As a long-time fan of both Muse and U2, I almost peed my pants when I heard about this concert. It was a Thursday night and the train to Secaucus was completely packed. Along the way, there were a large amount of security personnel to help ease the flow of traffic to the stadium. The NJ Transit did not want a repeat of the night before (read the article here). The stadium was bursting at the seams with over 80,000 people in attendance and the weather was perfect.
Opening for U2 was the British rock trio, Muse. Bellamy, Howard, and Wolstenholme played a large amount of songs from their new album, The Resistance (read my review here) and offered a variety of past favorites as well. The members of Muse marched into the stadium to the instrumental ‘March of the Knights’ and aptly opened with their hit, ‘Knights of Cydonia.’ Crowd favorites included ‘Hysteria,’ ‘Supermassive Black Hole,’ ‘Starlight,’ and ‘Plug In Baby.’
Muse played a total of nine songs and ended just as the sun disappeared over the top of the stadium. The band didn’t get to use a large amount of the lighting/effects that the stage offered, but this was expected to be saved for the main act. The stage itself is transported by nearly 200 trucks and costs an insane $750,000 to set up each gig (no, that is not a typo). On the surface, it looks like a giant four-legged spider with a circular ring around the main stage, but it transforms as the show continues. U2 had quite the show ready for their audience.
The sky was now completely dark and brilliant lights of blue and green lit up the entire stadium. U2 opened with several songs off their newest album, No Line on the Horizon. Personally, I am not a huge fan of this album and prefer their older songs, so I wasn’t musically thrilled with the opening. However, once Bono started belting the lyrics to ‘Mysterious Ways’ and ‘Elevation,’ the crowd really got into it.
Bono and The Edge would walk around the stage’s outer rim, crossing over the rotating bridges and reaching out to the audience. At one point, Bono reached over the bridge and brought a young boy up on stage with him. He put his sunglasses on the kid and they ran around the outer stage during ‘City of Blinding Lights.’ The screen above the stage was amazing and portrayed a variety of designs and graphics, unique to each song. Memorable videos included Desmond Tutu introducing ‘One’ and a moving segment on Aung San Suu Kyi, an imprisoned human rights activist who became the focal point of the night’s show. Eventually, the screen expanded down to the ground and covered the center of the stage entirely.
As the night went on, the songs got better and better and the crowd became even more involved. Favorites like ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ filled the stadium and the lights were (once again) brilliant. Eventually, the stage transformed again and the screen folded to the ground, exposing a brightly-lit pillar that resembled a rocket.
At this point, the concert was winding down to its final songs. The band played over twenty songs and then performed a total of three encores, including ‘With or Without You.’ Aung San Suu Kyi was again acknowledged with a pre-encore performance of ‘Walk On’ and a group of fans wearing her mask (that was given out in the program) encircled the outer stage.
One of the most fascinating aspects about this concert was how U2 and Muse would both incorporate familiar melodic rhythms to transition between songs. Muse played a portion of U2’s ‘The Fly’ during ‘Uprising’ and U2 played portions of “All You Need is Love,’ ‘Amazing Love,’ and even ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.’ This really added a lot to the live performance of the concert and the personalities of both of these amazing bands.
Simply put, this concert was amazing. Muse proved to be one of the best live acts that I have ever seen and U2 did not disappoint at all. The stage was surreal and the lighting effects were phenomenal. The incorporation of familiar melodies and U2’s humanitarian ethos really added a lot to the concert as well. The only complaint that I have is that U2 played just a few too many of their new songs. I realize that they’re promoting their new album, but I am just not a fan. If you like the new album, then this would have been your perfect concert. Despite the seven or eight new songs played by U2, their performances of classic hits outweighed the new. Overall, this concert proves that U2 knows how to put on a show – whether you like them or not.
*Above pictures were taken by Cory Mabry