Unbelievable 2 nights in a row! That’s what Philadelphia got last week when legendary Irish Rockers, U2 brought their EXPERIENCE + INNOCENCE TOUR to town. Philly was just starting to come off its high from U2’s, Joshua Tree Tour last year across the street at Lincoln Financial Field. The only thing that could possibly compare to a show of that scale and significance is to do 2 incredible nights at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s talk about my personal experience with these shows. First and foremost, I found out that there is a extremely dedicated mass of U2 fans in Philadelphia. There’s even a larger mass of people who literally travel state to state, and even country to country, to see countless shows on the tour. In my experience, and years in music, there are few bands that have fans so fiercely committed to them. Of course I wanted to get a good spot for the show. So, I had to find this group of people at the venue the night BEFORE each show! Yes, that far ahead of time! Event staff had a clipboard to sign your name and receive a number for a place in line the next morning. To make sure people were in compliance, check-ins were scheduled several times prior to the venue doors opening. If you weren’t there for check in, you lost your place in line! Shortly before being allowed in the venue, we were given numbered wrist bands along with our GA Floor wristbands. Once through the doors, the excitement was on as everyone dashed for their pre-planned “special spot” on the floor to watch the show.
Night #1 I decided I would make my vantage point the Main Stage. Night #2, I would go to the other end of the arena to view the Second Stage. Looming large through the length of the arena, hanging from the ceiling, was a massive box shaped video screen. Directly beneath it was a long runway that connected the Main Stage to the Second Stage.
As I waited for the show to start, I talked with many of the people around me who waited in line all day. One of my very favorites was a adorable elderly woman, 75 years young with her daughter. She’s been to many shows and is endeared to the U2 crew and fans as “GA MOM”. I was even more blown away when they told me her grandson was coming on night #2, representing 3 generations of their family. Now that’s what music truly is about!
Finally after waiting countless exhausting hours for show time, the lights went down and it was ON! The screen came to life showing silhouettes of Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry. The screen would become a digital wave of water that looked like it would wash the audience away. Then we would see animated versions of the band as the actual members start to emerge from the end of this giant screen and onto the Main Stage. The crowd roars as they get right into songs like Love Is All We Have Left, Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Elevation and Vertigo just to name a few.
I thought the first night’s sound had a bit of trouble with the mix. The same thoughts were echoed from many people after the show. It was a little muddy and it was hard to hear The Edge’s guitar, which really makes the whole U2 sound. It happens to the best of them from time to time.
The second night sounded significantly better! I watched this show from the Second Stage where I got to experience Bono’s resurrecting of Mr. MacPhisto. Now dawning some face makeup and a top hat, Bono leered into a IPad/Mirror that would transform his face into the devilish, menacing character.
Things quickly turned back to beautiful renditions of songs like Staring At The Sun, Pride, City Of Blinding Lights and of course, ONE. Bono would then leave the crowd with his sentiments of thanks and blessings as he ended both nights with Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way. As the band continued to play, Bono walked slowly alone down the ramp to the Second Stage where he swung a large single light bulb pulled from a tiny house on the stage. He sang, There Is A Light as he stepped off the stage and left the arena, waving to the fans as he walked out of their site.
U2 has performed 22 times in Philadelphia. They have certainly come a long way from playing The Bijou Cafe way back on Dec. 15 of 1980!!! New to this country and traveling from club to club in a beat up old van, Their music has touched millions and millions of people World Wide, making them one of the most iconic bands in Music history.
Photo Gallery by Tom Collins