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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Last Night: U2 Thrills at SAP Center

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 4:33 PM

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  • Sugarwolf
May 18, 2015
SAP Center, San Jose

After the massive success of U2's 360 Tour, which shattered the record previously held by The Rolling Stones for the highest-grossing tour of all time, many wondered what direction the band would take next. Last night in San Jose fans got their answer; the band has masterfully redefined the arena show and given fans an intimate look at the group's origins.

At roughly 8:15 p.m. Monday evening the house lights dimmed inside the SAP Center as U2 took the stage to kick off the first U.S. date of their Innocence + Experience Tour. The band emerged to the sound of "Beat on the Brat" by the Ramones, as screaming fans rose from their seats.

The band opened with "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)", and then continued the evening by traveling backward and forward in time, playing new material right next to songs dating all the way back to its first album, Boy. The nearly two and a half hour setlist honored musicians, public figures, and the personal relationships that have been major influences on the band. 
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  • Sugarwolf

Bono directed this narrative with the help of two massive LED curtains suspended in mid-air. The LED's imagery changed constantly throughout the night and was often used to assist with telling the story of the band; including its early influences, the neighborhood it grew up in, and the house where Bono lived. Bono walked a catwalk that was constructed between the screens giving the visual sense that he was passing through time. The execution of this effect was brilliant and audience members stood transfixed as the spectacle took place.

An even greater achievement was how the band deftly managed to give an intimate feel to an arena show. The production was engineered with two stages at both ends of the venue connected by a long catwalk (think barbell). Throughout the night Bono and company moved to different parts of this layout giving audience members in all corners of the arena greater access to the band. There were no stage backdrops, bulky screens, or speaker stacks to obstruct the audience's view. The sound system was suspended high in the arena space above the LED's, virtually out of view. The speakers were distributed evenly across the length of the arena so that the sound played clean and at the same level no matter where you were seated.
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  • Sugarwolf

Despite Bono's recent accident and Edge's fall in Vancouver, the band played near peak form pumping out new arrangements of fan favorites "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Vertigo", "Mysterious Ways", "Pride", and "Streets", and closing with "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".

The Innocence + Experience Tour seems destined to be a brilliant refresh for U2, as even hardcore fans are likely to connect with the band returning to its roots. From here it seems the band can pivot in any direction, and this tour proves they still have an interesting story to tell.

U2 plays the SAP Center at San Jose again tonight.
click to enlarge SUGARWOLF
  • Sugarwolf
Set List:

"The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)"
"Out of Control"
"I Will Follow"
"Cedarwood Road"
"Song for Someone"
"Sunday Bloody Sunday"
"Raised by Wolves"
"Until the End of the World"
"Even Better than the Real Thing"
"Mysterious Ways"
"Angel of Harlem"
"When Love Comes to Town"
"Every Breaking Wave"
"Bullet the Blue Sky"
"Beautiful Day"
"With or Without You"
"City of Blinding Lights"
"Where the Streets Have No Name"
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"

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