INsite Magazine

Monday, October 12, 2009

Review: U2 Plays Tampa

When David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” began playing over the speakers in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the crowd cheered. Fans knew it was almost time for U2 to take the stage on their latest stadium tour. U2 has a love-hate relationship with stadiums, but dichotomy has often defined the band. They careened from the spirituality of the Joshua Tree tour, which played Tampa Stadium in 1987, to the Vegas glitz of the Popmart tour which played Houlihan Stadium in Tampa in 1997. This year’s U2 360 tour is somewhere in between—filled with glitz, but with a darker side.

The giant claw stage is unique, and impressive, with high-tech edginess that allows fans in the cheap seats to see a show as well as the fans inside the circular ramps. After show-openers Muse played eight or 9 songs, U2 hit the stage.

During the show, thanks to satellite communication, Bono chatted with a clown in outer space. Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte appeared on the giant video screen talking to Bono about how Earth looked from aboard the International Space Station. U2 then performed Elevation, one of their 22-song set in front of the largest crowd ever at this stadium (more than the Super Bowl's 70,000, Bono announced.)
A civil rights speech was merged into MLK and Walk On, with the stage encircled by people sporting paper masks of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The setlist featured half a dozen songs from the new album No Line on the Horizon. There were also snippets of "Stand By Me,” “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” and “Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.”

In 1987, U2 ended the show with “40” (a spiritual U2 song based on Psalm 40—not malt liquor, for those of you in Rio Linda) and left the stage. Fans continued singing the song, stuck in a moment they didn’t want to leave. This time the band ended with “Moment of Surrender,” and descended a ramp while waving to the fans behind the stage, and by extension, waving to everybody else via the giant video screen, as fans began exiting the stadium.

—Story and photos by John Davisson

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