U2 In Barcelona: A Two Hour Dazzling And Surreal Fireworks Show

U2log.com reviews U2’s 360 Tour Opening Nights in Barcelona.

by Fabienne Tafani
by Fabienne Tafani

It is rather tricky to assess a tour, especially a U2 tour, based on two shows alone – a fortiori, the two shows that launched a world tour such as the 360°. In this case, the job seemed all the more perilous to me, since I had lukewarm feelings about the Vertigo Tour in 2005. Compared with the previous U2 tours, the outdoor leg had left me frustrated in terms of overall concept, stage design and lack of communication between the band and its audience. It is a completely different story, though, that began at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, on June 30th and July 1st.

As soon as you get into the stadium, the hugeness of the stage takes your breath away – a stage that is halfway between unidentified flying object and a futuristic sci-fi spaceship. As a result, Camp Nou, the biggest stadium in Europe, ends up looking like a humble, modest-sized host. The pitch looks strangely shrunk, allowing every member of the audience to feel close to the stage. To succeed in expressing a feeling of intimacy mixed with outrageousness: that was the announced – and achieved – tour de force. The eagerness of the passionate Spanish and international audience, contributed to the greatness of both nights. Right from the start at 9pm, the whole venue was on fire and the Mexican wave went round the stadium numerous times, the audience loudly showing their support for the band.

As soon as the band gets on stage, the tone is set for the night. It is Bono on one of his great days, fevered and kicking, the one who is able to fire up crowds with one single gesture. The four members of the band look close-knit again, and do their best to fill the huge stage that they stride all along the shows. They seem happy and proud to be on stage, on this stage, and they keep on smiling, laughing, and winking at the audience. A few little technical problems or skipped lyrics remind us that they are not blasé or polished robots, but simply artists under pressure despite their thirty-year long live experience. The satellite link with the International Space Station on the first night definitely settles the exceptional nature of this tour configuration.

As for set-lists, U2 seems to have picked up a three-part outline. The central part shifts both nights, leaving space for numerous surprises, such as Electrical Storm, Angel of Harlem, Desire, and Party Girl. The 360° Tour is marked by songs from The Unforgettable Fire album, which is consistent with the omnipresence of Brian Eno’s sounds on the album No Line On the Horizon.

The big risk-taking of these nights lies in the exciting remixed version of I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t go Crazy Tonight, which instantly turns the gig into a huge techno party. The band seems to define itself now as part of the 00’s, as they highlight numerous titles of their latest “trilogy”: No Line On The Horizon of course, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. The explosive response of the audience to City of Blinding Lights and Vertigo, shows that the Vertigo Tour is still deeply anchored in the spirits, and that U2 is now carried by a huge number of fans who joined in five years ago.

In the end, the overall impression left by these shows is paradoxically (even) more visual than musical. The beautifully-enlightened Claw offers two hours of a dazzling and surreal fireworks show, partly in the manner of the artwork of Gaudi, who inspired its design.

These shows also highlight something new: one of U2’s features is to invent and design tour concepts in perfect harmony with the albums that inspires them. And yet, the link between the 360° Tour and the album No Line On The Horizon is far from obvious at first sight – apart from the tour being a support for the new titles. There is even a striking gap between the extreme sobriety of the album artwork, the relative classicism of the songs and the gigantic visual explosion that is displayed during the shows. For the first time in the history of U2, the tour was not named after one of the album’s titles or lyrics. It seems that two projects have been created in parallel, without real crossroads – but the result works surprisingly well.

Bring on Milan, Paris and the rest of the world tour!

U2 360 Barcelona July 2, 2009

Also known as: Who are you and what have you done with our band?

(Electrical Storm, courtesy U2006com)

U2 play their second night of the 360 tour in Barcelona. There were fewer people in the queue (perhaps people couldn’t face another day of 30 degrees celcius) and getting into the FOS-area (front of stage) was easier. In the afternoon the band soundchecked, including Electrical Storm and both the remix and album versions of Crazy Tonight. U2tour.de reports that 30 minutes before the show there is no sight of Bono’s monitor, which he would need for another ISS uplink.

It quickly becomes apparent U2 have come to KILL. Surprise after surprise emerges from the stage: Desire, Party Girl and the big fan favourite ‘Electrical Storm’ sees its live debut. Then they really put the crazy in Crazy Tonight, playing *BOTH* the remix and the album version. The album version, which came during the second encore, was filmed. Perhaps a video for its single release.


  1. Breathe [ Video ]
  2. No Line on the Horizon
  3. Get on your boots [ Video ]
  4. Magnificent
  5. Beautiful Day (snippet: Here comes the sun)
  6. I Still Haven’t Found what I’m looking for (snippet: Moving on up) [ Video ]
  7. Desire (snippets: Billie Jean and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough) [ Video ]
  8. Party Girl (Girl on stage carries Bono around!) [ Video // download audio]
  9. Electrical Storm [ Video // Alternate // Alternate II]
  10. Unknown Caller
  11. The Unforgettable Fire [ Video ]
  12. City of Blinding Lights
  13. Vertigo [ Video ]
  14. I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight (remix version) [ Video ]
  15. Sunday Bloody Sunday [ Video // Alternate ]
  16. Pride
  17. MLK
  18. Walk On (snippet: You’ll never walk alone)
  19. Where the streets have no name [ Video // Alternate ]
  20. One [ Video ]
  21. Ultra Violet (Light my way) [ Video ]
  22. With or Without you [ Video ]
  23. I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight (album version) [ Video ]
  24. Moment of Surrender

Click for more video and images

U2 360 opening night: Barcelona June 30, 2009

We’re sat behind a computer, but fans inside the stadium are bringing the show to us semi-live through the wonder of Twitter (and Twitter related services) and mobile streaming.

The band played the same set as they did yesterday at their dress rehearsal. Things didn’t all go according to plan. There was a bit of a tuning problem during ‘One’ which made the band stop and start again.

Although Aung San Suu Kyi masks were handed out to the audience, people didn’t seem too pushed to wear them during Walk On, despite masked kids walking on the stage ramp giving the example. Lesson for the band… perhaps let the audience arrange their own flash mobs, instead of trying to control their creativity.

The large suspended circular screen can be lowered and can also conjure up nifty 3D effects. Friends at the show were in awe of the production during The Unforgettable Fire (so pleased that song is back!) and were especially impressed with the sound in the stadium. We can also reveal that the red flood of lights is back for Streets.

There were a few other surprises. When Bono took off his jacket he revealed, perhaps predictably, a Barcelona FC team shirt, which was then swapped for an LED-encrusted jacket during Ultra Violet.

Perhaps the most surreal moment of this Space Age inspired show (the last song of the intro tape was Bowie’s Space Oddity, the outro tune was Elton John’s Rocket Man) was the live link up (video) with astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS), one of the crew apparently signing up for Bono’s ONE campaign on the spot.

Click for setlist, video and pictures