Great googly moogly, that stage is huge; that was the only thing I could think for a while after walking into Soldier Field. Spiking at 167 feet in the air, spanning the entire width of the field and extending to almost the 50 yard line, U2 certainly spared no expense with its latest eye-dazzling creation. I had seen pictures of it before, but just as seeing pictures of Mt. Everest does not do justice to its gargantuan size, so too does pictures of this stage. Like a giant spider, most fans were left in awe of the monstrosity. According to this article, the tour costs $750,000 per day, whether they’re playing or not.
And, like the stage, Bono spared no expense on the entertainment. The opener, “Even Better Than the Real Thing” got the night off and running in a grand fashion. “Mysterious Ways” brought on a loud roar, and Bono let the crowd serenade him during “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The fans on the field fed off of Bono’s energy, and vice-versa. Jumping in unison with the beat, hands swaying, it was the most energetic crowd I’ve ever seen.
That leads me to a quick note about the stadium. This was my first time seeing Soldier Field, and my only thought was, “How does anybody come in here and beat the Bears?” The cheers at some points were absolutely deafening; this for a U2 show. I can’t imagine how loud it gets on 3rd and long with the Bears needing a crucial stop. Also, the winds swirl like crazy. A little before the show started, I felt a stiff breeze at my back. I then looked to the flag at the top of the stadium, and saw that it was blowing in the opposite direction from which I felt the wind close to field level. It’s a wonder anyone can make a field goal there.
Back to the show. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband made an appearance via video feed from the space shuttle to help kick off “Beautiful Day.” The classic – and song that got me hooked to U2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” brought the energy to another stratosphere. An interesting Discotheque remix to “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” preceded “Sunday Bloody Sunday” which of course was the loudest sing-along of the night.
I was surprised at how few songs were played from their most recent album, “No Line On the Horizon.” Other than “I’ll Go Crazy,” “Get On Your Boots” and “Moment of Surrender” were the only other songs played. “Magnificent” was certainly the song that people missed.
“One” and “Where the Streets Have No Name” packed a powerful one-two punch in the first encore, and it was clear that no matter how loud it got, the cheers just kept growing. “We’ve played some loud shows before,” Bono began, but didn’t finish, as he was drowned out by yet more cheering.
The setlist throughout the tour has been mostly the same for each show save for a couple variations, but U2 managed to pull out a huge surpise. After “Moment of Surrender,” which has normally been the closer for the night, they pulled out “One Tree Hill” in memory of their friend Greg Carroll, a song which has not been played in the U.S. since 1987. Bono prefaced it by saying, “Here’s the deal: if we screw up really badly, you guys don’t put it on the internet,” which brought laughter and a moment of spontaneity to an otherwise very well choreographed performance. They have eight shows left on their schedule, including a stop at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, so if you haven’t seen these guys before, do so.
Link to Chicago setlist: http://www.u2.com/tour/date/id/4495.