The tender echoes of a past overlapping with a now, presenting the possibilities of a different tomorrow. Don’t really know what that means yet. Think it might be poetic, but I am having it as the opening lines of this ramble-cum- first hand narritive from Manchester 1. Tonight,
Bono recalls on stage the first ever time the U2 came to play Manchester, !980. May 1980 he pinpointed. I wasn’t there that time, but I was in this city back in 1992 when the band played the G-Mex Centre, captured on video as Stop Sellafield - The Concert. The G-Mex ‘room’ was quite similar to this one here at the Manchester Arena, as I recall - the 3 hour drive there and back to Newcastle area very similar.
I have long outgrown that ‘Mini’ car that I made that journey in, sadly. Company back then was Mrs Bigwave, a last minute decision to chance it without tickets to see if we could blag some on the day. We got lucky.. 6 rows from the front… or so we thought. Soon as the band walked on stage, the first five rows stood up on their seats so all we were looking at were a line of fat arses.. and when we tried to stand on our seats, the security were having none of it and made everyone from Row 6 back, sit down! All this going on as Zoo Station, The Fly and Even Better Than The Real Thing were rocking the house (all 3 songs were played in tonights experience and innocence set too amazingly!), and we were left feeling faraway.. so close. 5 rows still on their seats jumping and bouncing, security letting them… not letting us. By the time One was getting introduced that night 5 songs into the set, the crowd lulled to listen to the singer’s intro speech.. which got interrupted by this scream from the soul of one angry fan… ‘I can’t fucking see!’ Guess the name of that angry fan. For a moment it seemed to silence the whole hall.. and caused the singer to pause for just a moment… I swear… (I couldn’t see him because of the fat arses at eye level), but as he paused in surprise of this angry cry, he calmed it in an instant with one word… ‘Speeeeech!’ The fat arses looked around briefly for a moment, to see who this nutter was behind them, the rest of the spoken intro to “One’ continued, and the show went on. Despite all this drama, we still ended up having one of the nights of our lives. Which leads on to how and why I find myself back in this city 26 years later, not with the Mrs this time, but with 4 of my Friday night drinking buddies, having worn them down over the years with this and other tales from my U2 life, they accompany me on this part of my personal ‘journey’ with this band, this night.
Friday nights are a tradition in these parts for my generation. The numbers vary, depending on who is out that week. We have a regular watering hole where we meet, then wander around the local pubs in loud conversation, banter, pisstsaking, karaoke and watching whatever solo artist or covers-band happens to be in town. Sometimes we push the boat out and venture further afield, but the spirit is constant. Sometimes aggravating… infuriating. Sometimes belly-laugh funny as the cares of the working week are let go and the alcohol does it’s work. Sometimes heated, especially when the conversation gets around to politics or religion or the dreaded upcoming Brexit (for some of us), or why we are here, why we exist… and other light hearted stuff. Sometimes when I am feeling mischievous I remind this bunch of misfits, some of who I have known since schooldays, that I only hang out with them because they are my living social experiment. That goes down well as you might imagine… In truth these folk are my friends. As imperfect and beautiful as friends come.
I have often been at U2 shows and had a moment when I though, gee, I wish he was here… Oh wow, she would love this bit… I have heard other fans talk about this phenomena too. An invocation of ghosts that can appear to accompany the thrill of being at a U2 show… something like that. Well, with this lot I am with tonight, this dreamy manifestation that has been invoked into being; its not so much as being in the company of ghosts tonight, but more apt a title for this gang, we will go with ‘The Spooky Clowns’. One is a Hard Brexiteer. One is a People’s Vote staunch Remainer. One has never been to a rock show. One is a long-time ‘casual’ U2 fan, but never seen them live. As we travel down in the car (a bit bigger than a Mini), the banter starts early, the piss-taking and rib-digging about how this ‘better be fucking good, dragging us down to this palaver of a fucking-Friday!’ quite relentless.
