Author Topic: Experience + Innocence Tour - Manchester Arena, 20/10/18 (Review)  (Read 421 times)

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Offline A_Fly_On_The_Wall

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So, last night I was witness to my third ever live concert performance from U2, at Manchester Arena for their “Experience + Innocence Tour”, and was treated to an absolutely amazing night all round yet again from my favourite band in the world so here goes my review of how events unfolded...

Starting off with high energy visual effects and hard-hitting images from various European countries around the early-to-mid 20th century displayed on the large LED screen, the band powered their way through to commence proceedings with The Blackout. What a killer live track this is and such a fantastic way to kick off a concert! After seeing the visual imagery on video uploads prior to this concert, I sort of knew what to expect with this opener but there is nothing like witnessing this in real life! The shadowy images reflected on the screen appear to come out of the screen at you as they flicker distortedly throughout the song; all while being played out with a rocking show stopper!

Leading in a subdued manner to the next song, Lights Of Home continues the “experience” theme on with Bono remaining within the split-screen staging as the other band members retreated to the main stage. Despite not being performed in the same blues-rock vein as the studio recording, I really enjoyed the band’s innovative take on this song and, thanks to the crowd participation with their smart phone torches, the entire arena lit up like the night sky providing a gorgeous backdrop to Bono’s silhouette as he knelt down whilst crying out “do you know my name?”.

As Bono yelled out “we’re a band from the North side of Dublin called ‘The U2’ and this is our new song”, the theme of the show instantly was thwarted back to innocence as the chiming rings of I Will Follow screeched out of the speakers from Edge’s iconic Gibson Explorer. This song always delivers on each and every single performance. The band seemed transported back to their early gigs of youth, angst, rage and post-punk as they smashed their way through the song in an instant taking us all along for the ride – experienced men playing an innocent group of boys’ song.

Continuing the rocking vibes of the previous song, Edge fired his way through the intro of All Because Of You which sounded incredible. Bono was on fine form powering through with his shouty vocals played off against Edge’s relentless riff and solo towards the end. Larry was an absolute machine on this performance and provided a quality back beat to push the song through – what a rocking anthem this is!

Beautiful Day quickly followed and, no matter how many times you hear it, it still sounds as fresh as ever! Always a crowd pleaser, and gets everyone up on their feet moving about, it was a great transition to end the first half segment of the show closing off with an uplifting tune to raise everybody’s spirits.

The rough and ready slide rock riff of Edge as he introduced Zoo Station quickly wiped away any shed of uplifting nature from the end of the previous song. The band now showcased the fact that they meant business and were determined to grab the audience’s attention whilst doing it. This track sounded absolutely amazing and the way Edge managed to transition between the heavy intro slide riff to the high-pitched main melodic riff in the chorus was epic. Again, Larry was on fire providing a classic Mullen drum beat and Adam’s bassline thunderously complimented him well.

Surprisingly, the band then let loose with The Fly coming into the frame which was a pleasant surprise indeed! Edge’s guitar tone in this song is bang on point and his solo was something to admire on every single level. I like how he and Bono faced off against each other in the split-screen above the catwalk in the song and the high-velocity combination of numbers, letters and words on the screen itself during the performance was something straight out of the “Zoo TV” playbook – if anyone was looking for a sequel to that tour then you can find it in this performance!

As Adam and Larry made their entrance to accompany Bono and Edge within the split-screen, the band commenced with the soft and slow ballad Stay (Faraway, So Close!). This song kind of brought the pumped up atmosphere within the arena to a slow halt but not in a bad way at all as the crowd came back into full voice to participate with the ending chants along with Bono and Edge which was awesome! Also, with this song, I could really appreciate Adam’s sultry bassline carrying the song well throughout which I enjoyed and it was nice to see the camaraderie between all the band members within the screen – they clearly still love playing along with each other throughout the tour!

With a flash and flicker of the LED screen, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses was next on the set-list for the band to bring to a close the first main set of songs. This song was absolutely stunning and the entire crowd were behind the band backing them up with accompanying vocals and watching in admiration at the sheer greatness of how this song feels when played live. One of my personal Bono highlights came in this song when he belted out “come on now love, don’t you look back” – the peak at which he hit those notes was incredible and I was in absolute awe.

The split-screen then came down to connect in the middle as the band disappeared for the intermission whilst Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me played over the speakers. Throughout the intermission, there was a cartoon strip-book which contained a cool story about U2 labelled as “Innocence and Experience: The Heroes’ Journey” which was actually rather good and made for a nice insight through the short break and kept me engaged with the show as a whole.

The band’s silhouettes then made their way onto a multi-coloured backdrop on the screen before the actual band members then walked out from inside the screen onto the “E” stage before kick-starting the second half of the show with Elevation. Yet again, the band absolutely smashed this song out of the park and got the crowd incredibly pumped and ready to rock! It is such a good rock song and is so brilliant when played live – the best way to start the next sequence of songs.

