U2 Denver, 360° Tour at Invesco Field, 5/21/11

Categories: Concert Reviews

Photos by Aaron Thackeray

U2 360° TOUR
With The Fray
05.21.11 | Invesco Field
View U2 at Invesco Field slideshow

Say what you will about U2. Name another band that can fill a stadium these days... Time's up. Drawing a blank? That's because there aren't any -- certainly not any from this era. That said, you've got to give it the band its props: Without question, it can still put asses in the seats. Just the same, let's remember: The band has had more than three decades to cultivate its following. That's an eternity by today's standards.

By contrast, openers, the Fray -- who, along with U2's many other descendents, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Muse, Arcade Fire, is the the closest we come to something that passes for iconic these days -- is a bit of a marvel for still standing after two records and nearly a decade in the game. That said, not to take anything away from U2 or those bands, but c'mon, is it really all that noteworthy to be the tallest guy in a room full of short people?

Photo by Dave Herrera

But let's forget about all that for a moment, and talk about the actual tour itself. There's certainly been no shortage of folks, particularly within the U2 camp, willing to pat themselves on the back for the grandiosity of the whole spectacle. And to be clear, it is a spectacle. The towering, ostentatious structure -- which, you can probably see from space, and which takes nearly as long to erect as it took God to speak us into existence -- is truly something to behold, the revolving bridges, the giant LEDs, the dazzling illumination.

But is it truly magnificent, or have we simply become so accustomed to not being dazzled in this new century that all you need to win us over is a few megatons of steel and some flashing lights? Are we are so easily awed that we're oblivious to the fact that what we have here is really a lot of sizzle and not a lot of steak?

As I looked around at the awestruck expressions plastered to the faces of those around me as the band lowered its LED screens, cloaking itself with a mesh of screens that resembled a giant bug zapper during "Zooropa" and the fittingly titled "City of Blinding Lights," I couldn't help but be reminded of that scene from A Bug's Life, in which one winged creature pleads with another: "No! Hurry! No! Don't look at the light!" Inexplicably drawn to the glowing display, his counterpart responds intoxicatingly: "I can't help it. It's so beautiful." That, as you might recall, is immediately followed by the unmistakable sound of his demise, BZZZT!

I will give them this, though: there really wasn't a bad seat in the house. As advertised, the sight lines were mostly unobstructed. The only place in the stadium that might have been less desirable were the seats of those who happened to be seated behind the stage in the South Stands. It's not that you couldn't see. It's just that although Larry Mullen's drum riser rotated, and Bono and the other guys made a concerted effort to journey across the bridges to the outside track that circled the stage, where they played to the various sides of the stadium, for the most part, the outfit played facing the opposite direction.

But I'm just nitpicking here, really; you could lodge such a complaint with that sort of seating arrangement at any show. Most shows block that section off, actually. There really isn't an effective way to play in the round a full 360° -- well, unless the stage rotated constantly (talk about vertigo.) Fortunately, there was plenty else to distract those folks.

Which brings us to the visuals: Now maybe it's because I still have that epic Roger Waters Wall show at the Pepsi Center from this past November fresh in my memory -- and perhaps that has spoiled me for all subsequent arena rock experiences -- but for all of its pomp and circumstance, I was a bit underwhelmed by U2's much ballyhooed 360° Tour, particularly the visuals, some nods to previous outings.

In the PopMart-era, this sort of thing might've been considered ground-breaking, but by today's standards, the random images and sound bites laid over and interspersed with stream of consciousness-like text felt a little hackneyed. By now, we've seen it all before. A thousand times. And better. Not only from this band, but from other acts. In a much smaller context, even. Honestly, I was probably more arrested by Muse's presentation, and Madonna did a similar thing cloaking herself for a few songs with a wall of LEDs descended from the rafters.

Location Info


Sports Authority Field at Mile High

1701 Bryant St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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Russ Christiansen
Russ Christiansen

U2 is one of a handful of bands that hit perfection- in what i wanted a defining band of my generation to be -long ago, so i let them suspend there since the Elevation tour came to the Pepsi center.  Why?  Their material was getting more hit and miss and i felt they were still able to deliver their catalog live and take it to another level on stage.  When the Joshua Tree came out, i stood in line for the midnite record store release and we spun it all nite in our dorm room.  Never did that before, have not since.  That is a long ride.  Even this weekend, i felt compelled to leave the function I was at, stick my head out of my downtown hotel room with the hope of hearing a few notes or a phrase that might make some of that rushing back.  I couldnt hear anything, but saw the bank of lights in distance, and felt it anyway.  I wonder how many of us just hear the memory, want a show to just take us there regardless of of the notes being hit or missed.  I thought about taking my daughter to the show, but i knew it would only be for me to bridge a generation- hoping she caught the same feeling i did many years ago.  Instead she is heading off to Bonaroo in a couple weeks, where she can find her own U2.  My only hope is when she does, they are around when she gets old like her dad, have hours of great tunes that leave you wanting to catch an alternate set list, and can fill arenas when she watches here own graduate high school.   If i catch springsteen on a final go round, you can be sure as hell i'm not going to be there to pick apart what might be lacking, or dwell on what is missing.  It will be to recapture a lot of what they gave me, and to let them suspend there in that place.  to thank them.  bands like these feel like an old friend.


There was definitely some phasing issues when the wind kicked up, especially during the Fray's set, but I thought Bono's vocals sounded just fine, particularly when coupled with the Edge's harmonies. Now, I did notice that he did sing some parts in a lower register than the recorded versions and that his phrasing was slightly different -- but I wrote that off to the artistic license artists sometimes take when they've performed the same song about a bazillion times. He may have also skipped the "Memphis sky" modulation in "Pride," but again, where I was sitting, he sounded just fine to my ears.

Edgey McBono
Edgey McBono

 When a band relies more on theatrics and multi-media overload more than their music you know they've musically "jumped the shark"

Otto Targeted
Otto Targeted

 Closely listen to an Inception dvd made before the January 8th Tucson shooting, especially during the dialogue, "Do It."

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I had a really amazing time at Saturday Night's show, the crowd was amazing, and I got to hear every one of my favorite U2 songs that we all grew up with.  Invesco field was bumping with waves of amazing energy that night!

Michele B.
Michele B.

I am not sure what show you were at, but the fact that Bono couldn't hit one high note in ANY of their song was a HUGE problem for me. So much so that I'm starting to wonder is it Bono or the Edge we should be playing homage to all these years. A bunch of smoke and mirrors is all I saw. A band that needs a lot of special effects to cover up the fact the lead singer has lost the ability to sing his own songs. I have been a U2 fan since 1987, and this was so dissapointing I will never go to another show again. Sad to say that when I left during "Where the streets have no name", he sounded better a block away as I walked to the lite rail station. Do yourself a favor when you think you might want to lay down your hard earned money to see one of their show, donate it to a charity, both you and Bono would be happier.

Damien McCarron
Damien McCarron

Nice, very nice, looking for the holes in context.To judge the book by the cover after reading all the pages is perhaps the best measure of U2.

The moments of magic of an arena gig may stem in the fray before and after as a city comes to life on a Saturday night. For a moment or four we had a ship sail in and toot it's horn, we stood, stared and wondered what does it all mean and if there's a message to take into tomorrow.

We did that all the other times too.

U2 - I have a questionAmerica - Oh, tell me what it isU2 - That is the question

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