What happens when more than 45,000 people try to tweet to @bono that they’ve left out an ‘n’ in Winnipeg whenever the giant screen rotates a fact about our city?
The Rogers and MTS cell phone networks break around Canad Inns Stadium.
Perhaps the “spaceship” (Claw? Arch? Mutated spider?) that anchored the ginormous stage surrounding the world’s biggest rock band was throwing out futuristic dampening waves.
Either way, no tweets, Facebook pictures or text messages were getting out easily at Canad Inns Stadium Sunday night when U2 finally took the stage about 15 minutes later than they planned to.
Which was a shame, really. The night began with a fantastic fly-by from three smoke-spewing lighweight aircraft, which circled the stadium several times, leaving trails of vapor and cheering crowds.
Then nothing for 10 minutes.
But that didn’t matter. U2 took to the stage to the strains of Major Tom while the arch started to erupt, and it segued into Even Better Than The Real Thing nicely.
From there it was 22 more songs, hit after hit to an adoring crowd huddled against the cold in a night that felt more like March than May.
The crowd cheered. They roared. They stamped their feet. They prayed. They laughed in delight. They stared in wonder at the 360 degree stage.
The stage, however, wasn’t used to its full effect as often as it could have been. Occasionally the boys wandered to the sides and back of the stage, but for the most part, they stayed put up front.
In the end, this hardly mattered. A giant encircling video screen vividly captured Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam as they strutted around the stage, Bono dressed in black leather pants, jacket, black t-shirt and his eponymous sunglasses. The video work capturing the guys was, quite simply, the best I’ve ever seen at a concert. It was like being inside a music video.
The night proved that Bono can still sing – and there was no autotune here. The frontman still has a stunning and clear voice that only showed fatigue by the last song of the encore.
The highlight of the night came from Rattle and Hum’s All I Want Is You, gorgeously sung and presented by the band while the sun set to a pink sky and blue clouds behind them.
There was little banter from Bono and the boys, except for a moment when Bono acknowledged a technician in charge of the video screen misspelled the city’s name as “Winipeg.” They also took a fun shot at opening band The Fray, complaining the group stuck them with the dinner bill.
Instead of banter, there was just music, sampled from a rock band with nearly 25 years worth of material to chose from. There was also the occasional social message, culminating with a video recorded message of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi praising freedom and peace. Bono also toasted Amnesty International, getting the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to the human rights group, which turned 50 Sunday.
The crowd obliged happily, as they did for every song and every request, stamping their feet, clapping their frozen hands and finally, pulling out their cell phones at the end of the band’s two-song encore, which included Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me and With or Without You. “Turn this place into the Milky Way,” Bono implored at the end of the night, turning the sea of faces into a twinkling land of lights and dreams.
Opening act The Fray, which sounded like what would happen if Live and U2 mated, started out strong, but lost the crowd halfway through their set thanks to a series of ballads that never seemed to end.