After the baseball game I headed over to Key Arena for the U2 show with Kings of Leon. I rushed to get there before it started at 7 pm, or so I thought, and after I had my ticket scanned and I was in the doors I noticed that the show actually started at 7:30 pm. Oh well…
When Kings of Leon took the stage much of the floor and many of the seats were still empty. They started out with the song that is playing in the current car ad on TV for I think the VW Jetta or maybe a Toyota. They went on to mostly play songs on their new CD. I had listen to the CD a few times on the trip to Canada and while the vocals did not sound as good as the CD the music itself was fairly good. Personally I think that KoL is kind of a weird fit for a U2 crowd. A friend I saw the next night said he felt like they were a band that would never be good to see in a large venue. I am not quite sure I agree but it is an interesting observation about them. I had sold my extra tickets to a couple people at work I had never met and they ended up being very fun people. One commented that she had seen KoL open for White Stripes and that seems like more of a fit for the crowd. One of the things that struck me was that the lead singer of KoL said, “thank you for being respectful while we play.” You do not hear a lot of bands say things like that. My seat was about a 45 degree angle to the midpoint of the front of the stage and I was 15 rows off of the floor. At the bottom of my section was something I had never seen at a concert. There were two people alternating the signing of the show. There were at least 10 deft people sitting in the section who would watch the interpreters sign each song. It looked to me that it was all gestures to connote ideas and never did they ever spell out lyrics. One of the other people I sat with made the comment that they had seen it at a Pearl Jam show so maybe it is more common than I think it might be.
Before I get to U2 and their set I want to talk about the setup of the stage. It in and of itself was very cool. Key Arena is a standard box shape arena. The stage area is at one end and pushes out to a little pass the baseline of where a basketball court would begin. The interesting thing about the setup for U2 was that they had this elliptical shaped walkway that does out into the crowd and in the Key went out a little over half way across the floor – past the center of the court for basketball especially when you add in the space for the barricade between the stage and the fans. The U2 site has new info on how you can get inside the ellipse and close to the stage, basically a random luck of the draw for the people with floor GA tickets. Personally I think being in the seats is the place to be for this show. The walkway itself has cool lights on it that you cannot see from the floor. They had the lights synced up so a pattern would trace around the ellipse and then onto the main part of the stage where it would swirl around to a point. Some of the stuff they did with the lights on the walkway reminded me a bit of the Vertigo video. The light rack for the stage was also very impressive. In the back two they had seven guys working spotlights. The next row had one spot that was basically over the drummer. There were also two spot lights on the front of the light rack. Add in the two guys working spot lights in the rafters on either side of the back of the building and you have a lot of guys doing spotlight work. Used for great effect in the show where these sets of lights on strings that would come down for the ceiling like a curtain. There are enough in a set that they could basically show simple video using the string of lights – very cool.
U2 which I think is only like 10 dates into the first North American tour has been alternating between two sets. They took the stage right about 9 pm. They each were caring this big spotlight like flashlights as the walked around the ellipse and they actually played the first song out at the farthest point from the stage. There was a drum to bang on there and Bono put on a samurai headband and banged away as they jammed to Love And Peace. I think they played both Vertigo and Elevation before they even stopped to say hello to the crowd. They next played Cry/Electric Co. and An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart. It was around this point that they dropped a banner that had the album cover for Boy. Looking at the rigging it looked like they could have done this in other places with other banners but they did not do it again nor do I remember them dropping any banners on Monday night’s show. Early in the show Bono picked a teen age boy out of the crowd wearing a red shirt that said “Pick Me, Me, Me, Me” but he just stood there for 30 seconds and he was back into the center section of the ellipse. He pulled a girl out and they hugged and danced and they he gave her a piggyback ride along the walkway back to the stage. I believe he also pulled a third girl out and just kind of danced with her at one point. The Edge was the most active of the band outside of Bono walking around out on the walkway. He would also move off of the main part of the stage to go up and play keyboards on songs. Towards the end of the set they had put a mini keyboard out at the top of the ellipse and he and Bono played a song out there also. I cannot remember which song but I think it was All Because of You that the Edge played acoustic guitar and walked around as Bono sang. It was a cool mix of the song. During the encores Bono put one foot off of the ellipse walkway and onto the barricade and then even lead further out into the crowd so he was not on the walkway at all. He was basically being held out over the crowd by the security guards. The band started to walk off for the encore and Bono turned around and said “who are we fooling even one knows we will be back for an encore, let me tell you one thing encore is an Italian word and what do the Italians know?” and then they just started to jam.
I saw Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his wife at the show. I read in the paper that Bono was staying at his place on the Eastside. The paper also said that the Killers stopped by after their shows and that from Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder was there along with Stone Gossard. Also the Wilson sisters of the band Heart were in attendance. Speaking of the crowd I have to make a comment about them in general. It is not surprising that the crowd was a little older than normal shows that I seem to go to. Ticket prices of ~$170 for seats and ~$75 for the floor will tend to keep younger kids away. It was odd to see people wearing concerts shirts from bands like Metallica or the Scorpions at U2. I even saw one guy with an old jean’s jacket from a Journey tour.
Love and Peace
Cry/ Electric Co.
An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart
City of Blinding Lights
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
New Year’s Day
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running to Standstill
Pride in the name of love
Where the Streets have no name
All Because of You