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December 11, 2017

A ‘Beautiful Day’ for U2 fans at Gillette Stadium

U2Gillette Stadium was rocking this past “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but it wasn’t the Patriots sweating under the hot lights.

The world-renowned Irish rock band U2 landed its 360 degree tour in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 20 and 21. Amazingly, the group still consists of its original four members: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., all of whom are in their late 40s.

The 31-year-old band released its 12th studio album, “No Line on the Horizon,” this past February, their first since “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” in 2004. Their latest received five stars from Rolling Stone; better than the four their last one obtained.

“Horizon” was the number one album on Billboards Top 200 its first week on the shelf, staying in the top three for the next two weeks. It still remains on the list 28 weeks later, currently sitting at number 88.

The band has been amidst its current world tour since June 30, but just recently made their first stop in the United States on Sept. 12 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. Before Foxborough, they played two shows at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

The stage at Gillette resembled a huge alien spacecraft, set on the end zone furthest from the main entrance of the stadium. It was constructed in such a way that fans could see the concert from 360 degrees around the stage; hence, the name of the tour.

According to its website, Gillette Stadium seats 68,756 people, just under twice the population of Amherst. Each and every one of those seats was sold; the most expensive of which went for $252.50.

U2’s popularity is so abundant that they have played multiple shows in 11 out of the 18 cities they’ve stopped in so far. They even played three shows in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland.

Snow Patrol, known for their hit “Chasing Cars,” has been the primary opening act throughout the world tour. Muse will be taking over the role until Oct. 18, when the torch will be passed to the Black Eyed Peas for the remainder of the scheduled tour dates.

Sunday’s show began much later than expected, which was good for those who wanted to binge as many $8.50 beers as their stomachs – and wallets – could handle. All alcohol sales ended once the main act began.

Drummer Mullen Jr. was the first to take the stage, banging a drum riff to pump up the crowd. Fans young and old, men and women alike screamed like preteen girls at a Jonas Brothers concert when Bono and The Edge appeared and began the set. 

Their first four songs were off their latest album, which was a main source for their material throughout the night, as they played six of its tracks.

The group started with “Breathe,” followed by the album’s title track, “No Line on the Horizon.”

Clearly just riding the excitement of the start of the show, it wasn’t until “Get On Your Boots,” that they truly won over the crowd with their music. The song, which has a striking similarity to the one-hit wonder “Wild Wild West” by the Escape Club, ignited fans to start rocking out with powerful guitar-work by The Edge.

It seemed to be the perfect time to play a hit, but rather they unfortunately continued to promote their album and went with “Magnificent.”

Possibly the best performance of the whole night came next when they played “Mysterious Ways.” The moment the famous funky guitar riff pumped through the amps, everything that could breathe in the colossal arena went crazy.

Thankfully, Bono and crew chose to follow that song with a powerful recital of “Beautiful Day,” which ended with a short cover of “Blackbird” by the Beatles.

After playing “Elevation,” they returned to their strengths and performed “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” also ending in a cover; this time of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

U2 ended a variety of their hit songs with such covers that were not necessarily true to the original sound, but interesting and entertaining nonetheless. 

After a poor rendition of “Unknown Caller,” they picked it up for a stretch of hits which included “New Year’s Day,” “Stuck In A Moment,” “The Unforgettable Fire,” “City of Blinding Lights” and “Vertigo,” which included another ode to the Beatles with “She Loves You.”

Following yet another song from the last record, Bono brought his political views to the stage for the first time for “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Images of Iranian violence were displayed on the large circular screen above the stage, and the song ended with a very short and soft cover of “Rock the Casbah.”

“MLK” and “Walk On” were next, and they seemed to be the final songs of the regular set list. The band took what at the time seemed like an “encore break,” and returned to the stage and played a very passionate and beautiful “One.”

Bono sang “Amazing Grace” which bridged “One” right into “Where the Streets Have No Name.” The whole audience sang along for all three songs as the end of the show was inevitably near.

They once again left the stage, and returned for a legitimate encore. Bono sang into a neon microphone resembling the Target logo for their first encore song, “Ultra Violet.”

“With or Without You” was next and should have been the last song of the night, but they returned for one final song from “No Line on the Horizon” with “Moment of Surrender.”

People began to file out after “With or Without You,” as it seemed that the general consensus was that U2 should have done without the last shout out to their new record.

Overall, they put on an incredible show. Fewer songs from “Horizon” and more from previous albums would have made the concert perfect.

While Bono is often criticized for being too political, his message throughout the end of the concert wasn’t as much political as it was charitable. It’s evident that there is more we can do to help people dying in Third World countries from preventable causes.

While U2 is a very well-known and admired band for their work in the studio, seeing them live is an experience that cannot be fathomed or imagined without being there. Hearing Bono’s bellowing “yeah” cries and dynamic voice live is spine-tingling.

U2 fans undoubtedly can look forward to more world tours and number-one albums in the future. The group hasn’t skipped a beat in over 30 years, and show no signs of slowing down.

Justin Gagnon can be reached at

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