In The Capital Of Surrealism (Godfather Records GR403/404)
Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – June 30th, 2009
Disc 1 (77:33): Intro., Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Movin’ On Up, Angel of Harlem / Man In The Mirror / Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, In A Little While, Unknown Caller, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
Disc 2 (72:00): Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride, MLK, Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone, Where the Streets Have No Name, One, Ultraviolet, With Or Without You, Moment of Surrender. Bonus tracks, Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – July 2nd, 2009: Desire / Billie Jean / Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough, Party Girl, Electrical Storm
U2 began their 360 tour with two shows in Barcelona, Spain. Godftather’s new release In The Capital Of Surrealism is a two disc set with the complete opening night and bonus tracks from the second. Excellent stereo audience recordings are used for both, perfectly capturing the dynamics of the performances. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve with pictures from the show make this an excellent momento of the event.
The June 30th show is a shaky performance for an opening night. Seven new songs are given their debut and the opening numbers sound very strong. “Angel Of Harlem” is dedicated to Michael Jackson and before “Unknown Caller” they do a lengthy linkup with the International Space Station. “The Unforgettable Fire,” which follows, is played for the first time since January 6th, 1990.
“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight is played as a dance remix with Larry playing a bongo on the catwalk. During “Walk On” a group of youths walk around the catwalk wearing Aung San Suu Kyi masks. The final song of the set is “One” which they band mess up, only to start again. A Desmond Tutu video about the ONE Campaign plays before the encores which include “Ultraviolet” played for the firsttime since the Dublin radio broadcast on August 28th, 1993, “With Or Without You,” and “Moment of Surrender.”
Media reviews tended to focus upon the revolutionary stage design an its effect upon the performance.
“It’s only rock’n’roll, but for a band of U2’s stature, it sure takes some organizing these days. The 120 trucks needed to freight the 164ft centrepiece of the group’s new 360-degree Tour emptied out their load two weeks ahead of this, the first of 44 stadium shows.”After opening with four songs from the group’s current album No Line On The Horizon, Bono explained his group’s decision to begin their latest adventure in Barcelona. “This is where we wanted to build a space station, designed by Gaudi in the capital of surrealism.” But if the huge green four-legged edifice on the Nou Camp pitch – christened The Claw – was inspired by Gaudi, no-one had told the group’s stage and lighting designer, Willie Williams.
“Some weeks previously, he had already said that the intent had been to create something between the Theme Building at Los Angeles Airport and the fairground machine in Toy Story.“Over the years U2 have experimented with many different ways of presenting their music, and yet the basic thing at which Bono uniquely excels has remained unchanged. The expression of holy love in a pop song fires up something in Bono that – whilst not hugely hip in rock’n’roll terms – utterly disarms you. At the Nou Camp, these seemed to be the songs that teased out the most goosebumps. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For would have still shaken the foundations, even if Bono hadn’t draped himself in a Spanish flag and begun singing Primal Scream’s Moving On Up over the final minute of the song. Having lain dormant for twenty years, The Unforgettable Fire found its way back into the U2 live set, vast ambient synth oscillations and all, sounding as haunting as ever.
“Carried on the back of The Edge’s stratospheric guitar lines, Magnificent showed a band who, on a good day, can still match the peaks of their imperial years. But, at times, this fell well short of being one of those good days.
“A seemingly scripted satellite link-up with the orbiting International Space Station was intended to remind us that we all had a duty to look after “the beautiful blue earth”. Instead, it reminded us that satellite link-ups can drain even a packed Nou Camp of all its atmosphere if allowed to go on for long enough.
“Their attempt to reimagine I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight as a mid-set trance-techno wig-out did their dignity no favours whatsoever.
“And, impressive as the huge quadruped was, you couldn’t help feeling that this “claw” – designed to engage all of the crowd no matter what their vantage point – was ultimately an impediment to intimacy. Playing directly beneath the structure, the four members of U2 had never seemed so tiny. Using the walkways and bridges to reach out to their fans was fine, but only as long as the technology served to assist them. For whatever reason, the group seemed to lose all contact with each other for One. As The Edge soldiered on, his guitar wildly out of tune, a visibly agitated Bono lost his place altogether. He instructed his guitarist to stop, but the ensuing version was no less agonizing.
“Some 40ft away, Mullen and Adam Clayton’s mortified corpsing said it all. And yet, to a crowd who had come to celebrate their favourite band, it all seemed to go unnoticed. Having donned the hallowed Barcelona shirt a few minutes before, the last in a long line of travelling sales people led his band into an intense valedictory With Or Without You. As a lesson in keeping the customer happy – regardless of the product – you had to admire it.” (The Times, U2 at Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Pete Paphides).
“GROUND CONTROL to Major Tom,” sang David Bowie as the four members of U2 walked onto the stage of Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium last night to begin their “360 Degree” world tour. It was a fitting choice of introduction: on this tour U2 are unveiling a revolutionary new stage design – “the Claw” – which looks like a spaceship held up by four spindly legs.
“This configuration means there is no stage as such, allowing the band to play in the round. The impression you get is that the band are sitting in the palm of the audience’s hand.
“Waiting for night to fall in Barcelona so they could show off their impressive light show, the band didn’t take to the stage until 10pm local time but they were ecstatically received by a 80,000 crowd. Kicking off with a muscular Breathe from the new album, they then turned it up to 11 for No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots and Magnificent.” (Irish Times, U2 Beguile with a turn to the space age as ‘Claw’ stage make, by Brian Boyd).If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)