Tuesday 30 June 2009. Barcelona, Spain. Camp Nou. 91,027 fans. The end of days of hundreds of fans sleeping and waiting in the streets, the start of a tour that would travel the globe. A warm day and evening, a long wait before showtime: 10pm local time. A Southern European electric atmosphere, the drum beats to Breathe and.. lift off! 22 songs, Michael Jackson snippets, 7 songs from the new album and wow, they botched One. Ultra Violet, the suit! The lights! How hard can these fans party? And what's up with these fans holding up their phones to broadcast this show to the ones not there? Technology! Moment of Surrender.. a magical end to a night which would be the start of 760 days of 360. Something very few could imagine at that point.
Still when the opening notes of Space Oddity are played on the radio or television I can feel the atmosphere of a 360 show. I can see the smoke coming out of The Claw, I can feel the excitement of those standing next to me. What am I hearing anyway? Space? This is a spaceship! Bowie and space. A more fitting and perfect opening song we will never hear. "His prolific imagination had a huge impact on me, as a teenager and to this day, I can't get over his body of work", Bono said in a Canadian newspaper. "The stage, to me, it looks like some sort of mad spaceship ... and I just think it stands for, 'Well, we can go anywhere.' Which has always been the throw-down at any U2 show. ‘Where do you want to go?’ You can stay in the stadium if you want, or we can go to this other place where the streets have no name. We can go to this other place, the place of imagination, the place of soul, the place of possibility, and we can just get lost in it. And a great show, when that happens, people don't know where they are, I don't know where I am. And that's what I think it stands for."
U2's Pasadena show was something special. Something unique, certainly at the time. U2's penultimate show of 2009 was simultaneously filmed for an upcoming release as well as streamed live to the world via YouTube. It was the first time a concert was streamed live on YouTube, and nearly 10 million people from 188 countries watched it. I remember waking up at 4am on a Monday morning and watching this show happen. It made my week. Who wouldn't love U2 to do something like this again?
3 unreleased songs. U2 played 3 songs no one has ever heard of at a live concert in the middle of the tour. Or well, not exactly middle, as U2 had to postpone their North American dates in 2010 the show in Turin, Italy on 6 August became their first concert of that year. And what a show it turned out to be, marking the start of what would become one of U2's most historic legs in touring. Return Of The Stingray Guitar, North Star, Glastonbury, Mercy, Every Breaking Wave, Boy Falls From The Sky. It was all played that summer and we will probably never experience something like that again. One of the most exciting months of touring for U2 fans around the world. Mercy, I mean. We knew about the song. But did anyone ever imagine them to pull this one out?
The European leg of 2010 ended in the capital of Italy, Rome. It turned out to be one of the most magical nights of the tour. The most special moment of the show happened during I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, when the entire audience in the stands worked together to create a spectacular scene, joining the Italian flag with the Irish flag, together making the word ONE. An extended rare version of Bad made the night even more epic, making all those present at the time memorize this show forever. One of the true great nights of 360.
When we look back on U2's tours and talk about setlist variation and surprises 360 might turn out to be one of the most special ones. Back in the day fans complained regularly about the static setlists but the list of surprises and epic song comebacks goes on and on. What about the return of Zooropa, full band? Or the live debut of Electrical Storm? Your Blue Room?! Love Rescue Me. The Wanderer. Scarlet. All the unreleased songs: Boy Falls From The Sky, Mercy, North Star, Every Breaking Wave, Glastonbury, Return Of The Stingray Guitar. The list is crazy and contains songs no one would ever have thought to appear (again) on a live stage.
The 360 Tour was a true worldwide tour, really going around the world and not just North America and Europe. New Zealand: the country was struggling to cope with the coal mine tragedy killing 29 miners. One Tree Hill was performed with the names of the miners scrolled down the stage screen, a very emotional performance. It touched New Zealand. Australia: Stuck In A Moment in Melbourne, dedicated to Michael Hutchence. An acoustic performance that made the huge stadium feel small and intimate. South Africa: Hugh Masekela joins U2 on trumpet during Still Haven't Found in Johannesburg, Yvonne Chaka Chaka joins U2 for Still Haven't Found and Stand By Me in Cape Town. Local musicians together with U2, uniting and celebrating Africa. Latin America: a home far away from home. Opening shows with Even Better Than The Real Thing. Playing a full version of Zooropa for the first time ever. Concerts streamed on television and online to make everyone a part of this unique tour. What a journey!
It just looked good. Do you know what I mean? For those of you who have the book "From The Ground Up". Find it in your bookshelf and open it, skim through it. There is no tour that ever looked better than U2 360. The scale, the immensity of tens of thousands of excited fans. We can put 100 slideshows together with 360 photos and still you wouldn't find a photo that doesn't look good. Attending a show was like dating the most popular boy or girl at school. Everyone would look at you in envy the next day, everyone was impressed. Everyone wanted a photo, because the two of you look so good together.
U2 did a link-up with the International Space Station during the show. Fans were given masks of Aung San Suu Kyi to put on during Walk On (the Aun San Suu Kyi theme later turned out to be quite the mistake as U2 denounced her later). U2 participated in Fancam of which the site is still online, did you tag yourself yet? The tour resulted in the best fan club gifts ever: U22 and Edge's Picks. The Red Zone made its debut on a U2 tour. U2 played in Glastonbury for the first time ever during this tour. U2 put on 110 shows during 7 legs over 2 years. The tour grossed $736,421,584. Our memories: priceless.