire to see a mind-blowing show – regardless of how much you like the band you’re seeing – I highly recommend catching U2 on this or any of their other future tours.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

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
10. Elevation
11. Pride (In the Name of Love)
12. Miss Sarajevo
13. Zooropa
14. City of Blinding Lights
15. Vertigo
16. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
18. Scarlet
19. Walk On

Encore #1:

20. One
21. Where the Streets Have No Name

Encore #2:

22. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
23. With or Without You
24. Moment of Surrender

Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

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