May 26, 2015
[Editor's Note: Sources have confirmed that U2's longtime tour manager Dennis Sheehan died of a massive heart attack in his hotel room early this morning after the band's show last night. Sheehan,who was in his 60s, had worked with the Irish rockers since 1982. Our deepest condolences to the band and their crew.]
If T-shirts don't lie, then U2 sold out every US date on their "iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE TOUR." For, the words "Sold Out" are stamped next to the names of each of the seven cities listed on the official souvenir shirt for their current tour. Considering The Forum, in Inglewood, has a capacity of 17,500 people, and given that even people sitting in some of the lousier seating areas were paying upwards of $250 a pop, it is safe to say that this tour was a success before it began. Regardless, the band put on a great concert.
Visually, the show was incredible. A two-tier catwalk stretched the length of the stadium and was book-ended by two stages, and while both the upper and lower catwalks could be clearly seen with the house lights on, LED walls of imagery alternately concealed the upper catwalk and revealed specific spots along the way, where lead singer Bono would periodically strut. The imagery on the LED screens ranged from stylized artistic vignettes of small town neighborhoods (seen moving as though the audience was looking out the window of a moving train) to dynamic shots from the concert's closed-circuit video feed.
In fact, the camera direction that was evident from the screens was so complex that it diminutized the movements of the live performers to the extent that they could have been an accompanying band, which was playing a live soundtrack to a concert film. Beyond this, the more imaginative LED imagery depicted various location scenes which Bono would walk through and interact with.
Musically, the concert was pared down to the four musicians; including Bono, The Edge (guitar), Adam Clayton (bass), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums); performing bare-bones renditions of their songs. This enabled some wiggle-room for Bono's frequent improvisational lyrical riffing and speeches. Given that Bono's voice sounded great and the band was very tight, the entire presentation was an effective balance of calculated showmanship and spontaneity, which yielded some solid magical moments.[
Following the first 10 songs, the band took a momentary break while the ethereal visage of Johnny Cash, singing "The Wanderer," appeared on the LED wall. Afterwards, the band returned for an additional 10-song set and a three-song encore. The whole setlist consisted of a well-balanced selection of songs from their entire catalog. Highlights included: Bono singing "Every Breaking Wave" while The Edge played piano; extended banter during "Pride," wherein Bono applauded this week's passing of marriage equality in Ireland; and, in a moment right out of the film Rockstar, Bono's bringing a Bono-lookalike onto the stage to sing a few lines of "Sweetest Thing" while broadcasting a live video of the moment via his cellphone.