It was early December in 2005, and Australians everywhere geared up to purchase tickets to what would be a sell-out concert in record time. U2 was coming to Australia for the first time in eight years. Then, weeks before the scheduled show, U2 cancelled, citing a death in the family of one of the members, pushing the concert back eight months to November of 2006.
Personal expectations weren't high - after all, it was the Telstra Stadium, the former Olympic venue that is hardly the best place for music. The supporting act seemed to support this notion - none other than Kanye West, fresh from his his stage-invasion at the European Music Video Awards the week before.
His entire act cried of a lack of effort. The sound was horrible, the stage completely bare save a backup singer, a DJ, and a strings quartet. When I wasn't struggling to hear what he was rapping about, I was embarrassed to find myself listening to the first "wave your hands in the air like you just don't care" line since Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreets Back)" nearly a decade ago. Thankfully, his set lasted for only five songs, the most enjoyable moment of which was a decent transition by the strings quartet from Gnarls Barkleys' "Crazy" to The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," a pleasure short-lived by Kanye's unfortunate rapping cameo.
An hour later and U2 finally graced the stage. It was a strange opening, considering the band had to enter the stadium itself before being able to get behind the stage. All the while fans were screaming. Nevertheless, the lights darkened and U2 exploded into "City of Blinding Lights," with beautiful sound and an instant personal revelation that perhaps Telstra Stadium isn't all bad.
From there U2 continually amazed, they quickly knocked off their later non-sensical songs like "Vertigo" and "Elevation" to quickly make room for the classics. The majority of their set was derived from their '80s collection, a clear indication that they were there to please the fans. Bono's political views would inevitably emerge at some point during the concert, and it was little surprise it first occurred during "Sunday Bloody Sunday," certainly one of their greatest political songs.
The political side of the concert ranged across various topics, using various styles. From straight-out preaching to the use of song, Bono enamored the crowd with his political agenda, at one point entering the stage wearing a headband boasting symbols representing Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. His attempt to engage the audience with the chant "Jesus, Mohammed, Jew, it's true," was a little weird and many were hesitant to join in. Perhaps the weirdest, however, was a recording on the huge screen behind the band of an African woman declaring an end to slavery. Not so weird in itself, but for some reason, the band then decided to interrupt her, breaking into the upbeat, "Where The Streets Have No Name," the woman cutoff mid-sentence and her face quickly fading from the screen. Perhaps it was a glitch, but weird nonetheless.