I resisted seeing U2 for a while after having such an amazing experience seeing them under the Brooklyn Bridge...and I'm glad I waited until last night.
The energy of the Garden was electric to say the least. Everyone in attendance had a favorite song they had to hear and a U2 moment they cherished. Even more excited, every time you see U2, they re-invent themselves - yet stay the same. They are technology innovators and I was excited to see how they could top themselves again.
Lucky to be able to go with a friend who could name the song before the first note was played, it was not only the best U2 show I had every been to, it was one of the best concerts I had ever attended.
As the lights dimmed, U2 walked from within the Garden locker rooms and onto the stage. Beginning with Miracle of Joey Ramone, it is very fitting that each show starts with this song. The Ramones are part of the reason why we have U2 and Bono becoming such a part of Joey Ramone's life makes the opening number in NYC so emotional. The next three songs got the crowd really going once we heard it was U2's 100th performance in NYC!!
We went back to the new album - which people should give a second listen - and went down an emotional path as Bono told of the loss of his mother, Iris. He recanted his journey to become a band, as well as trying to win the girl of his dreams. At this point, the band and Bono are actually within the animation on the Garden length screen. Truly wondrous technology that U2 always seems to invent for shows.
At this point, it got really emotional for me. The screen display changed from houses in Dublin, to traditional row flats in Northern Ireland. The floor was lit to the Irish Tri-Colour green, white, and orange. Larry Mullen proceeded out with a simple snare drum as The Edge played the first notes of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Emotional enough, right? After a brief When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, they go into Raised by Wolves. It is a song about finding justice for those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974. The gentlemen in front of us lost his grandfather in the bombing and pointed him out when the victims pictures were displayed on stage with the words: Justice for the Forgotten
The first set then ended with one of my favorites from Achtung Baby, Until the End of the World.
The Fly and the Berlin Wall back drop took us through a very brief intermission.
Besides the Invisible second set opener, it got very Zoo TV with throwbacks to Achtung Baby and some Talking Heads and David Bowie thrown in.
It was party time with Desire, Give Your Love and then ... the crowd surprise favorite, Party Girl (which had not been performed in full since July 7, 2009).
I was feeling very Rattle and Hum with some Pink Floyd mixed in when Bono took to the runway with a megaphone to sing Bullet the Blue Sky. The surprise of 19 mixed in really got me. I used to listen the song over and over via cassette.
The show was at a crescendo as a member of the audience (in our section) was hondered for his peace work in Northern Ireland. During Pride, we all sang for Bill Clinton. (a great geeky, political moment for this nerd).
The final songs of the second set had everyone singing. Beautiful Day with a Springsteen teaser of Hungry Heart led us into the final pre-encore song, With or Without You.
Knowing that City of Blinding Lights was about the first time U2 played in NYC, the band lived up to the tour's name, Innocence and Experience. Innocent boys from Ireland 35 years ago to the experienced band they have become, giving a nod to the previous night's guest, Paul Simon with Mother and Child Reunion, before belting into Where the Streets Have No Name.
And then we finally got our surprise guest answer: Bruce Springsteen (who look amazing) joined the band for I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and a surprise (not on the set list even) version of Stand by Me.
And just when I thought we would break into One to end the show. Manager Dennis Sheehan was honored and U2 ended the show in a traditional fashion that concluded for me why this was my favorite show ever: 40.
In the halls of the Garden, the words still echoed: How long to sing this song.
U2 Innocence + Experience Tour
Madison Square Garden NYC
July 31, 2015
Miracle of Joey Ramone
Out of control
I Will Follow
Song for Someone
Sunday Bloody Sunday > Johnny > Raised by Wolves
Until the End of the world
The Fly (Intermission)
Even Better Than the Real Thing
Mysterious Ways >Burning Down> Young American
Desire>Give Your Love
Every Breaking Wave
Bullet the Blue Sky > 19
Hands That Built America >Pride
Beautiful Day > Hungry Heart
With or Without You
City of Blinding Lights>Mother and Child Reunion
Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found > Stand by Me (Springsteen)