That mood kind of changes completely the minute we walk not the Manchester Arena... yapping stops. Gobs and eyes a bit wider than usual. Don’t think they were quite expecting what presents itself within touching distance. The giant screen, the 2 stages either end.. wheres the Amps? Where’s the PA? Who is the support band? Where do we fucking stand? (We were in GA). Instead of trying to curate each and every moment of the night for them, after sorting them out with a beer, I stand back a few paces and let the magic do its work. Yep, thats Adam & Edge IN the screen. Which was a (barri)cage just seconds ago… Yep, Charlie Chaplin is The Great Dictator. Yep, thats also a drum kit and a drummer, drumming IN the screen. The Blackout begins. The Brexiteer is bouncing. The Remainer has disappeared down the front cos the opening chords of I Will Follow crack out, (where he remains attached to the front rail for the rest of the night, aged 16 again). The Rock-show virgin and the casual U2 fan both looked happily confused for much of the night, phones constantly in and out of pockets capturing as many moments as possible, whist trying to make sense of whats going on around them. We have hit a lucky night in that this floor space has a bit more room to wander than the recent European shows, which means I can tip them off about some good vantage points as the show progresses, they start getting the hang of it…
I manage to take in some special moments from Manchester 2018 version of the U2 experience. Only feet away from Larry Mullen Jr, I am sure we catch each other’s eye, I think a tiny nod, a raised eyebrow! Was that the hint of a smile. I must be drunk. Can’t be. I am designated driver. That man can drum like no one else. It's his band in a line next to him. It’s his crew that put up this whole show each night, then take it down again and drag it around the World. It’s his audience that pay for it. As Bono reminds us. The Spooky Clowns phrase it well just after the show, ˜How fucking close did we get to see U2! - We were even closer to them than we were that covers band in the local boozer last week. How dio they do that???!!!’
Tender, tender moments too, like the feelings expressed during tonights intro to ‘One’ about how sad the singer, and the rest fo Europe are about the (dis)United Kingdom are, knowing we are leaving the European family soon. And the spoken prayer that becomes ’13’, for those lost in the Manchester bombing just yards away is sincere and received by all around me. The defining moment from tonight, as experience truly meets innocence once again, will forever be as the band are well into their set on the e-stage, Elevation, Vertigo, and Bono is telling us all us about the time his brother does the put down, asking who the hell he thinks he is, he is not a rock star etc etc. I have heard versions of this bit of the story told before at recent shows, but the big guy just to my left with a mad look in his eye obviously hasn’t, and with something he needs to get off his chest he suddenly lurches forward, 20 feet from the band and screams “Just play the fucking music Paul!”… I want to stop him, want to challenge hm, but why should I? I wanted to tell him to wait just a few seconds, hear the man out, he will get it if he waits for the punchline… Too late - big mad eye guy on left has stepped back, having had his moment. Wonder if his ears are open enough to hear the next bit… Paul? I’m not Paul! Paul is DEAD! I’m fucking BONO!’ Even Better Than The Real Thing fires up. And the big guy (him and me), are dancing.
The tender echoes of a past overlapping with a now, presenting the possibilities of a different tomorrow. Again
O la la Madrid You are hot!
The weather is hot!
The people are hot!
The band and the audience are extremely hot!
I dont speak Spanish but boy can I feel the Spanish rhythm tonight...
From the moment we started jumping we never stopped! People dancing, people singing so passionately, Everybody is taking us higher tonight!
Bono asking the audience for the Spanish word for a mullet, which we still dont know hahah
The visuals on the screen are amazing!!! That Hold me Thrill me Kiss me animation wow Wow Wow I am in love!
I’m blown away by the new version of New Years Day! its something I would like to hear every day, that bass goes through your body no matter where you are in the venue!
Yes! We! you! All! looked so beautiful tonight!
Lets do it all again for the second night
Muchas Muchas Much Gracias Madrid
It's with a very heavy heart that I write this review. The U2 gig in Manchester on Friday 19th October was a great day for celebration as it was my Nan's 104th birthday (she's still going strong) so we started the day with her in Warwick before jumping on the train to Manchester for the gig with my dad. Unknown at the time was it would be the last time I spent time with my dad as he passed away a few days after the gig.
We both had an amazing time, the setlist was great, the visuals were amazing and we sang our lungs out to the old classics.
Happy happy memories. I just hope that one of the songs on the 2019 subscriber gift will be from that night. A big ask and highly unlikely but it would make it so much more special.
There is a light
We can't always see
If there is a world
We can't always be
If there is a dark
That we shouldn't doubt
And there is a light Don't let it go out
There's a certain rush that comes to me when I see U2. I got it the first time I saw them, on the Innocence & Experience tour at this exact London venue three years ago. Back then I thought it was just the mad excitement of finally getting to see my favourite band live for the first time, but I still get it now every time I see them. Tonight is no exception.
