More popular than the Pope, the Irish rock band U2 broke the attendance record for New Jersey's Giants Stadium set by John Paul II in 1995, drawing 84,472 fans to the massive complex on Sept. 24, with one of the most spectacular shows ever presented.
Redefining the epic stadium show, U2 presented a mammoth, awe-inspiring spectacular that dwarfs anything they or any other group has previously attempted.
Bono has reported that he wanted to create less distance between audience and artist allowing the band to perform in the center of stadium-sized audiences on their latest live venture, and thus $100 million later, they are touring with a gigantic, spider-like, sci-fi structure that he has described as, "a space station designed by Gaudi."
Photos by JON WOODHOUSE
Bono fills the mammoth cylindrical video screen.
Dubbed "The Claw," this contemporary colossus - weighing nearly 390 tons and extending 165 feet into the heavens (needing 180 trucks to move it) - towers over a vast circular stage complete with extended walkways and bridges. An engineering marvel, it includes a newly invented, massive cylindrical video screen, which allows even the nose-bleed sections decent viewing.
Fittingly the countdown section from David Bowie's "Space Oddity" boomed out over the stadium to herald U2's imminent arrival as the band members appeared one by one to launch into a thunderous version of "Breathe," from their latest CD, "No Line On The Horizon."
"We've got old songs, we've got new songs, and we've got songs we're not sure we can even play," Bono announced. "And we've got a spaceship, so let's go!"
A magnetic singer and master of the rock stage projecting intimate connection with so many thousands, Bono and his phenomenal band mates were on fire delivering one rousing, sing-along anthem after another.
With celebrities such as, "Mick Jagger in the house," Bono noted, plus Julian Lennon, rocker Phil Ramone, rapper Kanye West and New York's mayor in attendance, U2 amply demonstrated how they're the world's greatest rock band.
With missionary zeal, like other great artists of our time, U2 employ their music not simply as a means to get yer ya-yas out, but also as a potent vehicle to uplift, embolden and shape change. Thus they devoted time to honoring Iranian democracy demonstrators with a ferocious version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which included a snippet of The Clash's "Rock the Casbah;" and "Walk On" was framed as a tribute to Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, who has been suppressed for years by that nation's military dictatorship.
This heroic woman merited a two-page inclusion in the official tour program with a pull-out mask of her smiling face.
"If you have a picture take it out, if you have a mask put it on," Bono encouraged. "Let her face be our face this evening."
And later, a beaming Desmond Tutu appeared on the giant video screen, praising aid to Africa before introducing "One," which segued into "Amazing Grace," followed by a breathtaking "Where the Streets Have No Name," and a taste of the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."
The band's inspirational mission was summed up by Bono on "Magnificent," a stirring new classic from the latest CD. "I was born to sing for you," he notes. "I didn't have a choice but to lift you up."
Infusing solemn subjects with passionate enthusiasm these amazing Irish musicians inducted thousands of enthusiastic fans into the church of U2, transforming the concert experience into a joyous, unified celebration.
* Contact Jon Woodhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org.