A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO END U2’s 2009 360 TOUR

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It seemed like we’ve waited for years  for the highly anticipated U2 concert in Vancouver. Two days ago REC and I braved the crowds and blistering cold to line-up for hours just to be in front of the artistically crafted “claw” stage. Days before the concert, we did our extensive research with blogs and other crazy U2 fans to strategize the best time to arrive, and what to expect. Knowing that U2 is arguably the biggest band in the entire world, we were going to go all out for this. Taking a day off from work was probably the easiest feat of the entire ordeal.

REC arrived just minutes after 8am on the morning of, to find himself amidst other 300 something fans  who were already in line since the morning before. Not only are U2 fans crazy, but very organized. They had a numbering system and took down names in sequential order to ensure that there were no cheaters, budgers, or for any crafty excuse to jump in line.  Lucky for myself, I had the opportunity to sleep in and REC was lucky to save me a spot and a number when I joined him at noon.

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The morning was unusually cold, but with the company of other chatty fans and U2 tunes blasting off ipod docking systems, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Our out-of-town neighbours had an amazing U2 story to share. One that was probably better than attending the concert itself. They arrived in Vancouver from Portland, Oregon the night before and decided to go for drinks at the bar of the three-star Best Western hotel at 1am in the morning. As they walked in, someone looked eerily familiar, and to their surprise, it was Bono. Yes, Bono of U2, and they had a photo to prove it. Unbelievable. Funnily enough, Bono looked exactly like he did on stage in the photo. He donned his red sunglasses and his bad boy looking apparel. The line grew by minutes and by early afternoon, the line grew to over a thousand people. At 3pm, U2 security came by to advised us to either pack up our belongings or expect to leave everything behind. We were allowed one bag per person, one unopened bottle of water, and no umbrellas.

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Doors opened at 5pm ( just when the rain started pouring down) and we were requested to walk in an orderly fashion to eschew chaos. The numbering system worked like a charm as lazy fans tried to create every excuse in the book to jump in. As soon as we were given access to BC place, we frantically ran in trying to find the only entrance to the inner circle. The inner circle fit 2,500 people, and with the 10,000 people with General Admission tickets, there was not ime to waste. Even on an empty stomach, dripping wet hair, and sore legs from standing all day, we managed to find a spot in front of the stage.  U2 072

Black Eyed Peas inaugurated the evening  with a spectacular 50 minute performance. It was the best opening act I’ve ever seen. Their energy permeated throughout the room as they sang their popular tunes. I guess I was in awe to how close I was to the BEPs and the guitarist decided to throw me his guitar pick. He missed and the pick fell just inches from the stage, lucky for me, the security guard was nice enough to look for it and give it to me. I’m starstruck. Fergie slowed down the performance with her hit ballad, Big Girls Don’t Cry.  To top it off, Fergie started dancing in front of me, and I took out my camera and she started posing for my photo.  An amazing performance indeed.

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After a 45 minute intermission, U2 came out in style as 60,000 fans screamed in their honour. Bono asked the crowd excitedly, “Where are we going on the SkyTrain? Millennium Line. Expo Line. Canada Line.” Fans screamed even louder.  Even with 60,000 fans in the room, it was an intimate concert where they connected with the audience throughout. They played their classic favourites – Elevation, Beautiful Day, Sunday, Bloody, Sunday.  After the sixth song, Bono announced that Bill Gates was in the room and started singing Happy Birthday to him as it was his birthday. Bill Gates has been a strong supporter for U2’s charitable efforts and it was an honour to have him attend the last show of the year.

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A memorable highlight was when U2 yanked a little girl from the crowd, took her hand, and ran around the circular outer stage  as he sang Vertigo. As the returned back to their original place, he kneeled in front of her and finished the rest of the song.  Before she returned back to her spot, he took off  his infamous sunglasses and put it on her face. A sweet and endearing moment you don’t expect at a rock concert.

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I waited eagerly for him to sing my favourite U2 song, With or Without You and I knew the evening could not end without it. After three encore songs, he finally sang With or Without You with the glitterati red mic that dropped from the ceiling.

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The evening ended with bittersweet feelings as Bono expressed his gratitude to his fans and his love for his  fellow band members. It ended with heart-felt hugs and Bono then proclaimed “You know men don’t usually hug” which erupted a chuckle from the fans.

Though I sacrificed an entire day waiting in line in the 4 degree weather and rain for a couple hours of entertainment, it was definitely well worth it. The experience was completed with the aura exuded from the passionate fans, and the breathtaking claw stage. This will definitely not be my last U2 concert.  Yes, I’m stuck in a moment that I can’t get out of. 🙂

For 2010 tour dates visit their website.

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