Opening a rock show with footage of war-torn cities post WWII and Chaplin's famous Great Dictator speech is a bold move, one that demonstrates a band in their latter years still looking to surprise and shock their audience. Ultimately what seems like a downbeat opening at first wrong-foots you, building to a huge crescendo along with Chaplin's speech - footage of the Trump baby balloon flying over London gets a particularly loud cheer from the audience, and, from there, taking us on from the sheer rallying, empowering high of that intro, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr draw us on a true adventure of a show. As the bridge descends from the barricage during opener The Blackout and reveal U2, it is but a hint of the night we are in for.
As The Blackout fades away and three quarters of the band take to the main stage, the urgent strings of Lights of Home sound out across the room. This is the biggest opening one-two punch of any U2 show I've seen. Lights of Home is particularly dramatic, as Bono muses on the verses while desperately belting out choruses. This performance is a representation of Bono's fight with a near-fatal illness almost two years ago. All the while he ascends the proverbial stairway to heaven as the bridge tilts upwards, then down again as the singer drops to his knees, seemingly preparing to exit the mortal realm, before metaphorically declaring "Nope, not done yet!" and descending back to the floor in a moment of stunning euphoria.
"We're a band from the north side of Dublin, called the U2..." Anyone who's ever been to a show and has heard this knows we're about to get something from 4 decades ago - in this case, I Will Follow and Gloria. which get me and the rest of the rabble jumping up and down and belting out the words nowhere near as tunefully as Bono, but hopefully with similar passion. A masterful, uplifting rendition of Beautiful Day draws the same effect, as do many other songs throughout the night.
It's a show full of countless "pinch yourself" moments. The moment Bono is listing off European cities and ending with "...Berlin..." before Edge strums the huge intro to Zoo Station. Witnessing The Fly played with singer and guitarist right in front of me on the barricage. Realising that I'm actually hearing Stay AND Wild Horses played live in the flesh. The moment when Bono has his back to the camera projecting onto the screen singing "Even the greatest stars..." then turns round and, boy oh boy, it's Mr MacPhisto. The moment MacPhisto's half funny, half frightening speech gives way to Acrobat. The moment the EU flag rises behind the band and engine-like synths herald a beefed-up New Year's Day. I could go on.
The lightning rod for the night is, without a doubt, Bono. Whether he's struggling up the stairway to heaven during Lights of Home, throwing himself back and forth during The Fly, twirling and curtsying with exaggerated effect as The Showman during the 'Vertigo' chapter of the show, or imploring us to be the best versions of ourselves with speeches throughout the show, almost everything he says and does is worth paying attention to. Of course, however, the others are of equal importance - Edge delivering huge, spine-tingling guitar lines, Adam pretty much flirting with an entire arena with his infectious basslines and equally infectious smile, and Larry's thunderous, intense drumming holding everything together.
This will probably be the last time we get a U2 tour for a while, and it's a show that makes me shout for joy, laugh, sing and cry sometimes separately, sometimes all at once. We end the show in a very different place to where we started - and, as I watch Bono cast away the lightbulb of his bedroom on Cedarwood Road during 13 (There Is a Light) with tears in my eyes, I understand it's the same place we started at on Innocence & Experience three years ago. "Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience". What a show. What a band. Quite simply the best.
I’ve said this before (but this time I mean it!!) U2 yet again draw me back in if I ever had any moments of doubt! Wild horses in particular was a standout for me and at one point as they were all together at the end I thought wow the energy was amazing!! During stay I got a bit emotional and two complete strangers one beside me and a lady behind me asked if I was ok so sweet.. damn u2 they know how to set me off! Not sure London can top Manchester but let’s find out ?
Maybe the time is right, maybe tonight
Since 1981 I haven’t missed a single U2 Tour in The Netherlands and with all European gigs the Experience & Innocence concerts in Amsterdam were number 39 and 40 on my list. The first night was great, I managed to avoid a lot of spoilers and was quite surprised with the new screen, the visuals and the sound off course. That day brought my both long-life loves together as the famous Ajax football club played a home game in the Johan Cruijff ArenA after which it was just a few steps to the Ziggo Dome to see my favorite band.
On Monday I felt a bit worn out, it’s not just the band that’s getting older, and dragged myself to the venue to get a decent spot on the floor. When we entered the railing outside of the Red Zone was still available, so that mission was accomplished and I could see the second night from a whole other perspective.
