U2 back on track in Cologne

Photo (c) Peter Neill, Flickr: u2-1 CC BY 2.0

The current Experience + Innocent tour of U2 is in fact a sequel to the Innocent + Experience tour that they undertook in 2015. In that year to promote the album ‘Songs of Innocence’. Now U2 is performing to promote the next part, ‘Songs of Experience’, which appeared last December. In between there was the anniversary tour for the album ‘The Joshua Tree’, because the new album no longer felt relevant because of the Brexit and the victory of Trump,  and had to be adapted. For that reason, for the first time since 1987, no songs from that widely acclaimed album ‘The Joshua Tree’ are played during this tour.

Just like in 2015, U2 does not tackle the big stadiums, but the more intimate venues. In October they will have two almost sold-out evenings in the Ziggo Dome, but this evening was the first of two evenings at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. A concert almost cancelled, because Bono lost his voice in Berlin three days earlier. Luckily, he was completely up to vote again this evening.

Wink to the 90s

The stage was the same like during the tour in 2015, with a catwalk and a large video wall hanging above it. Even now U2 aimed at current events. The concert started with the famous speech by Charlie Chaplin from ‘The Great Dictator’. Including images of the Second World War, but also current world leaders such as Trump and Kim Jung Un. As if U2 wanted to say that we have not made much progress with world politics. Then, from the last album, ‘The Blackout’ popped in as the perfect opener. And next ‘Lights of Home’ from the same album. But when ‘I Will Follow’ followed, the first classic U2 song, the ice between the band and audience was really broken. A highlight was also the lesser known ‘The Ocean’ of their debut album ‘Boy’. It was the introduction for ‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’.

That was where it started to wring. With a block of four songs in a row they copied exactly a part of the tour from 2015; The aforementioned ‘Iris’, ‘Cedarwood Road’, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Until The End of the World’. As a result, you almost got the feeling that the band was repeating itself. Fortunately they quickly revived afterwards. They did this with a special version of ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’ and on the mini stage in the middle of the hall with another fresh version of the public favorite song ‘Elevation’. Also special was the ‘Acrobat’ from ‘Achtung Baby’ that is played live on this tour for the first time. A nod to that period of the early 90s was introduced when Bono produced his old alter ego ‘Macphisto’.

Highlights of U2

On that small stage they created the highlight of the show. With, among other things, a small semi-acoustic version of ‘You’re The Best Thing About Me’ and ‘Summer of Love’. The less strong ‘Get Out On Your Own Way’ proved to fit perfectly between classics ‘Pride’ and ‘New Years Day’. The songs of ‘The Joshua Tree’ may well be in the fridge for a while, the inevitable ‘One’ has passed. The ‘Love Is Bigger Than Anything In It’s Way’ was made for stadiums and the intimate ’13 (There’s a Light) ‘. After this Bono left the audience through the audience. With that it fits nicely with the tour from 2015 where he climbed the stage at the beginning of the concerts.

Apart from repeating a small block of 4 songs, this tour is a nice connection to the tour of 2015. The temporary overboard throw of ‘The Joshua Tree’ turned out to have a fresh effect. Perhaps they have also put more focus on the most seasoned fans who have been visiting their concerts for years. It is also a nice sequel to the tour of last year in honor of ‘The Joshua Tree’. That tour was for the general public, and this tour for the diehard U2 fans.

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