Special Guest post by Mike Ponke
Finally after a year of postponement, U2 brought its hugely successful 360° Tour to Spartan Stadium. This is only the second time U2 has played in East Lansing with the previous show happening at Dooley’s (now Harper’s) back in 1981. This show marked their 98th concert of the Tour which began in Barcelona, Spain back in June of 2009. The Tour has spanned 5 continents and will wrap up in Moncton, Canada at the end of July.
As excited as I was about seeing U2 live, I was equally nervous about getting to the stadium early enough to get a spot close to the stage. We entered the stadium and briskly walked to the south end of the field to get a spot as close as we could to the front. The stage (nicknamed “the Claw”) stood over 160 feet tall and had four legs descending down from a gigantic screen which could be seen from any angle. The stage itself was circular with two bridges on tracks that could swing around the stage and allowed the performers access to an outer ring which surrounded the stage. If you were looking at it from above it would probably look like a Target© symbol. It looked like much of the area inside the outer catwalk (aka the “inner circle”) had already been filled but we were still ecstatic as we got a spot center stage about 3 rows outside of the surrounding catwalk. The guy directly in front of me said he had been waiting in line since 1:00pm and I found it difficult to mask my jubilation as we took in our surroundings.
Logan (who will hereby be known as “the Mayor”) quickly made sure that we introduced ourselves and knew everyone by name within about a 15 foot radius of where we were standing. It was fun getting to know the fans around us and it also proved helpful as we were easily able to make our way back to our spots when we left to purchase sodas to mix our drinks or use the bathroom.
Florence and the Machine came on stage just after 7:00pm to a stadium that looked at about 75% capacity. Admittedly, I had only heard a few songs from the band but was pleasantly surprised as their soothing sounds resonated throughout the crowd. Florence wrapped up their set with their radio hit “Dog Days are Over” and the crowd applauded as lead singer, Florence Welch, belted out the lyrics.
At about 8:45pm, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. made their way through an entrance on the south side of the stadium while David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” played over the sound system. The band opened with “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and Bono got the crowd into it early by shouting “Go Green, Go White” and continued with three more songs from “Achtung Baby”, including “Mysterious Ways.”
The band followed by playing “Get On Your Boots” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” before playing “Beautiful Day” as the sun set and the stage illuminated Spartan Stadium. Bono played to the crowd talking about everything from current events to the Edge’s desire to buy a small cabin on Lake Michigan.
U2’s set list included songs new and old and spanned over three decades. Fans cheered loudly and danced during “Elevation” and “Vertigo” while singing along to more mellow tunes such as “Walk On”. At one point the massive circular screen descended from the top of the structure and extended all the way down to the stage to completely surround the band in an amazing light show. It seemed at times we were so memorized by the stage that we almost didn’t see the band members when they were out on the catwalk just 10 feet away from us.
Just before the encore we began making our way to the back of the crowd which allowed us to get a better view of the stage that lit up the sky. It really was amazing how it could turn a football stadium into a relatively intimate setting and it appeared that there really weren’t any bad seats in the venue.
The band came back on stage for the encore and saved some of the best for last including “One”, “Where The Street’s Have No Name” and “With Or Without You”. We made our way out of the north tunnel exit during “Moment of Surrender”, the final song of the evening. It really was incredible how clearly you could still hear the music as we crossed the Red Cedar until the song finally ended as we reached Grand River.
Two days later, my ears were still had a little ringing in them. But I’d have to say it was well worth it. I’m not sure what U2 has in the works for their next tour, but they certainly set the bar high after this one.
If you want to get a closer look at the crowd, check out this link. http://www.u2.com/gigapixelfancam/110626
You’ll find me in the back waiting in line to use the bathroom. (I’m wearing a red shirt.)
Special thanks to Scott and Krista for the tickets and to Andy and Katie for the tailgating accommodations.
1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
2. The Fly
3. Mysterious Ways
4. Until The End Of The World
5. I Will Follow
6. Get On Your Boots
7. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
9. Beautiful Day
11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
12. Miss Sarajevo
14. City Of Blinding Lights
16. Crazy Remix/Discotheque
17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
19. Walk On
21. Where The Streets Have No Name
22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
23. With Or Without You
24. Moment Of Surrender