Casa Arena in Horsens Denmark hosted the third and forth dates of the 2010 European leg of U2′s monumental 360 tour which is spanning the globe, hitting places like Ankara Turkey (their first time in Turkey, should I go to that one? The lure is strong for reasons that shall be revealed).
What an incredible show, starting as the sun set, the giant Cthuluesque space octopus stage–which also conjures up for me the Paul Williams and William L. Pereira designed LAX Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport– began to glow, responding to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” signaling the band’s emergence on the stage. The roar of the crowd, it’s a “Beautiful Day” followed by tight fast pacing of hits and treasures (“New Year’s Day,” “Get on your Boots,” “Magnificent,” the super sexy “Mysterious Ways,” “Elevation,” “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). Then a huge surprise, a brand new song they’re still working out, “Glastonbury” which was heaps of fun.
Oh and I loved “Miss Sarajevo,” with Bono’s soaring tenor taking quite nicely over the operatics recorded originally by Pavorati, then the erotic, cathartic guilt love and loathing explosion of “Until the End of the World, “sublime, profound with intense instrumental bridges highlighting Edge’s guitar work.
U2 is not afraid to take risks live that is clear (and I loved the PopMart tour, heck I saw it four times times, tho I missed the show when the band, dressed in disco wear, got accidentally trapped the glittering lemon), and despite all the intense lighting and sound cues and vast array of technologies needed to make this show run, U2 steps up and steps out, jamming and improvising, riffing and running with the vibe of the crowd to insure each gig is unique. And it works, or it least it did in Horsens.
What also works is Bono’s skill at tapping into the audience’s mindset and bringing then along on the band’s voyage. In Horsens that included referencing (and all his spiels were translated and subtitled on the massive round screen) the previous day’s fashion show in Copenhagen–the world’s longest cat walk–and model Helena Christensen’s work on behalf of charity as a lead in to a video featuring Bishop Desmond Tutu praising those who marched for civil rights in America, peace in Ireland and elsewhere and debt forgiveness in the Jubilee Year.
We are those people. Because of our voices, millions more are alive thanks to HIV drugs.
And then the band launched into “One” as the final part of their socio-political trilogy of songs that seamlessly integrated into the show, taking us to an emotional climax. The triad began with the stage bathed in green. A video of Arabic script and a hijab wearing woman appear on screen. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” melded into “Get Up Stand Up” performed as images of the Iranian student protests, inspiring and violent, tragic and uplifting, merge.
From there Bono spoke about the legally elected Burmese premier Ang San Suu, asking for our thoughts to go out to her, singing what he called
the song “MLK “, then “Walk On,” as the Amnesty International candle logo glowed out from the stage. (Side note: One of of Amnesty International’s founders, the late Sean MacBride–Nobel Peace Prize winner and a former President of the United Nations General Assembly–was the son of Maud Gonne, the Irish revolutionary and inspiration of many of Yeats’ poetry who worked with the poet in the struggled for Irish independence. Sean’s father, Major John MacBride, was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter uprising).
Tutu’s video and “One” are followed by “Where the Streets have No Name” and a greeting from the commander of the International Space Station, then more songs, and an encore.
It’s the the green bathed stage and the Iranian protest videos that are pulling me to Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium–built for Turkey’ failed bid for the 2006 Olympics. The Iranians and Turks have a tenuous relationship, and Turkey is a very much a secular Islamic state, though there are factions lobbying for a greater religious force in government.
And in the time it has taken me to write this, the decision has been made. I am going to Turkey.