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The band looked a bit stiff and sounded a bit rusty, but i was the first night of the tour and they hadn't played a lot of these songs in over a year. This show had a lot firsts for me, such as my first time in New Zealand, and my first time hearing anything after the first 4 songs on The Joshua Tree and (the big one for me) hearing Bad for the first time. That song has played a huge part in my life and seeing the version on Rattle & Hum, is one of my earliest U2 memories, i was in tears, a moment i'll never forget.
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I was on the tree stage, right in front Larry during the first 4 songs, so the auidence participation from where i was was good, people around me sang along, knew the songs, it seemed fine from there.
I was born in February of 1999 and basically ever since then i have been listening to this band, especially the Joshua Tree album. My parents were U2 fans so i got my interest from them and once i learned how to work the CD player, i would listen to them non-stop. So when this tour was announced i decided to do as many shows as possible, meaning crossing the pond and heading over to Auckland.
I came alone and had no idea what to expect. I was told at a fan meet up about the check-in system and the 8:00 wrists band so i made sure i got to the ground early. After getting the wristband and and getting some rest, at 1 i headed down to the stadium to line up, buy merch (which i bought everything there was) and great ready for a great show. i got to know some people and found that socializing with U2 fans was easier than people i went to high school with. We got let in at 5 and went straight for the Tree stage, that way i had a good view of the screen and could still be close to the band.
at 7 Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds came on, i was not an oasis fan but i did know Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger, i had bought Noel's latest album, but hadn't listened to it much so i wasn't really aware of his solo stuff either. "Wow" i said at the end, it really surprised me how good he was and his interactions with the audience was nothing i had ever seen before. He made a real good impression on me and i was looking forward to seeing him at the other Australian shows.
8:45 rolls around and The Whole of the Moon starts, which was cue that U2 were about to start. Finally after waiting 9 years i finally get to see my favourite band and also i'm seeing them in a different country, this idea was ludicrous to me just a few years ago and yet here i am in Auckland waiting for Larry to walk out and launch into Sunday Bloody Sunday, which he did. I'll never forget when the syth to Bad started, i lost it, this was one of my favourite U2 live songs, i have never heard a version of Bad that didn't stop me in my tracks and made the world disappear, and this was no exception; this was amazing, i still struggle to find the words for that moment, you could have come up bend me and stabbed me as many times as you like and i still wouldn't have paid attention to you, i was going to live in this moment for as long as i could.
After Pride had finished the intro synth to Where the Streets Have No Name started, again i was gone. This wasn't like any other concert where U2 were about to play streets; They were about to start The Joshua Tree. One by one the songs came along, Still Haven't Found, With or Without You, Bullet the Blue Sky and on and on. Bullet is one of my favourite U2 songs, but i though version was a bit flat (there would be better versions to come); Running to Stand Still, however, brought me to tears again, except this time it was unexpected. I'd always loved the song but in that moment something happened and any emotions i was feeling just came out, love, anger, joy, remorse, it all laid bare to see. The album continued on, i enjoyed every minute, but once was got to One Tree Hill, things got serious. Part of the whole reason i came to NZ was to hear them play One Tree Hill in that country, and it didn't disappoint. Exit was next that was amazing, the Trump reference and Bono playing the character of this dark, mysterious cowboy was fantastic and how he adapted to stage movements to the dynamics of the song was amazing to see, he truly is one of the great front-men. Finally ending with Mothers of the Disappeared was just perfect, however that didn't end the main set, they decide to celebrate Rattle & Hum and the Lovetown tour by playing Angel of Harlem, which was fantastic, no complaints here.
The encore was a reference to the eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour from last year, it had a short version of the show from when the intermission ends. Bono came on in his MacPhisto get up (from the e+i tour) and they did Elevation, Vertigo and Even Better Than the Real Thing. they then went into Every Breaking Wave, returning to the proper tour setlist for the first time since the end of the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE in 2015. Then did the feminist section with Beautiful Day, Ultra Violet (so happy to hear that, love that song) and Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way. That was rumored to be the end of the show but i noticed out of the corner of my eye, while the band was bowing, Dallas put Edge's Les Paul on the Guitar stand. Bono gave a speech about the terrorist attacks in Christchurch earlier this year and how it was great how NZ responded with such grace, then Edge begun the riff for One. On the screen behind them they had a Muslim symbol and then slowly all the names of the victims appeared on the screen. This was the perfect way to end a great concert.
This was my first time seeing U2 since the second Sydney show of the 360 tour and it easily topped that show. Everything was great so far, the people were awesome and i had a great time talking to every single person and then seeing this show feed an appetite i had been working up for the last 9 years. Although there were better shows to come, this night, still, was amazing and a night I'll never forget.
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"We didn't get into the rock 'n' roll band that we're in to become celebrities and such, but at the same time we want to sell as many records as we can and we're proud of what we do, so why wouldn't we want it to be successful?"
- The Edge, 1997
did you know
During the ZooTV Tour, U2 wanted to play a show in Sarajevo. Due to logistical problems they couldn't play there during that tour so instead they created a video uplink to Sarajevo during most ZooTV shows. On the Popmart Tour, they played their first (and so far only) show in Sarajevo, finally fulfilling that vision.