Monday, 4 September 2017

U2 Live Under A Greek Blue Sky

One year and a couple of weeks after I had seen U2 in Cardiff, they came to Athens in Greece, seven years ago. I wasn't going to miss it of course, and although it was the same tour, the experience proved to be a bit different. This time I was going to be in the pitch, whereas in Cardiff I was in the stands towards the back of the stage so that I could sample this "360 experience" from an unusual point.
A friend who used to live close to the Olympic Stadium told us that she could hear the sound check in the early afternoon.

It was at her place where we gathered at around 6 o clock in the early evening to start the (not so long) walk towards the stadium.

After we went through the first few gates we came head to head with that big unsung hero of the Greek concert organizing industry, the "security guard". At first they were guiding us using loudspeakers ordeing us to hold one of our hands up holding the ticket (seriously!) because they were going to "check the orange" (The orange what?). I've never been treated this way in any of the concerts I have been to in Europe. I understand that it may not be so tiring to do that, but I strongly object to being treated like sheep. Another one informed us smiling malevolently that we should not feel so happy that we finally got in because we had to walk for 30 more minutes (as it turned out it was only 5 minutes). It probably has something to do with the feeling of power this job entails that makes them behave this way. Maybe it acts as an aphrodisiac.
So we finally got into the stadium where people who had already been to other U2 concerts could easily be spotted.
First on stage at 19:15 was Aviv Geffen. Rather boring actually, but the funny thing was that I saw him again a few days later at a Placebo gig. One hour later, at 20:15, it was time for Snow Patrol.

After that, we were left watching the big screen where a clock seemed at first to lag behind, then go forward until we realized that the stroke of midnight would be at 21:45. The time that U2 were due to go onstage.

And that's exactly what happened, at that precise moment, while the stadium lights stayed on, U2 came on stage while David Bowie's Space Oddity was playing from the speakers.

The first proper song was "Beautiful Day" (following the instrumental "Return Of The Stingray Guitar"). This time they only played 4 songs from "No Line On The Horizon" ("Magnificent", "Get On Your Boots" "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" and "Moment Of Surrender").

So, since "Unknown Caller" was not played we didn't have the chance to hear the words we had been waiting for ("Athens, you know your name, so punch it in"), however we did hear something new in the form of "Return Of The Stingray Guitar". Personally, I was happy to hear "Hold, Thrill Me...", "Elevation", "Until The End Of The World" this time around which were not played in Cardiff. But, the highlight for me was "In A Little While", a song I had almost forgotten. The crowd enjoyed it and although we were told that not all tickets had been sold the stadium seemed to have been filled by the time U2 came on stage. I can imagine of course that the VIP seats would have been filled by Greek b-list "celelbrities" who thought that they "rocked" when in fact they actually attended the concert in order to be "seen" by the press and media. The same thing happened at Madonna's concert in 2008 and at The Rolling Stones concert in 1998, both at the same stadium. Another nice thing was that Bono didn't preach. Why am I saying that? Well, back in 2010, it was the beginning of Greece's economic crisis and every artist that came for a concert felt obliged to say something like "Don't worry, it will pass" or "Don't worry, you'll get over it" (It is still going on by the way). Instead Bono said something more original : "The Irish and the Greeks have one thing in common: we are both broke" (I'll take that as a compliment.)
01. Return Of The Stingray Guitar
02. Beautiful Day
03. I Will Follow
04. Get On Your Boots
05. Magnificent
06. Mysterious Ways
07. Elevation
08. Until The End Of The World
09. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Movin' On Up (snippet)
10. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
11. In A Little While
12. Miss Sarajevo
13. City Of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo
15. Funky Town (snippet) / I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Discothèque (snippet)
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday
17. MLK
18. Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)
19. One
20. Amazing Grace (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
21. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment of Surrender
Another thing I realized now that I had seen the concert from the arena, is that you really enjoy it more when experiencing it from the stands since the stage is rather big and Bono and his friends (yes, even Larry) are moving all over the place. On the other hand, if you are in the arena you are compensated by the on-screen effects.
  We were hoping back then that we would see U2 again soon, but it's been 7 years and we are still waiting...