Since the beginning of the European leg of this tour the band was quite consistent in the setlist, a few minor changes from the first to the second night, but some new songs were added and they’re great. Especially the less famous Achtung Baby songs like ‘Who’s gonna ride your wild horses’, ‘Zoo Station’ a full band 'Stay' and off course ‘Acrobat’ were a delight to hear again. The songs of the last album blended in perfectly and other highlight like ‘Elevation’, ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Vertigo’ are always great. ‘Pride’ was another highlight, because a small stage was setup in both Red Zones and I was just a meter away from my favorite band member Adam Clayton!
Another highlight is the new arrangement of ‘New Years’ Day’ where a long forgotten lyric came back: ‘Maybe the time is right, maybe tonight?’ And the answer to that question is yes, these were great nights and hopefully the last words of Bono aren’t another ‘we have to dream it all up again’ message...
If so, we're still up for a 30th anniversary of the ZOO TV Tour in about four years.
There's all kind of magic in this world, but U2 is the one I love best. Especially in nights like this one.
Bono thanked the portuguese fans for their patience. Well, to be honest, every u2 fan as learnt patience is a virtue with this band. The more you wait, the better it gets. And it wasn't an exception to the rule. It sure had been a while since our four favorite Irish men stepped foot in Portugal, but tonight… tonight made up for a decade of absence.
What a show. What. A. Show. I'd gladly say I have no words but since I'm writing thid it’d probably be lying. And yet, I'm not sure I have words strong enough to describe this feeling buzzing inside of me right now. Hands still shaking, breath slowly returning to normal, blood pressure slightly off the roof for the next week or so. They're good. They're very very good.
Sometimes, when stars align or something like that, band and audience seem in complete osmosis. I think that's what happen tonight. The band was on top shape, Bono's voice could have blown up that wooden roof, and the audience was seemingly very very happy to have them back. It was loud. Like proper loud. Like rocket to the sky loud! Wow. Big fat wow. I probably lost half of my hearing for the next month or so but I'm so glad I did. Because you know what? This loud sound? It's not just yelling or singing. It's joy. It's joy in its purest form. And of course so much love. You can never get enough of that. Love is bigger than anything in its way.
It was the kind of show that makes you leave the ground to a faraway place with no name. It was rock’n’roll, it was kind, it was emotional, it was resilient. It was everything you need a rock show to be. The kind of show that turn you into a walking paradox. You can barely walk because your legs hurt so much from jumping, you can hardly breath evenly, your soaked in your own sweat and tears. And yet, you've got the biggest smile you can have on your face.
First gig I do this tour, and from the moment the introduction began, I knew we were up for something special. That something special is a gift they give us every single time, even if we don't necessarily realize it. They push us to be the best of ourselves. I've always found completely amazing how after walking out of music show, I could think that I could do everything. That nothing was impossible. I always felt empowered by some kind of gentle spirit whispering into my ears “you can do something. You can change the world.” Tonight? Hell yeah I can.
If innocence was quite an emotional journey to the past, an introspective of our inner selves, a path back to those days past and gone to deal with the ghosts that might still haunt us, Experience looks very different.
It feels like a journey to the future. To a better world. To a fairer world. Another path guiding us toward something we all want deep down. Love and peace or else. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of inspiration. And thank god we can always rely on u2 for that.
There's all kind of magic in this world, but U2 is the one I love best. And that's probably because they don't only give me music, they also give me hope.
I don't know when our paths will cross again, but like the friends I made on this madness of a road called being a U2 fan, I'll miss you dearly U2. Another time, another place… I will follow. Always.
Thank you for giving us new dreams tonight and turning the ordinary into extraordinary once more. Thanks for the magic. Thanks for the joy. Thanks for being now and forever the best band in the north side of Dublin (or you know, north side of this universe if you ask me.)
Brilliant show tonight and even though not in the stadium you could feel Bono’s emotions coming through the wires loud and clear during “One Tree Hill.” “Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way” was another highlight. Goosebumps hearing a chorus of voices from New Zealand singing it so strong. Looking forward to what they have up their sleeves for tomorrow night.
myself and my wife came over from kildare ,stayed 2 nights in manchester., seen u2 on elevation tour in manchester also. But have to say 1st night for me was up there with the best nights.... chicago 2015,new york 2009, boston 2001, slane 2001, point depot 1989,milton keynes -croke park 1985,sfx 1982, rds 1982 , hammersmith palais london 1981 all great nights. Manchester 2018 definitley up there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were lucky to get 2 tkts for dublin 2018 but for the 1st time was asked to sit down not ounce but twice at a u2 concert