Sneak preview of U2's Vertigo Tour

Lucky fans waiting outside the L.A. Sports Arena were let into U2’s dress rehearsal for the Vertigo Tour on Friday afternoon.

They were patted down, then let into the arena where they joined radio contest winners from all over the United States. Together they filled five first-level sections on either side of the stage.

Ruth Barohn was one of the lucky fans to get a preview of U2’s Vertigo tour. She reports for

The reason

U2’s stage manager Rocco Reedy came out and addressed us from the catwalks, explaining that the band had just been rehearsing for the crew in empty arenas and needed feedback from the live audience.

The G.A. procedure
We were told that on show night, admission to the floor area will be be handled in a lottery-type fashion and that it will allow for people to enter with a buddy.

The stage

Once inside, we found out the stage setup is strikingly similar to the deeply-loved heart setup from the Elevation Tour. The round stage is made to look like the “Vertigo” video bulls-eye, with circular lights during certain songs to emphasize it.

Bono’s microphone is is set a bit deeper back with a step down in front of him to bring him closer to the crowd. The catwalks are identical to the previous tours. There is, once again, a huge big video screen, also identical to the Elevation Tour screen. It has additional screens coming down further back when needed.

Six lights hang above the stage. They resemble heat-lamps in a beauty shop, light ‘shower-screens’ come down during many songs for additional interesting lighting effects -– think beaded curtains from the ‘60’s.

The show

The intro music for the set was The Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ and at the end of the song, Bono’s voice was heard saying ‘everyone’ loudly, over and over again. The the lights slammed down and the intro of ‘City of Blinding Lights’ chimed through the hall. As the lights came back up, confetti dropped from the ceiling and four familiar figures filled the stage. Bono was standing out at the tip of the catwalk brandishing a light while Adam played the keyboard intro. The crowd excitedly shouted the chorus back to the band.

For the next song, Bono said that they were going to go back to where they started and a single screen descended above Larry with the album cover of ‘Boy’ as they launched into ‘The Electric Co.’. The trip back to the band’s premiere effort continued with ‘An Cat Dubh’ and ‘Into The Heart’, both of which the die-hard crowd was surprised -– and thrilled –-to hear, evidenced in how they screamed along throughout.

More recent material followed with the next six selections. ‘Beautiful Day’ included the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ at the end and ‘Miracle Drug’ had Bono saying to the crowd, ‘I don’t need to tell the story… you know the story,’ referring to the tale of the song’s inspiration. ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’ was dedicated to Bono’s father, Bob Hewson, and an image of a man walking moved from one shower-screen to another as Bono passionately sang the song from the tip of the catwalks.

A truly powerful rendition of ‘Love And Peace Or Else’ beginning with that unmistakable heavy bass drone followed, with Larry joining Bono at the tip. Bono walked over to him and together they sang the ‘release, release, release’ part of the song. As Bono danced, Larry played the single drum and when the words concluded, Larry walked back to the stage and Bono picked up Mr. Mullen’s drum sticks and pounded away till the song’s conclusion.

Edge’s guitar and Bono’s vocal were the only instruments used during the first verse of ‘Elevation’ before the rhythm section kicked in. An acoustic ‘Stuck In A Moment’ followed, with Edge on piano and Bono on guitar. The ending was extended as Edge sang his beautiful falsetto part several times over before Adam and Larry joined and upped the pace to the conclusion.

‘Yahweh’ saw Larry on the keyboards and Bono highlighting the bass talents of Adam Clayton during the end of the song.

A couple of Joshua Tree favorites followed with ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ and ‘Running To Stand Still’. After Edge’s guitar solo in Bullet (complete with blood red lighting), Bono said how he didn’t know what to do there; to give a speech or what, so he told Edge to just continue his impressive solo.

At the conclusion of a powerful Running (one of the obvious favorites of the crowd) smoke filled up around the stage as Bono introduced the Declaration of Human Rights. The powerful document scrolled up the big screen with taped video of people reading along with it.

The band then touched their next album, ‘Achtung Baby’, with ‘Zoo Station’ and ‘The Fly’. During ‘Zoo Station’ Bono and Edge (who was singing into a microphone head-set) came out to the tip and played, sang and danced back and forth. Bono even broke out his I’ve-been-electrocuted spasm at the beginning and later adlibbed the line, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready for San Diego”, anticipating the upcoming tour opener.

‘The Fly’ was very much a throwback to the Zoo TV Tour version including random words (‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’) flashing across the shower-screens and Bono on guitar.

‘A Spanish lesson,’ according to Bono, followed: ‘Vertigo’ had part of ‘Stories For Boys’ worked in toward the end and Bono encouraged the crowd to respond to his ‘hello, hello’ call.

Three staples were next. During ‘Pride (In The Name of Love)’ Bono asked the crowd to be quiet at one point so Edge could find his place again. Then ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ had the shower-screens morphing from one country’s flag to another.

During ‘One’, Bono explained to the crowd that they wanted to get one million people during the North American tour to use their cell phones to text to UNITY (86489) to support to bring attention to the AIDS and poverty crisis in Africa. The names of those whom text during the show would run across the big screen later during the concert.

Bono rocked the tambourine during ‘All Because of You’ as Edge ripped the big, open chords a la Pete Townsend. The singer stepped back from the mic and let the crowd scream for him during the bridge.

Reminiscent of tours up through Lovetown, this night closed with the anthem ’40’. Edge and Adam switched bass/guitar duties as in the past, as well as switching sides of the stage. Bono said goodnight right then and apologized to the crowd, saying that they would not be able to come back out to say goodnight because they had to go talk about what they had screwed up.

The show ended with a spotlight on Larry alone at the drums after his bandmates had left the stage and the crowd singing ‘How long to sing this song?’ over and over.

Although there were some technical difficulties, hitches with Bono’s memory of some lyrics and awkward segues between differently arranged parts of songs, by show’s end Bono felt confident enough in the performance to tell the crowd that this was not a rehearsal but rather the first show of the Vertigo 2005 World Tour.

The eggs
At the conclusion of ‘Yahweh’, Bono had wished the crowd a Happy Easter and told everyone to enjoy ‘the eggs’. As people exited the arena, they were handed Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs as a parting gift.

The setlist

  1. City of Blinding Lights
  2. The Electric Co.
  3. An Cat Dubh
  4. Into The Heart
  5. Beautiful Day (with Blackbird)
  6. Miracle Drug
  7. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  8. Love And Peace Or Else
  9. Elevation
  10. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
  11. Yahweh
  12. Bullet The Blue Sky
  13. Running To Stand Still
  14. Zoo Station
  15. The Fly
  16. Vertigo (with Stories For Boys)
  17. Pride (In The Name of Love)
  18. Where The Streets Have No Name
  19. One
  20. All Because of You
  21. 40