There’s only a select few acts in the USA that reach the level of stadium attendance. Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Kenny Chesney and maybe Metallica are a few that can actually draw crowds north of 25,000. U2, of course, can now safely count themselves in that club. On a picturesque day in Pasadena, California, U2 headlined a show at the famous Rose Bowl playing to 96,000 attendees. That’s not a typo, nearly a hundred thousand people all gathered in one place to see four Irishmen play rock and roll.
Southern California’s own Black Eyed Peas did a noble job of warming up the crowd, bringing dance-worthy energy on “Boom Boom Pow” and “Pump It” and heartfelt ballads in the form of “Where is the Love?” and “Sweet Child of Mine” (featuring none other than Slash as a special guest on lead guitar). As the venue filled to a staggering capacity the Peas ended with the uncharacteristically straight-ahead “I Gotta Feeling” singing repeatedly “Tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.”
And during the break to switch to U2’s equipment, the final pieces of what have to be the most expensive and eye-opening sets ever used at a concert were put in place. Looking like a mechanical tarantula from outer space, the massive claw-like set dressing stood higher than a staggering 160 feet tall, had mutating video walls draped over each side and at its base had numerous catwalks connecting the inner and outer rings of the stage that would move clockwise and counter clockwise across the circles whenever the band needed. In the midst of the gargantuan Rose Bowl, this stage allowed U2 to literally play “in the round,” providing a unique visual experience from every angle of the stadium.
Leaning heavily on material from this year’s No Line on the Horizon, the band did offer some of their greatest cuts in the mix. Along with “Mysterious Ways,” “Vertigo” and “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the most stellar moments were a roaring singalong of the first verse of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” the incomparable soul searching of “One” and the graceful “City of Blinding Lights.” As the band confidently roamed around their gigantic stage, perhaps the single greatest pleasure was watching the incomparable guitar work of The Edge as he effortlessly made an army of sounds with his effect pedals. Not just any band could make appropriate use of such a space and spectacle, but U2 did with aplomb. It truly was an engaging experience to witness.
— All Photos By Laura Ferreiro