It is not too often that my sleepy hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada gets to host a band the size of U2. Since their concert was announced this past winter, anticipation for last night’s show has been running high in the city.
If you can appreciate that Wikipedia pages have to be taken with a grain of salt, take a look at the Wiki page for the U2 360 Tour that began in 2009 and concluded just more than 9 hours ago (as of press time). The page will help you get an understanding of how bloody big this tour has been and why Moncton hosting the final date on their 2.5 year long tour is a crazy badge of honor for the city.
Last night’s show was a global event; people from all over the world came to Moncton. Bono said it on stage last night, “more than 7 million served” over the span of the U2 360 Tour, helping make the tour the biggest grossing of all time. Let’s face it, it is a record that U2 themselves will probably break the next time they decide to tour the world.
Around 7:30 last evening, Arcade Fire took to the stage, opening with Ready To Start from their Grammy-Award winning record The Suburbs before moving into Keep The Car Running. They delivered knockout after knockout, playing Month Of May and Rebellion (Lies) as if their lives depended on it. Simply put, these guys stole the show in my books. The energy and enthusiasm Arcade Fire had on stage was incredible. This wasn’t their crowd and it seemed to me like they went on stage consciously aware of the fact they stood to win a few fans if they played their cards right. I think it’s safe to say they accomplished that in Moncton on Saturday night.
While there is no way that Arcade Fire would have played to such a significant crowd (75,000 at the very least) had they come to Moncton on their own, Arcade Fire is a major band in their own right. In the past few days, they played to more than 7000 people in Halifax, Nova Scotia this past Thursday and then delighted a conservative 800 or so fans at the awesome SappyFest Music Festival in Sackville, NB on Friday night. I am seriously kicking myself for not having taken in one of their other shows while they were here in Atlantic Canada. Hopefully it won’t be long until they come back to the region.
Just before 9:30 last night, U2 walked on stage to thunderous cheers, opening their show with Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly and Mysterious Ways. Though there is no way you could keep everyone happy with the songs played last night, I personally thought that some of the band’s song choices a bit odd. The group intertwined decent newer songs like Get On Your Boots and Moment Of Surrender with “classic” songs like I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, With Or Without You and I Will Follow, but throwing Miss Sarajevo into the middle of the set effectively killed the momentum they had built up, or so I thought. I’m sure there are 74,981 people that will probably disagree with that statement, that the song was a part of the natural ebb and flow to any live show and in one way, I agree that not all shows can run on 10 for a full 2.5 hours. So I’m moving on from that point now…
Visually, the U2 show was like nothing I have ever seen and that ended up being a big part of the experience as well. While I might not have enjoyed every freakin’ song the band played, I was more than happy to be watching the big screens and merely taking everything in. At point in their career, I think that U2 are acutely aware that getting up on stage with little in the way of fanfare or visual stimulation ain’t gonna fly. People have come to expect so much from the group’s concerts, God knows where they will take their live show from here. It’s going to be a hard tour to top.
On stage, Bono was chatty (which I thought was phenomenal) and by taking the time to thank the band’s management and the many people responsible for having brought the tour to 7 million faces, he showed the group was not simply going through the motions of this being just another rock show last night. Frankly though, as the show progressed, I think the enormity of the tour coming to a close weighed heavily on the band and I felt that it started to show. If U2 intended the final date of the 360 Tour to be a celebration, I thought that it was a subdued one in some ways.
And that is ultimately what I am taking away from the show. It was a great first date for U2 and I, but I think that after last night, my heart is definitely with Arcade Fire for the long haul.
Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts on the show.