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Renee McMahon
U2

Qwest Field

Saturday, May 4

Forget explosive record sales and world tours--not even the confines of planet Earth can keep U2 in

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U2 Transcends the Earthly World Saturday Night at Qwest Field

14 U2:Lenny Kravitz.jpg
Renee McMahon
U2

Qwest Field

Saturday, May 4

Forget explosive record sales and world tours--not even the confines of planet Earth can keep U2 in its grasp any longer.

Emerging to a deafening level of screams and shrieks Saturday night, U2 made its grand entrance to an estimated 70,000 fans teetering on cardiac arrest and enough flash photography to create a miniature strobe effect across the stadium.

The sensational Irish rockers--Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen--slowly and confidently strutted beneath the 167-foot "space station" that swallowed more than 40 yards of Qwest Field to David Bowie's "Space Oddity." Featuring a 54-ton, 500,000-pixel cylindrical screen capable of expanding from 4,300 square feet when closed to 14,000 when open, even fans in the nosebleeds could see their reflection in Bono's curiously appropriate tinted sunglasses.

To put into perspective just how massive a stage the band was working with: It takes four days of labor, 250 crew members, 47 semi-trucks, and 12 buses carrying gear to make a single performance on the U2 360 tour possible, according to the band's website.

The mega-structure more closely resembled one of those mechanical spiders from the film Wild Wild West than a concert stage, but once the sun went down and the epic Spider Station began glowing and shooting lights into the sky, I wondered just how deep U2's pockets went--and if the entire damn thing might actually launch into space.

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Renee McMahon

U2 began the night with rapid fire, performing "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "I Will Follow" with nary a sentence coming from Mr. Bono--besides the occasional "beautiful" or "love" that caused a simultaneous climax from every 40-50-year-old man and woman in attendance.

As the night progressed, songs such as "Mysterious Ways" and "Elevation" began to reveal just how much punch U2 was packing. The Spider Station boasted a constant eruption of light and color, and Bono's Christ pose only added to the magnitude of the evening. During a snippet of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (which has only been performed one other time on the 360 tour thus far), Bono tossed little white flowers into the crowd while standing on a revolving bridge that stretched above the moat of VIP fans seated around the outer edge of the stage.

Boasting the most successful tour in human history--the two-year spectacle is expected to earn more than $700 million by the end of July, quite the bump to The Stones' previous record of $558 million--is child's play, however. The band has a genuine connection to space.

Before U2 played "Beautiful Day," Bono dedicated the performance to Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona and gave a shout-out to her husband, Commander Mark E. Kelly of the Endeavor space crew.

"Imagine a man looking down on us from 200 miles up. Looking down at our beautiful, crowded planet. What would he say to us? What is on your mind, Commander Kelly?" Bono said.

At that moment the mammoth screen flickered and a smiling astronaut was shown holding up floating letters that spelled "It's a beautiful day."

"Hello Seattle, from the International Space Station," Kelly said. "I'm looking forward to coming home. Tell my wife I love her very much . . . she knows."

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Renee McMahon

When the four-piece finally began playing, it was clear just how big the name U2 has gotten--it's a brand, an entire corporation. Here's a band that had a song played as a "wake up" for astronauts floating in orbit. A band that has spent $750,000 a day for two years transporting the largest touring stage in history. A band that uses its power and name for all the good in the world, and spares no expense at making its live performance truly "out of this world."

Several more heart-wrenching videos and tributes took place during the two-and-a-half-hour concert, including a message from Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi and a special performance of "One."

Hits such as "Vertigo," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and "Moment of Surrender" closed the evening--never have I ever witnessed a five-song encore--and after a long thank you and mini-message of hope from Bono, the band disappeared back into the dark abyss from which they came.

The lights came back on, the Spider Structure ceased to shine and glow, and the only feeling of space left was from the perfectly clear sky visible through the open roof of Qwest field.

Not So Momentous: Lenny Kravitz, who opened for U2, appears as a footnote on the official 360 tour poster. Likewise, his performance was merely a footnote to the evening. Nobody sitting anywhere around me recognized any of the songs Kravitz was playing until he dipped far enough back into the '90s section of his discography.

Overheard in the Crowd: "His music is so repetitive, it's incredible. It's like the five same words over and over," said an aggravated U2 fan to my left during Lenny Kravitz's third song.

Things I'd Pay to See Again: Watching grown men shake their butts and sing every word to "American Woman" is a priceless experience.

Momentous With a Price Tag: A family of four sitting in the lower level could have easily paid $1,000 for tickets to the 360 Tour. Tack on the $40 concert shirts and $8.50-$9.50 beers, and a personal bank loan was almost necessary to fully appreciate the experience.

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Renee McMahon

Set List:

Even Better Than the Real Thing

I Will Follow

Get on Your Boots

Magnificent

Mysterious Ways / Norwegian Wood (snippet)

Elevation

Until the End of the World / It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (snippet) / Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (snippet)

All I Want Is You

Stay (Faraway, So Close!)

Beautiful Day / Space Oddity (snippet)

Pride (in the Name of Love)

Miss Sarajevo

Zooropa

City of Blinding Lights

Vertigo

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Discothèque (snippet) / Life During Wartime (snippet) / Psycho Killer (snippet)

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Scarlet

Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)

Encore:

One

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (snippet) / Where the Streets Have No Name / All You Need Is Love (snippet)

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

With or Without You

Moment of Surrender

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Renee McMahon

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