Column: off the record . . . vol. 11-471

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off the record, from @U2


Two weeks ago I was sitting in line in Nashville, waiting to get in to my last show of the U2 360 tour. It was my first time in Tennessee, so I did the requisite barbecue sampling and music shop exploring. I met up with a friend I hadn't seen in 10 years and we got in line at 5:45 a.m. We were about 300 people back, but this worked out well because we were shaded for most of the sweltering day by trees. Even considering the heat, it was probably the most efficient, well-run, pleasant U2 GA line I've ever been in. I chatted with other fans, listened to the sound check, and all the good stuff that goes along with the line.

The stadium itself was remarkably small, and I heard it was the smallest show of the tour. It almost felt like an arena show. There was a closeness between the floor and the seats, even the nosebleeds, that didn't exist in any of the other 360 shows I'd been to. The stage towered over everything. People in a parking garage across the street were lined inside the structure and they had a very clear view of the show. It didn't surprise me at all to learn after the show that people had gathered in huge crowds all around the stadium because they could see parts of the show there as well. As I texted to the other atu2 staffer at the show, it felt like it was going to be a really special show.

Was it ever. Florence + The Machine released a great album last year, Lungs, and she ended up being maybe my favorite U2 opening act ever. She can sing and she actually knows how to perform.

For the most part, the set list was the same as at other shows on the tour, but we did get "The Fly," which made me extremely happy. Things were going along swimmingly until after "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Bono whispered something to The Edge and he started playing something acoustic. Then Bono started singing. "I went walking through streets paved with gold." My friend said afterwards that he looked over at me and I appeared completely stunned. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Zooropa is tied for my favorite U2 album ever, but I never held out much hope of getting to hear any of it. In one show, I got to hear "Stay," "Zooropa" and "The Wanderer." It still makes me want to giggle thinking about it. I consider Zooropa to be U2's lyrical masterpiece, and those are three of the best songs on the album. It is one of the coolest parts of my musical life to have been able to hear them live.

After all that, after an amazing show in relentless heat, they let the experience last a little longer than it should, and it was perfect. I'm sure you have all seen this, but it's worth watching again.

After the show, my friend who doesn't know much about U2, who almost never goes to concerts in general, who isn't prone to being "dazzled" by things, said that every single sweltering minute in the Tennessee heat, every minute driving, every dollar spent was totally worth it. I love this band.

One other thing I took from the Seattle and Nashville shows is just how darned good the band sounds at this point. Those two shows were the seventh and eighth U2 shows I've been to, respectively, and they have never sounded as good as they do now at any of the prior shows I've attended. Over the past few tours, Bono has picked up a tendency to kind of sing-speak lines in songs, but lately he's been singing as clearly as ever. For a man who has suffered lifelong back problems, Larry is hitting those drums with superb precision and skill. Adam's more energetic on stage than anyone knew was possible. For a guitarist who bases so much of what he does on rhythm and timing, Edge is going above and beyond even his sterling reputation. I know it can be argued that the band's studio output isn't at the same creative level it has been in the past, but as performers they seem better than ever. On stage, they're enjoying it.

I know this was covered in Sherry's column last week, but I just want to reiterate appreciation for the improvements has been making lately. I've had an astonishing amount of grief from the site in the past and I was ready to drop it once my subscription for this year ran out. With the streaming and improved content (and the fact that they got my username fixed--yay!), I'm reconsidering. It took a while, but hopefully things are finally picking up.

Lastly, an album I would highly recommend checking out. Glasvegas opened for U2 earlier on during the U2 360 tour supporting their eponymous album. I enjoyed it, and their distinctly Glaswegian touch, quite a bit. Their new album, ///Euphoric\\\ Heartbreak, took things to another level entirely. Here are a couple songs from the album that got stuck in my head late at night and prevented me from falling asleep, heh.

"The World Is Yours" 

"Shine Like Stars" 

"Whatever Hurts You Through The Night" 

(C) @U2/Ryan, 2011

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