Sunday, November 19, 2006

U2 Live in Adelaide!

When I heard that U2 was going to come to Adelaide last March I had it in my mind to watch them as that would have been a once in a lifetime experience for me. I tried getting tickets that first concert but the lines ( and the scalpers ) got the better of me and they were sold out before I knew it. When they cancelled that concert ( due to illness ) I thought that that was it and that there won't be any concerts at all but the concerts only got postponed and when they announced the shows were back on, my friend was quick to get us a couple of tickets to the one and only Adelaide show.

We had general admission tickets with no seating so it was first come first served in the queue. Because this chance wasn't going to come again, we resolved to be early in the queue so we could have at least a fighting chance to be as close to the stage as possible. We decided on an early start of 10AM for a 7PM concert. That's over 9 hours of ( mostly) waiting!

We've already heard of people actually lining up the day before the concert so I wasn't surprised to see quite a crowd already gathered when we got there in the morning. There wasn't actually a line so we quickly found spot in the grass and settled down for the wait. It was a cloudy and cold when we got there, nice waiting weather actually but as the day wore on, the fierce Aussie sun bore down on us, clearing the grey clouds that were our only shade. The quiet and calm crowd that started off the day soon grew to an antsy mob as the afternoon arrived. We were told that gates would open at 4:30 but people were already pushing and shoving, eager to get into AAMI stadium even as early as 2. A lot of hot, excited and (slightly) drunk concert goers were only too eager to move the line along.

Actually, I had to say that the organisers at the stadium weren't really prepared for that size of crowd. They were only opening 2 gates for general admission but the barricades they set up formed a sort of funnel such that all these people squeezed into 5 lines of single file each on both sides of the gate. You can then imagine the crush as the gates started to open. There we were packed like sardines as the people surged forward eager to be one of the first 4000 allowed to be in front of the stage.

In the end, our early start paid off as we were able to find ourselves front and center with the stage mere meters in front of us. Even though we were inside, people still moved around trying to find the best vantage point. We stood our ground and staked our claim. People in the pit started to relax having done the same and the ubiquitous concert beach balls started being thrown. The stage was impressive as 20 maybe 30 meter high speaker to the side and a huge wall of what seemed like small LCD screens in the middle.

It didn't take long for Kanyé West to take the stage for the opening act and got the crowd going. Now, I'm not a big fan of hip hop nor Kanyé in particular but it was still good to hear something from the stage. I could feel the crowd wanting to be genuinely excited about it but I could only guess that they were more than ready for the main event. After Kanyé's performance the sound check guys for U2 did their thing. You can tell how impatient the mosh pit crowd was getting as every little thing the sound check guys did was greeted with cheers from all over.

Then it came, U2 took the stage at around 8:30. The whole stage transformed into a wall of sound and light. I honestly couldn't remember what song they started the set with. All I remember was the huge backdrop bursting into light and the band just opening with the whole stadium ( at least the mosh pit ) going berserk. They were as sharp as you'd expect them to be, with Bono being quite the master showman. They went through lots of their hits, old and new: Where The Streets Have No Name, Vertigo, Elevation, One, Angel of Harlem, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, With or Without You, Pride, Bullet the Blue Sky, Beautiful Day and many others. They even played their latest single Saints Come Marching ( albeit without Greenday ). It was fantastic to hear all these songs live from them and the crowd couldn't help but sing along.

Anyway, what else can I say about the concert except that it was all I've expected and more. Bono did his thing as with all live concerts throwing in some pieces of local relevance in his Beautiful Day rendition ( i.e South Australia, River Murray, Glenelg etc. ) to the delight of the crowd. U2's message of making poverty history and coexistence was also in focus as he encouraged the people to take out their mobile phones not just to light up the stadium but to text to a number to help ending poverty. At the end of the show the names of the people who texted their names actually came up in the big LCD screens as well which I thought was a nice touch. U2 played for 2 and a half hours but it seemed like it was longer. They haven't lost any of their touch and was a sharp performance all around.

At the end of the night I think everyone was wholly satisfied but we still had to endure the eventual crush to get out. Again, it was sardine can conditions as people filed out of the venue and waiting for buses as well as getting out of the parking lots. It took me about 2 hours to eventually get home!

I've tried to take pictures but I read that cameras were not admitted so I only brought my camera phone. Little did I know that digital cameras were allowed, as long as they weren't any professional SLR type stuff. So, I had to be content with the results from the phone camera. Never mind, still had a great time though and one I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.

More pictures on my U2 Flickr set.

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