[Editor’s note: This guest post was written by my little brother Ezra, who attended the U2 show in Baltimore on Wednesday night. This is his second or third guest post here.]
As I was walking out of M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore Wednesday night after seeing U2, one of the most mind-blowing performances I had ever witnessed, I was at a loss for words. Just one word kept on playing through my mind: incredible. Everything about the night was simply incredible. The fantastic light show, the complex stage, the pure energy of the 75,000+ crowd. Everything was incredible.
I would not consider myself to be a die-hard U2 fan. Sure, I know a good number of their songs. I can even recite a few songs word for word, like Sunday Bloody Sunday and Where the Streets Have No Name. It certainly isn’t like a Pearl Jam show, where I would be disappointed with myself if I can’t recognize a song within 3 seconds of it starting. But even so, it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
When I heard about this show and knew that U2 always puts on a phenomenal performance, I knew that I had to go. This show was the talk of the whole city this week, and people probably won’t stop talking about it until the end of the summer. This concert was THE event of the summer in Baltimore, and I believe it was the largest concert in Baltimore history; certainly the largest concert I’ve ever been to. [Edit: The editorial staff at TSU can neither confirm nor dispute the author’s claim that this was the largest concert in Baltimore history.] The Ravens’ stadium was packed, even with the standing room on the field and inside the stage. My friends and I decided to skip driving downtown and avoid the insane traffic and parking, and instead take the local light rail. However, there were so many people at this show that both the streets and the light rail were packed. No matter where you tried to go, there were more and more concertgoers.
The crowd at the concert was very diverse. There were teenagers, college students, young couples, and older couples. There were dads and their sons. Moms and their daughters. Casual fans and die-hard fans alike. As the older couple sitting in front of us said to my friends and me, “I’ve been listening to U2 from before you were born.” [Edit: As interesting as this factoid may be, the editor of the blog would like to remind the author that he too has been listening to U2 since before you were born. #justsaying]
The show was opened up in the late afternoon by Florence and the Machine. I had never heard of them, but their performance was very interesting. Florence (or Flo as my friends and I liked to call her) literally ran and danced around the stage barefoot, her long red dress and red hair flowing behind her. Her voice was phenomenal and she was able to reach high notes that I didn’t even know existed. The music itself was interesting as well, switching from soft songs to harder songs, to songs that were just plain weird. It was interesting, but most of the seats were empty, as people were still on their way to the show, or else getting drunk in the parking lot.
Then, around 9 PM, just as the sun set in the distance, U2 finally emerged. I say emerged because they came up from a small stairway from under the stage. The immense stage was shaped something like a peace symbol, with an outer circular platform connected to a large circle in the middle where the drum set and equipment was located. Bridges connecting the circle to the outer platform were constantly rotating, as was the drum set. Bono and co. walked and danced down all of the platforms and bridges throughout the night, above the lucky fans who were standing between the outer platform and the inner circle. On top of the stage was an enormous claw-shaped, futuristic arch that looked like tentacles of some space-monster. On top of the claw-arch was a pointed tower which lit up different colors, along with the arch. Between the arch and the stage were giant screens that showed live close-up views of the show combined with other miscellaneous clips. They showed clips of Middle Eastern conflict during Sunday Bloody Sunday, some strange futuristic clips, such as aliens whistling to the tune of Where the Streets Have No Name, and some vintage of clips of the band in Berlin back in the day. The screens themselves were actually made up of smaller interlocked screens, and everyone was taken by surprise when the screen gradually expanded until it surrounded the band like a cage. The screen expanded, contracted, moved up, and moved down. The smoke machines blew smoke as the lights changed colors constantly. Oh, and there was also music being played.
The concert started with a recorded version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which then went straight into Even Better Than the Real Thing, a song off of U2’s album “Achtung Baby.” They then followed with three more songs off of Achtung Baby until they played a great version of fan-favorite I Will Follow. They played more popular songs such as I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride (In the Name of Love), and Beautiful Day, mixed in with songs that were lesser known but still just as entertaining. One incredible segment of the show was in the middle of the first set, when they played City of Blinding Lights and then went straight into a rocking Vertigo. One of my personal favorites, Sunday Bloody Sunday, was played a few songs later, and a little bit later on, the set ended with Walk On and cover You’ll Never Walk Alone. A great first set.
A few minutes later, the encore started, beginning a set that was probably the best of the show. The encored opened up with One, which then went into a chilling rendition of Bono and the crowd singing Amazing Grace. That in turn went straight into an amazing performance of Where the Streets Have No Name, one of my personal favorites. A few songs later, they played an incredible version of With or Without You, possibly the best performance of the night. Then they turned out the lights and Bono told everyone to turn on their cell phones as a tribute to the great Clarence Clemons. The concert ended with Moment of Surrender into Bruce Springsteen cover Jungleland. A phenomenal end to the show.
In all, the concert was one of the most impressive I’ve ever been to. The music was great, but the light show, the stage, and the energy of the stadium were what made the night incredible. There was no bad seat in the house, and no disappointed fan in the stands. Even though I didn’t know all of the songs, I was still blown away by a truly incredible performance.