U2‘s Innocence + Experience tour nearly came to an extremely premature end at the end of opening night when the Edge took a nasty tumble into the audience, and on the second consecutive show at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena Bono joined the many people on the Internet today cracking jokes about the incident. “Somebody said that the Edge had downloaded himself into the audience without asking permission,” he said. “I thought that was great.”
Considering this was only the second show of a tour utilizing an incredibly complex stage and a ton of brand new songs, the group could have easily played it safe by replicating opening night, but they opted to mix it up. Here’s eight ways in which it differed.
They Honored B.B. King. It was a given that U2 would find a way to honor the blues legend since they recorded and toured together in the 1980s, becoming close friends in the process. It came fifteen songs in when they moved to the B stage. “This is a very special occasion for anyone who loves the blues,” Bono told the crowd. “For this is the day that the world got to say goodbye to the great B.B. King. That is a special occasion indeed.” They then played “When Loves Come To Town” for the first time in 23 years. Hearing the tune with Bono covering all of King’s lines was a sad reminder that B.B. truly is gone. “Wow,” Bono said at the end. “The thrill will never be gone.”
They Fiddled With the First Few Songs. Like on night one they opened with “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone),” but this time they went right into “Vertigo” afterwards and cut “Out of Control.” They followed that up with “California (There Is No End To Love),” which wasn’t played at the previous show. “Out of Control” is one of the only old deep cuts they’ve done so far, so it was a bummer to see it go. That said, “California (There Is No End to Love)” worked wonderfully. It was a wise substitution for “The Troubles,” a Songs of Innocence track that didn’t quite pop at the first show and didn’t make a repeat appearance.
Rattle and Hum Came to the B Stage. The middle portion of the show features many songs on the catwalk that connects the main stage to the B stage. This portion is pretty carefully choreographed and the songs flow into each other thematically, so its unlikely to change much throughout the tour. When the entire band gets to the B stage, however, they’re crammed together in a pretty tight space and nothing they do is tied to video screens. This gives them freedom to play basically whatever they want. On opening night it was “The Sweetest Thing” and “Desire,” but at this show it was the previously mentioned “When Loves Comes To Town” along with “Angel of Harlem,” two gems from Rattle and Hum that had the entire place singing along to every word. Hopefully they’ll continue to use this part of the night to break out rarities.
Bono Got Carried Like a Baby By a Fan. It’s a pretty common sight at a U2 concert for a Bono to bring up a woman to dance, but during “Mysterious Ways” he grabbed a super intense male fan wearing a “Mr. The Edge” t-shirt and a turban and brought him onto the catwalk. Bono mirrored a lot of the fans crazy moves as they sang face-to-face before the dude literally picked Bono up like a baby and carried him to the B stage. Bono never flinched a even sang a bit of the song in the guys arms. That guy has a story to tell for a long, long time.
The Encores Began With a Super Random Song. If there was some sort of U2 fantasy setlist pool and someone picked the 2005 deep cut “Miracle Drug” to begin the encore they’d probably score about 10,000 points. They hadn’t touched the track since 2005, though it did tie in nicely with Bono’s public service announcement later in the show about the need to get crucial AIDS drugs to the Third World. It was also a nice sign that any song in their catalog is fair game, so maybe one day we’ll finally get “Acrobat” or “Drowning Man.”
They Played “Bad” This 1984 tune about drug addiction is one of the best live songs in U2’s catalog, but in recent years it has become somewhat of a rarity. On the 110-date 360° tour, “Bad” only made 14 appearances, so the opening notes sent shockwaves of joy through the audience. Bono belted it out from the B stage while the rest of the band played on the opposite end of the arena. It was absolutely magnificent, maybe the best part of the whole night. It’s sort of like the Grateful Dead and “Dark Star.” They knew if they played the epic tune too often it would lose its power, so it only came out on special occasions.
They Swapped in a New Closer. The opening night wrapped up with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and the Edge falling off the stage, so it made sense for them to rethink that portion of the evening. This time they opted for “One,” which was absent on opening night for the first time ever at a U2 concert since the song was written. Bono usually plays guitar on this, but his accident made that impossible. The Edge handled all the guitar parts without any difficulty.
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Bono Carefully Escorted the Edge Off the Stage. After their final bows, the group walked the length of the catwalk and exited off the B stage. Not wanting to pass up another chance to gently mock his friend, Bono put his arm around the Edge and they walked it together. “I think,” Bono said, “we should walk with the Edge.” After five weeks of rehearsals in Vancouver, the group is now off to San Jose, California and then the rest of the world.
“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”
“California (There Is No End To Love)”
“I Will Follow”
“Iris (Hold Me Close)”
“Song for Someone”
“Sunday Bloody Sunday”
“Raised By Wolves”
“Until the End of the World”
“Even Better Than The Real Thing”
“Angel of Harlem”
“When Love Comes To Town”
“Every Breaking Wave”
“Bullet The Blue Sky”
“Pride (In The Name of Love)”
“With or Without You”
“Where The Streets Have No Name”