I was up in the 200 level for MSG 3, and I really enjoyed getting to see a show from a vantage point where I could see both stages and the screen unobstructed, as well as a view of all of the lighting effects built into the stage floor. I feel like on this particular tour (and the 2015 version), the band weren't really playing to the floor audience to the degree that they had in the past. You could easily pick a spot where they'd be right in front of you for at least a song, but they weren't necessarily looking at you. The eyelines just seemed different. And that's not a good or bad thing, just an observation. When I was on the floor with GA in 2015 and again this year, I didn't really feel like the band were connecting with the people in front of them, in the way I felt that connection on all of the other U2 tours I've seen. Being in the upper level and seeing the big picture, I better understood the reason for that decision. It really felt like they were playing to the whole room, and to the majority of the audience in the stands, more so than the minority on the floor. As a result, I felt more energy sitting in the upper level than I do for most other acts from that distance. It was actually pretty cool to be higher up but to still feel the band making an effort to connect to those who weren't immediately in front of them.
I guess it's a little late at this point, but if anyone is thinking about seeing one of the European shows and wondering if it's still worth doing without GA tickets, my answer would be a resounding yes. My favorite spots to be in for The Joshua Tree, 360, Vertigo and Elevation tours were always right in front of the main stage (or as close as possible to it), but for these i&e/e&i outings, I really loved getting the full view. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it from the upper level. At no point did I think "Damn, I wish I was on the floor" which is usually what happens when I'm in the upper level for a show.
I did not end up seated next to that person from MSG1 and MSG2. That was the plus. On the downside, this was the show I brought my wife to (she's not a big fan but indulges me by coming along to a single show), and she was seated next to possibly the worst person I've ever encountered at a U2 show. There's no real polite way of saying it, but this guy was just a jerk. He got progressively angrier as the show went on, to the point where it was necessary to go to security because those of us seated near him started worrying about our own safety. He really became unbearable during the Staring At The Sun/Pride combo. When Bono was talking about peace in Ireland, he started screaming at Bono that he was a traitor. By the middle of Staring At The Sun, he just kept screaming "Go back to Ireland!" at him. And then, when Pride began, he just started screaming "F--- you!" over and over and over and over, and that's when we got security involved. Listen, I get that we don't all share the same politics, but at a certain point, I don't understand why you're paying to be offended. If you don't like U2's politics and don't like hearing about them, don't go to a U2 show. If you're offended that U2 didn't support the IRA, don't go to a U2 show. And if you do go, be prepared to accept that not everyone will share your viewpoint, and find a way to express your opposition to the viewpoint being offered by the band with silence, not by shouting obscenities. I've been seeing U2 for over twenty years, and while I've seen some people roll their eyes at Bono's speechifying, I never imagined that I'd be sitting next to someone who was cheering more for the bomb exploding than for song protesting the bombs. After the show was over, my wife mentioned some of the other things he was saying during the show and I just felt so awful that she had to sit next to that. Ever since we met, she's heard me talking about how U2 fans are a real community, and how we believe in being good to each other and stressing tolerance above all else in our collective political leanings, and instead she had to sit next to a guy screaming obscenities and racial slurs. I apologize for ranting about this now, I'm just so shocked that it even happened. It's one thing to have the person that I had at MSG1 and MSG2 who lacked some self-awareness and was a little bit rude and loud and obnoxious, but that MSG1/2 lady wasn't actually malicious. This guy last night was. And I also want to give credit to the security guard at MSG. Once I spoke to the security guy, he positioned himself unobtrusively at the end of my row, and just stared at the racist troublemaker for the rest of the night. And as soon as the guy saw that he was being watched, he shut up.
As to the show itself, it was great - just as good as MSG2. I had a funny moment early on when "Red Flag Day" wasn't played. The thing for me is, I love How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, and it had been more than a decade since I heard the band play a song from that album other than Vertigo and City Of Blinding Lights, so I was very cool with getting another performance of All Because Of You. But it seemed like there was a split second where you could see the people in the GA section slightly deflating because it wasn't Red Flag Day or Gloria or something even rarer, and then a second later, it was almost like you could see a conscious decision of "I'm going to enjoy this song anyway even if it's not the one I wanted!" But I, for one, am very happy that All Because Of You has come back this tour.
I really got choked up at the end of the performance. By the end of Love Is Bigger..., I was getting a little teary-eyed. It's such a beautiful song with such a beautiful message, and it has such a great sound to it. And I was just a flat-out mess of waterworks during 13 (There Is A Light).
For me, the best parts of E&I 2018 were the performances of the new songs. I didn't like You're The Best Thing About Me, Get Out Of Your Own Way and American Soul on the album, but in concert, they were phenomenal. The acoustic version of Best Thing was just gorgeous and I can't believe how much my opinion of that song has changed just from hearing a different arrangement. I can't wait for a tour DVD to come out, and maybe they'll even throw a live recording of just that song out as a b-side or something down the road. It's great. If that acoustic version had been around a couple years ago when I got married, I would have loved to have incorporated it into my wedding somehow. It's just so beautiful.
I've never seen a U2 tour before where the played so few songs between so many shows as they did on this one, but I have to say, it worked a lot better in person than I thought it would on paper. And each and every new song was fantastic and well worth the price of admission. The minor quibbles that I have might have just been that I would have liked to have heard even more new songs, and that I wish they would have given some of the songs that were played regularly on both I&E 2015 and JT2017 a rest this time around. I don't want to say I was bored, but I was less wowed by something like Elevation this time around than I was in the past. And I didn't need to see the exact same productions of Iris, Cedarwood Road, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Until The End Of The World as we saw in 2015. But Love Is All We Have Left, The Blackout, Lights Of Home, You're The Best Thing About Me, Get Out Of Your Own Way, American Soul, Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way and 13 (There Is A Light) were all spectacular in concert, and they were the true highlights of the show for me. It is a wonderful thing that the thing I was most excited for at a U2 show was not to hear their old songs but to hear their new songs. That's the sign of a healthy band that's still creatively vital. And I hope I never lose that feeling.