24 July 2009

U2 Live in Barcelona: the 20-year wait

Time lost. That's the feeling I was having... Why didn't I see U2 live for over 20 years? I have no answer.

This was quickly replaced with the sheer elation of enjoying the experience of a lifetime. But that was when U2 came onto the stage and I saw them, physically saw them for the first time in my life. The concert was at the Camp Nou - the stadium of the Blaugrana - FC Barcelona. Visiting the Camp Nou would have been an experience in itself. But on that day it was easily overshadowed by U2.

The opening act for the night were Snow Patrol, a band I had been accidentally introduced to by a friend a few years earlier. I had grown to like them a lot over the past 3 years. Honestly, I would have paid to watch just Snow Patrol!! They took the stage at about 8.30 with U2 expected at 10 PM.

They were good, despite suffering from a crowd which was "waiting for U2" and having to play while it wasn't even dark yet. They played a great set - most of my favourite songs. Started with "Take back the city" which is their latest big song. Followed that up with the Spiderman 3 theme song - "Signal Fire". That sounded and felt quite good with the sun going down over Barcelona. Next came "Shut your eyes" followed by the big one - "Chasing cars". By now the crowd was warming up to them and they went straight into "Crack the shutters", "Open your eyes" and ending with the brilliant "You're all I have".

That really set the stage for the big show coming up. It was still only 9.30 or so, another half hour to go before I could feel what I had waited to feel for 20 years - what would it be like to see The Edge in the flesh... To see U2 play LIVE.. What songs would they play? Hoping they would play some of the old tracks - the ones I had grown up on.

Almost at 10 PM sharp it happened. U2 took the stage and the stadium was rapturous and erupted.

Me - I was sitting in my seat, overwhelmed. I watched with tears in my eyes. I had waited so long. They kicked off with "Breathe" from the new album.

What followed for the next 2 and half odd hours was breathtaking, stunning, incredible. The superlatives could be endless so I won't bother. Suffice to say it was one of the highlights of my life, till now.

They followed up "Breathe" with some more tracks from "No Line on the horizon"... The title track "No Line On The Horizon", "Get On Your Boots" and then "Magnificent" which was truly magnificent. I was slowly getting excited and expressing myself and standing and watching rather than absorbing it sitting down. "Beautiful Day" followed.. Pretty good. Great song.

And then it happened. It took my breath away. I could not stand.... The Edge started strumming "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". I had to sit. Concentrate. What a sensation to watch U2 play one of my favourite songs - LIVE. So many emotions, so few words. All I could do was sit there and watch them through moist eyes and sing along.... Along with 80,000 other voices.

They upped the tempo after that with "Desire" and bits of "Billie Jean" and "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" as a tribute to Michael Jackson.

What followed was yet another incredible high.. Two really old songs "Party Girl" and "Electrical Storm" (being played live for the first time ever!). Few in the stadium even knew the songs - a vicarious pleasure for me!

Then back to the new album with "Unknown Caller" which lends itself really well to the crowd singing along and boy did we sing along. Followed up with another classic "The Unforgettable Fire". By now, the band were really playing us by mixing up the old and the new.

Yet another 'high' followed with a spectacular lights and stage display for "City of Blinding Lights". The band really took the roof off the stadium for this one. And then another "How to dismantle" track... "Vertigo".

Immediately after playing a new track "I'll Go Crazy if I don't go crazy tonight", U2 went into a mad double-header straight from their roots in Ireland - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)". Oh my God - the crowd went a bit ballistic. Its was incredible to watch.

And then "MLK" - another old one. By now the band had the stadium eating out of the palm of their hands. Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton were roaming the stage casually and 'talking to the crowd' with their music. The stage was a unique design with a 360 degree view and the giant claw stage.

The next song was dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi... Her face flashed on all the screens and Bono reminded people of the plight of Myanmar - "Walk On". During "Walk On",
Bono was wearing a mask of Aung San Suu Kyi. There were about 20 children on stage - all wearing the same masks. A good tribute to a woman with extra-ordinary fortitude.

And then they hit us with another old one which raised the tempo in more ways then one.. "Where the Streets Have No Name". This was followed up by a speech on the video screens by Bishop Desmond Tutu promoting the ONE Campaign... Perfectly cueing up "One". Oh what a feeling. Serious goose-flesh. I've probably heard this song and even live versions a thousand times. And now it was in the flesh.

And then U2 leave the stage... Triggering the beginning of the end of the night. As expected the crowd sang for them to return and they did.

U2 came back to the stage with a slow build up of sound and lights and then a massive crescendo. Breaking into yet another popular-amongst-hard-core-fans-but-not-famous songs - "Ultraviolet (Light my way)". This was followed by arguably U2's most famous song - "With or Without You". I am running out of words and superlatives to explain the emotions.

And then U2 left the stage again.. The crowd would have none of it and kept singing for almost 5 minutes I'm not sure if they were planning to come back anyway or did because of the crowd. My guess is the former.

They hit us with two tracks from the new album "I'll Go Crazy...." A repeat because they played the normal version of Crazy tonight for a video being made of the concert tour and then my favourite song from the new album - "Moment of Surrender". To be honest, I think Bono and the band played with the track a bit too much and it didn't sound great to me but nothing was going to dampen the night.

Needless, to say I was drained. Lost my voice completely. Sweaty, grimy, dirty, hungry, thirsty but contented. Oh so satiated.

Song List (with album name)

Snow Patrol

1-Take back the city (A hundred million suns)
2-Signal Fire (Spiderman 3)
3-Shut your eyes (Eyes Open)
4-Chasing cars (Eyes Open)
5-Crack the shutters (A hundred million suns)
6-Open your eyes (Eyes Open)
7-You're all I have (Eyes Open)


1- Breathe (No Line On The Horizon)
2 - No Line On The Horizon (No Line On The Horizon)
3 - Get On Your Boots (No Line On The Horizon)
4 - Magnificent (No Line On The Horizon)
5 - Beautiful Day (All that you can't leave behind)
6 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (The Joshua Tree)
7 - Desire (Rattle and Hum)
8 - Party Girl (Under a blood red sky)
9 - Electrical Storm (Best of 1990-2000 B side)
10 - Unknown Caller (No Line On The Horizon)
11 - The Unforgettable Fire (The Unforgettable Fire)
12 - City of Blinding Lights (How to dismantle an atomic bomb)
13 - Vertigo (How to dismantle an atomic bomb)
14 - I'll Go Crazy...(No Line On The Horizon)
15 - Sunday Bloody Sunday (War)
16 - Pride (In the Name of Love) (Rattle and Hum)
17 - MLK (The Unforgettable Fire)
18 - Walk On (All that you can't leave behind)
19 - Where the Streets Have No Name (The Joshua Tree)
20 - One (Achtung Baby)
21 - Ultraviolet (Achtung Baby)
22 - With or Without You (The Joshua Tree)
23 - I'll Go Crazy (No Line On The Horizon)
24 - Moment of Surrender (No Line On The Horizon)

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