May 29, 2011 – Winnipeg
Seats: General Admission – Front Row Centre
I was the first one in the pit and was really happy that all the people we hung out with in the queue got a front rail position. There always seems to be an injustice if those who had camped out over night were squeezed to the back of the pit. But all I saw were happy faces along the rail and that made it extra special. It was my friend Mark’s (from Toronto) birthday that day and had told Bono earlier that he would be wearing his Mirrorball Man 2.0 costume during the show. Sure enough, he had his silver jacket and mirror ball helmet ready to go for the show. Bono spotted him during ‘One’, and gave a shout out (and on his birthday no less)! Early on, Bono did his best to lift the crowd and get them on their feet. Songs like ‘I Will Follow’, ‘Elevation’, ‘Vertigo’, and certainly ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ did the trick. The crowd went wild when ‘With Or Without You’ was played, because it was such a familiar song and the stage is at its full lighted glory.
There were a few bumps in the show that is only noticeable to the avid concert goer. The neat video intro with Desmond Tutu failed to show up on the screen above before ‘Magnificent’. I really liked the video and was too bad that Winnipegers didn’t enjoy its captivating imagery of the world being connected and a ghostly Tutu pronouncing the good nature of interconnectedness. Bono missed a few chorus words during the newly arranged ‘Magnificent, but he admits it is still a work in progress. ‘The Edge was having difficulty with tuning before ‘Stay (Faraway, So Close!)’, probably because of the cold wind affecting the strings and tuning. Adam looked miserable at times on stage, but we all concluded his appearance and awkwardness was due to the wicked cold wind blowing through the stadium. He had a pair of cut off gloves on his right hand, but that wasn’t enough to keep his fingers warm! The biggest omission was ‘Moment of Surrender’. I noticed Bono giving his thank yous and ‘bring out your cell phone’ speech way too early and during ‘With or Without You’. It appeared rushed, and to some disappointed die-hard fans, the closing song was left out maybe because the show ran past 11PM (curfew?).
But the local dailies gave the show glowing reviews – The Winnipeg Sun (5.0/5.0) and the Winnipeg Free Press (4.5/5.0). As die-hard fans, it’s important to remove ourselves and qualify our assessment of a concert. We are an odd bunch. We see dozens of shows and our expectations are just set too high. For the audience member who only saw this show once, I’m happy to know that they largely walked away satisfied and blown away by the production. My Mom loved the show, and my Dad wished the guy in the seats ahead of him sat down so he could view the show. I reminded him that people usually stand for a rock concert, especially for the world’s biggest band! It was kind of Phil (Bono’s roadie) to give me a setlist (Larry’s) given that this was my hometown concert, the one I had been waiting for over 10 years. I was kicking myself that I wasn’t a fan when U2 were last in Winnipeg, but I think I made up for in the meantime. Next show – Edmonton – my surrogate hometown!