Vertigo quickly followed with little hesitation as the crowd joined in with the Spanish intro of “Uno, Dos, Trés, Catorcé!” which always gets me so excited! Once more, this song has a place in my heart forever as being one of the few tracks which you can really rock out to when witnessing this band play live. Also, the ending of this track was out of this world as Bono rallied the crowd into bouncing off his vocals of “oh, oh-oh, oh-oh” after the main song ended, and the music had quietened down, before smashing back into life to the delight of the crowd!

Next up, Bono made a small speech about growing up at 10 Cedarwood Road and trying to make it to the big-time with U2 as his neighbours and people local to the area would make condescending comments like “you’re just little Paul from number 10” before Bono came back to shout “Who’s Paul? Paul is dead... I’m f'in Bono!”

The band then blasted their way into a blitzing performance of Even Better Than The Real Thing which absolutely brought the house down and blew the roof off Manchester Arena! The visuals in this song were amazing as well as they were multi-coloured, with the help of a disco glitter ball, and Bono’s face was projected onto the mini-screen near the “E” stage which looked fantastic! This is such a great song and it completely took off when the band kicked it into overdrive at the “you take us higher” section towards the end – simply magnificent!

Then, the moment I had been anticipating more than any other part of the show was upon us. The return of “MacPhisto” was present and I absolutely loved his speech and the sinister filtered face projected onto the main screen – what a sublime moment in a fantastically crafted show. When MacPhisto’s speech drew to a close with Bono wailing “don’t believe what you hear, don’t believe what you see, if you just close your eyes, you can feel the enemy”, I got serious chills all over my body as I was so astounded by the whole aura of the moment and was taken aback when it finally occurred!

As the lights dimmed down, the band flew into Acrobat without delay and started off my favourite performance of the night. After being a hardcore U2 fan for almost 10 years now, I cannot express the utter joy and happiness I felt whilst witnessing my favourite band play one of their most incredible studio recording tracks ever created in a live format. They did not disappoint on any single level and each band member did the song justice and went above my expectations of what this song was going to sound and feel like. From where I was stood, I saw that Larry did not miss one single beat on his bass drum as he hit every single musical note in the song with his right foot whilst laying down a fantastic beat with his hands in the process. Adam’s bassline was really quite incredible and played ever so magnificently against Larry’s beat. Edge delivered everything I had hoped for with this track and more. The tone of his guitar was sublime and, again, not a single beat was missed on his way to a perfect solo and beyond. Bono’s voice was incredible and the way he played the MacPhisto character within this song was a delight to see. My favourite part of this performance was the solo but not just for Edge’s contribution to it – I really loved how Bono appeared to “conduct” Edge’s note playing throughout, even going as far to mock-copy this by playing an air violin towards the end of it! Just stunning from start to finish!

Bono then took a couple of minutes to rid himself of the MacPhisto persona in the mirror whilst offering us all a snippet of “The Showman” which actually led me to thinking the band might have then played it live but I think I got a bit too ahead of myself with thinking that in the end!

Stripping things down from the full throttle nature of the second set so far, You’re The Best Thing About Me made an appearance in an acoustic environment which actually sounded better than I was expecting. I do wish they would play this live fully as a band but, looking at the theme of the show and the nature of where this acoustic arrangement was slotted in, it makes sense to keep it performed this way to fit the show’s requirement for it.

Adam and Larry then departed the “E” stage as Bono and Edge took centre stage to play a bare electric version of Summer Of Love. What I appreciated most about this rendition was the complimentary visual aspect, both on the “E” stage flooring but also on the main LED screen as well, as the images made a hard-hitting statement about the current condition some parts of the world are still critically in. A very powerful message and one which continued the narrative arc of the show nicely.

Then came a cool performance of Pride (In The Name Of Love) for the 1001st documented playing of it. Unfortunately, for me, I think this song was misplaced severely within the set-list as I don’t think the meaning of this song followed the same pattern of the previous two songs before it or continued with the theme of the song which then followed it. The band still played it very well and I enjoyed the song, and the fact that all band members played it in their own space on a platform, but I just feel it may have been a touch out of place when looking at the entire picture of the show.

Following next, Bono paid tribute to Manchester-made bands such as Oasis and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds as he made his way back over to the main stage to join Edge, Adam and Larry to perform Get Out Of Your Own Way. This song really did provide a transcending feel to the tail-end of the second set and seemed to carry through the story-telling of the previous two “Songs Of Experience” tracks well. Edge’s guitar, again, was in fine musical form with his solo being a nice highlight to the track. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to the visual designers of the main screen in this track as they did a fantastic job displaying various European cities turning into stars within the EU Flag before having an actual EU Flag rise up behind the band with one star changed to a Union Jack surrounded by a love heart – such a gorgeous touch by the band and their stage designers.

New Year’s Day then followed on the same main theme of the show very well and I love how the band have altered the performance aspect of this track by making it more piano-focussed throughout with the bassline and drum beat coming in only at specified times. A very nice arrangement and one which I hope they maintain for future tours. Bono ended this song with another nice little nod to the city by calling Manchester “still one of the great European cities” – a class touch by our leading man.

