It’s been called The Biggest Concert In St. Louis History. I’m not sure about all that, but it was an amazing performance.
The U2 360° tour marked 30 years of success U2 and last night at Busch they showed that they are as relevant today as they were when they first found success in the early 1980’s. Many in the crowd were not born when U2 first hit US shores or when they played their first show at Graham Chapel at Washington University in 1981. For that show they were paid $750, which is about what it cost for a couple to go to last night’s show in some of the premium seats. But that show also included 3 songs repeated at the end of the set that had played the beginning! This last leg of the tour also marks the nearly of the end of almost 2 years on the road for the lads from Dublin. Fans last night could tell it had been a long two years, marked by everything from a long postponement of many shows due to back surgery for Bono to U2’s historic, triumphant performance at The Glastonbury Festival, which was a first for the band.
The production and the performance were incredible. This tour has set a new standard for stadium mega-concerts. From the Disco Ball that sat atop the tower, 300 feet above the floor to the moving bridges that passed just above the heads of the die-hard fans standing in the “Red Zone” section, there was not one part of the show that didn’t leave the crowd in awe. Indeed at times the production overwhelmed the music. Sometimes, U2 tours basketball arenas and focus more on the music and sometimes, like 360°, they go all out for the spectacle. Both can be appealing and both can be amazing. They have forgone the spectacle for their last two major world tours but they brought it back with a vengeance this time around.
U2 opened their set with “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” which was the first of 4 straight songs from 1991’s Actung Baby as “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways” and “Until The End Of The World” following the opening number. Bono commented that it felt like 1991 and for many in the crowd it did feel that way as they reminisced about the last time U2 played a stadium show in St. Louis at the old Busch in 1992 supporting Actung Baby. As the set went on, the band jumped from the past to the present, playing such stalwarts as “I Will Follow” from their debut album Boy (now over thirty years old!) and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and mixing in songs from the most recent albums, like “Get On Your Boots” from their latest No Line On The Horizon (now over 2 years old!).
The coolest moment of the show was when they played a recorded message from Captain Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords on the International Space Station. First greeting St. Louis, he then spelled out the name of “Beautiful Day” as U2 launched into a raucous version of the song, a true celebration of life, leaving many in the crowd speechless and thrilled.
Overall there were some down moments. The slower ballad “Scarlet” was a bit of a let down so deep in the set and “Miss Sarajevo” missed the mark with the vocal contributions of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti as on the original recording. During the encore, which started with “One”, The Edge seemed to have tuning problems with his guitar, which was understandable given the extreme heat and humidity that the show took place under. But those moments were far over-shadowed by the rest of the performance. It was a fantastic night and everyone who braved that heat and humidity left Busch Stadium with a big, sweaty smile!