Monday, April 18th 2011
For the past few weeks, U2 has been stomping around on their giant-claw-powered 360º Tour stage in South America, with Muse supporting. Antiquiet had a writer / fan in the right place at the right time, and thus slipped into the third of three gigs in São Paulo, Brazil.
As both bands are known for stadium-rock overkill, Muse was far from uncomfortable in the 90,000-people capacity Morumbi Stadium. The last time I saw Muse live, they were at a small venue with a malfunctioning screen, poor light show and shitty acoustics; a familiar scenario for most rock bands. Yet Muse was more at home in the huge venue, even connecting better with the audience. Their setlist balanced rare fan-favorites with singles, along with matured versions of several songs from the band’s latest album, The Resistance. The group managed to please both the superfans present as well as people who were just getting to know the band, and walked off to a standing ovation from the entire stadium.
U2, playing their third night in the same city, in a country famous for vibrant crowd participation (as Bono said, “in Brazil, it’s you [that] put on a show for us”), had pretty much the perfect setting laid out for them. The much-talked-about ridiculous claw-shaped stage took full advantage of its carbon footprint with a tremendous light show, and a production that would make KISS jealous. The Edge, Larry and Adam (the instrumental portion of the band), put all the right colors on all the right numbers with their usual precision and energy. Bono’s voice, on the other hand, wasn’t in particularly good shape.
Bono wasn’t singing poorly by any means, and he’s definitely had much worse shows in the past, but his voice was all over the place. There were times where it disappeared completely, especially in the songs that demanded more in terms of range. Luckily, the aforementioned crowd participation was at an all-time high, often sounding louder than the actual sound from stage, which blended away some of Bono’s rough spots. Crowd chants even overpowered a few of The Edge’s guitar solos.
As for the setlist, little has been changed throughout the 360º tour, but U2 always make it a point to include a few rarities when they stop by South America. Notably, they resurrected a couple of songs from their 90′s period: Even Better Than The Real Thing, reinvigorated as an opener; and Zooropa, performed on this tour for the first time in its entirety, ever. It’s a shame that the rest of the set sticks so much to the classic material, and for some reason incorporates slow, classic-wannabe cuts from recent albums, such as Walk On and City Of Blinding Lights, along with stuff from No Line On The Horizon.
The live staples are as good as they always were, and get the crowd excited as well, but their seemingly permanent position on the set makes the rotating slots all the more exciting, at times outshining the rest of the show. This was the case when the band invited Seu Jorge onto the stage, a Brazilian musician who aside from being known for his work on the Life Aquatic soundtrack, made a good deal of international success with a covers album last year. However, instead of playing one of his songs (or any Brazilian song), they performed an acoustic cover version of Kraftwerk’s The Model. Yes, you read that correctly: the best moment of a U2 concert happened when they invited onstage a Brazilian musician to perform an acoustic cover of a German electronic music group. It might not seem much from watching the video, but seeing that song performed in a stadium (perhaps for the first time ever?), with 90 thousand people actually learning the chorus and singing along, was priceless:
Overall, U2 brought all spectacle with little surprise, but that’s what it’s about. Everyone gets the entertainment they came for. It won’t change the world or move music forward in any meaningful ways, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch.
Photos by Fabiane Fatima.