To close off the second main set, City Of Blinding Lights came out in full force with lights ablaze and high-intensity, multi-coloured flashing visuals across the staging and main LED screen which was an absolute sight to behold. This song really is the new “Streets” for the 21st century concert-goers and created a beautiful emotional peak within the show ending on the highest possible high. The band really have perfected the way that they play this song as it has gotten better and better over the three concerts I have now witnessed from them – long may it continue!

As the band temporarily disappeared before coming back out for the encore, another gorgeous array of powerful and inspirational messages were transported up onto the main screen surrounding Bono’s daughter in the middle. Again, a very clever way of using the facilities to keep the audience engaged throughout the concert whilst delivering the message the band want to in a non-invasive way.

The band swiftly returned to the main stage greeted to the cheers and applause of the receptive crowd before entering into another classic performance of One. This song, like many others, always has that feeling of brilliance when the band plays it live. It manages to reach out to every individual on some level one way or another and, musically, it always sounds so engaging and uplifting. Edge’s solo towards the end was inspiring and I particularly liked how the arena lights were switched off around halfway into the track which added to the experience of the song.

Flowing nicely through the encore, Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way soon followed and really transcended the show to its highest possible peak emotionally. Bono managed to engage the crowd into chanting along through the chorus section which was brilliant and the only small hiccup was when Larry lost grip of his right drum stick mid-way through the song but this didn’t distract from the wonderful moment the band had us in; plus, Bono quickly managed to quip “if I could hear myself when I ‘play’” instead of ‘say’ as the slip had occurred which I thought was quite funny!

As the final song of the night was upon us, the lights dimmed down and a sense of calm and compassion surrounded the arena. 13 (There Is A Light) commenced with Bono’s delicate vocal leading us through the journey of experience to its final chapter. As he made the long walk from the main stage to the “E” stage, Edge, Adam and Larry backed him up beautifully with a softly played arrangement of musicality which opened up Bono to showcase his gorgeous lower-register with a message of hope for us all. Ending with the darkness shadowing a light bulb, which rose from a small scale version of Bono’s original home on Cedarwood Road, the journey had been complete and I was left with a sense of contentment that the show had ended with the story perfectly wrapped up.

The most defining moment of this final song was the very end where Bono had made his way off the “E” stage, as the song concluded, walking his way through the darkened crowd to the exit doors as they closed behind him whilst he said “goodbye Manchester” – this moment hit me real hard and was such a fantastic way to close off the show.

So, as we reached the end of the night, the band had taken us through a journey of experience which ebbed and flowed flawlessly throughout with stunning visual representation, powerful messages of hope, unity and love all topped off with the final flourish of a sombre final chapter to round off our emotional experience in the most delightful of ways.

For me, this was U2’s most emotional concert that I have attended so far which I attribute to the main narrative of the show across the board, the selection of songs which the band played and the way in which they played them. U2 played as if their lives depended on it and sounded as fresh out of the studio as ever. If there is to be a long cooling off period for the band after this tour is done and dusted, which I think will be most likely, I am so happy that I managed to get out to see the band play in the way that they did last night with all the power, prowess and passion that they have always had; only, this time, it was more controlled, calm and collected.

Last night, they were a band of experience but still playing with the youthful exuberance of four Irish boys within.



Offline laoghaire

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Re: Experience + Innocence Tour - Manchester Arena, 20/10/18 (Review)
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2018, 05:15:33 PM »
Brilliant, thanks for that!

I listened to the last few songs on Mixlr and Bono's farewell to Manchester right before he walked out also hit me, thousands of miles away.

I'm amazed at all the AB (and Stay) in this set.

I think it's Edge's daughter during the thing right before the encore. Very stunning imagery for sure.

MacPhisto is great and honestly I wish we could see more of his unfiltered face because the filter, while cool, obscures his theatrical genius.

Offline Dreamweave

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Re: Experience + Innocence Tour - Manchester Arena, 20/10/18 (Review)
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2018, 06:39:34 AM »
Great review. We had red zone tickets and it took an hour and a half to get into the venue. The security staff didn't have a clue. We queued in the red zone area to get in only to be told by one of the security staff that we had to go and get our tickets from the general box office. 45 minute's later we were directed right back to where we were lined up to a table in the corner with no signs saying this is where you collected your tickets from. Was also very disappointed that the red zone bar shut at 8pm.

Its the first time we have ever been in the red zone and to be honest it was a complete waste of money and really took the edge and excitement out of the beginning of the night and was replaced by frustration. We may as well bought general admission tickets as there was no real VIP experience as advertised. Aside from that we enjoyed the concert, especially when the edge performed on a platform right next to me, I couldn't believe my luck!! Love is bigger than anything in its way was for me the best song of the night. Loved the cage screen and really think it worked well.

Offline Gavin82

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Re: Experience + Innocence Tour - Manchester Arena, 20/10/18 (Review)
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2018, 08:12:34 AM »
I was over looking RZ from Block 215 cant believe the norm GA was in front & RZ was at the back of the GA would have been gutted if id brought RZ GA was £79ish RZ over £200..!!!!

Offline laoghaire

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Re: Experience + Innocence Tour - Manchester Arena, 20/10/18 (Review)
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2018, 08:36:22 AM »
GA is a great deal because it's a gift to the fans.

Fans pay it back to the band in energy. It's a good system.