The End of the Line (on the Horizon)

The End of the Line (on the Horizon)

Worth It
Jul 13, 2011

The other night I had the thrill of going to U2’s 360° Tour in Toronto. They’ve been touring this sensory extravaganza for over two years now. Toronto was the seventh last city before the end of the line and you could tell they’ve got the show running like a well-oiled machine with soul.

I went to see this same show back in 2009 when the tour was much younger. I had 200 level seats at the Roger’s Centre, illness which is NOT known for its acoustic quality. Like I said, this the tour had just started in North America and it showed. The audio mix was bad (further worsened by the endless slap-back in the Roger’s Centre), and the band just didn’t seem to be on, like they usually are. I have seen several U2 shows and that one was the weakest. So, upon getting cheap, general admission seats for this show the other night, I thought, “Well, they’ve had two years to perfect things and if I can get close enough to the stage perhaps it will be a better experience.” Man, was I right!

My buddy and I showed up early enough to get fairly close to the front of the crowd lined up outside the stadium. We eventually got let in and raced to the floor to get as close to the stage without getting into the pit. If you haven’t been to the show, the stage extends out both sides with a circular catwalk, creating a pit space between the catwalk and the stage. It’s a pretty wicked spot to be in ‘cuz you’re in the centre of the action. But we opted for being front and centre on the other side of the catwalk. That way we could see the LCD screen above the stage better and still be close to the action. And let me tell you, we were freakin’ close to the action! Within the first couple of songs I had Bono four feet away from me, reaching out to a woman beside me. In his usual theatrical fashion, he was standing on the very edge of the catwalk, straining to reach over to the crowd, pretending to try and grab her hand and just as their fingertips were about to touch, he slowly drew back as if he was being pulled away,leaving everyone in her vicinity screaming, as if to say, “Nooooooo! You CAN reach her! C’mon, man! You gotta touch her hand!” Oh Bono, you’re such a tease.

Now, I’m not going to try to sell you on U2. You either love them or you are ambivalent. I actually haven’t met anyone who is a U2-hater. But I’m sure they’re out there. Regardless, love ’em, hate ’em, or don’t care, you can’t deny U2 knows how to play a crowd. Having a front and centre view of the show last night, Bono’s showmanship was overwhelmingly clear. He is a true master of working the audience.

The set was varied and crowd-pleasing. And while this tour was in support of their last album, “No Line On The Horizon”, they only played three songs from it. Of course, at this point in their career, every concert is simply an opportunity for fans to experience their favourite songs. U2 covered lots of classics from “Achtung Baby”, “Joshua Tree” and “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”, along with their greatest hits like “Pride”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “I Will Follow”. There wasn’t a dud on the list. The night was a total crowd-pleaser.

One thing that was more obvious to me this time, down on the floor and in front of the stage, was how incredible the lights and video are. The light show leaves you breathless. The video work is eye-popping without being over-the-top. In fact, what became apparent to me, this time out, was how U2 has managed to combine the best of both their worlds; from the larger-than-life to the intimate and heartfelt. The centre stage was stripped down to the very basics, four guys and their instruments jamming together like old friends. Meanwhile, all around them was this monster-sized claw housing all the sound and lights and a massive cylindrical screen that creatively allows for every spectator in the room to see the same image at all times. Just think “Popmart” meets the “Elevation” tour. It worked very nicely, showcasing all that U2 does best.

Now, I know critics often poo-poo the political messaging that U2 has infused in their shows since the beginning. But this critic will do no such thing. In fact, this tour is one of the best for having a balanced infusion of the band’s favourite charities. Instead of going in multiple directions throughout the night, Bono waited until the end to showcase the release, this year, of Aung San Suu Kyi (Burmese political prisoner), declaring that it was evidence of the power of all who support groups like Amnesty International, to create justice for people like her. What was really refreshing was how celebratory and hopeful it all was. This time Bono focused on the good that has been done to inspire us to continue to support; a unique twist that felt natural, genuinely exciting and right.

It’s sad to think that it might be a while before I get the chance to see U2 live again. It is always an experience that you carry with you long after they tear the stage down. And I, for one, will relish in the memories of  July 11th until the boys are back in town.

About the Author

Craig the Critic


  1. Hellz ya! BEST SHOW EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Abso-freaking-lutely incredible!
    What else can I say!

    Oh, and yes, Interpol sucked it hard! What a contrast!

  2. Dead on assessment. My first U2 concert didn’t disappoint. For 2.5 hours I was lifted into another realm of musical genius, and theatrical ecstasy. I’m still in shock with how good the performance was…. My only hope is that they’ll return someday with their next long awaited album.

    • They may be back sooner than we think. Rumour has it they’ll be releasing their upcoming project early second half of 2012. So, it’s very possible they could be touring and in Toronto before the end of next year :))

  3. Wow! you got floors. What a lucky fella!
    How ON EARTH did you manage to get those???

    • some jerk-wad called me a couple days before and sold them to me ;P

  4. Craig – awesome review of the show! It was so great to meet you and Mike and experience this amazing show together. You guys were fun to hang out with! Love the video because I WAS RIGHT THERE BESIDE YOU when we were THAT CLOSE TO BONO!!!! I will remember that concert for the rest of my life! If you have any great pictures to share, please email me. I am still regretting that I did not take my camera that night….not ever thinking that we would be that close to the stage. Cheers to you and Mike!

    • Thanks for the message. Ya, amazing night! It was great to experience it with you fine folks 🙂 Maybe we’ll bump into you at the next U2 concert!

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