U2 deliver memorable night for Boston faithful

A review of U2 at the Somerville Theatre on March 11, 2009

, Editor-in-Chief

In what will surely go down as one the most memorable nights in Boston music history, U2 hit the hub for a very rare and intimate show at the Somerville Theatre. The band performed five songs and conducted a Q&A session with the intimate crowd of about 800 as part of an international radio broadcast that was also filmed for future use (presumably on U2.com).

The promo show was part of a media blitz by U2 to support their brand new album, No Line On The Horizon, which hit stores last week. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in the United States and 29 other countries. Safe to say, the biggest band in the world was rocking Davis Square last night (read that again…). The energy inside the theatre was electrifying. As if they needed any egging on, host and MTV veejay Sway took stage a few minutes before 9 pm. to amp the crowd even more.

Opening with the album’s lead single “Get On Your Boots,” the garage-fuzz rocker sounded much better live. With a little extra space in the front row, Bono urged the crowd to push forward, sparking a frenzied rush towards the front of the stage. “This is where it all began for us, Boston, Massachusetts,” Bono told the crowd before quipping about the city’s Irish population. The band then launched into another new tune, “Magnificent,” which delivers a very-classic U2 vibe, as a stream of lights lit up the back of the simple stage that was only adorned by a hanging U2 logo.

“Breathe” followed and proved to be the best of the band’s set of new material. Bono’s vocals were in fine shape and Edge delivered some great fretwork while bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. held down a tight rhythmic section. The energy in the crowd was tremendous as they sang-along to every song while it often felt like that band was going to blow the roof off the 95-year old theatre. Prior to “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”, Bono pointed out a fan who held up a vinyl copy of the band’s 4-song EP recorded at their 1981 Paradise Rock Club performance. The band and crowd were in full stride and the energy soared as Bono delivered a call and answer period, working the small venue as if it were a stadium with a true rock star swagger.

“Thanks for sticking with us through the years,” Bono told the adoring crowd before adding, “it only took us 30 years to figure this shit out.” With that, the band closed out their set with a blazing rendition of “Vertigo”. It was the end of the night’s liveĀ  performance (though everyone held out hope for more tunes later in the night) and after a quick break, U2 returned for question and answer session with the crowd.

The Q&A period was a special opportunity for a rare and candid look at the band. Attendees who won tickets to the event from several local radio stations (and a few from across the country) were asked to submit questions for host Sway to put straight to the band. Sitting on directors chairs on stage, U2 did not hold back, giving honest and often humorous answers to the questions that covered a wide of array of topics for each member.

Bono reminisced about a malfunction in the band’s lemon/spaceship during their 1997-8 Popmart tour when asked what was the band’s most memorable “Spinal Tap”-like moment. When it came to the most memorable fan on stage moment, Larry Mullen Jr. recalled the band’s infamous show at the Paradise when a woman attempted to handcuff her legs to Bono.

In a classic Boston moment, Sway mispronounced Haverhill when asking a fan question to the band. The crowd very quiche and loudly reprimanded him on the correct pronunciation, to which Adam Clayton joked “rough crowd” to which Bono replied, “We’re here to bring peace.”

The Edge was asked when he felt an album was complete, to which he replied, “U2 albums are never really complete… it just gets released”. It was an interesting prelude to one of the most intriguing discussions of the night when Edge and Bono commented on the possibility of re-recording the bands older releases. Recalling the band’s tight budget at the times, Bono remarked that some of the band’s earlier albums – notably Boy – were rushed and contain “beautiful songs that feel unfinished.”

Other questions proposed to the band included what song from another artist did Bono wish he wrote (Leonard Cohen’s “Halleljuiah” – he sang a quick verse after the crowd insisted on it), what was Edge’s favorite song to play live (“Where The Streets Have No Name”), who in music is Larry most in awe of (“Bono… shit you not”), has Sting called Edge after his Late Show Top Ten remark (he laughed, then proclaimed his love for The Police frontman with more humor), what would Adam do in another career (photographer), what advice would Larry give to young bands (which sparked probably the most thoughtful response of the night as he stressed the importance of songs and finding a group that the members disagree and argue while still keeping a democracy), and even when Bono lost his virginity (he laughed off the question before quoting Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”).

During the commercial breaks, the band remained very engaged with the crowd. Bono informed the crowd it was Clayton’s birthday in a few days, sparking a “Happy Birthday” sing-along. Most of the off-air discussion centered around the band’s love for Boston. “It’s not a regular music gig, it’s a sociological experiment,” Bono told Sway when asked about what made Boston so different from the others. He joked about the Boston Irish, survey the crowd to see if anyone was at their first show at the Paradise (a couple of folks stood up) and gave praise to Senator Ted Kennedy.

After the Q&A session came to a close and the broadcast ended, Bono thanked the crowd for all their support and the band waved goodbye. The crowd begged for more, chanting “one more song” feverishly but to no avail. Though the gig was billed as such, it was surprising and a tad disappointing that they did not return to perform a few more songs for the faithful crowd considering they were all set-up. That being said, it’s safe to say everyone left Davis Square more than pleased to catch the band in such an intimate setting.

They’ll be back in September, rocking what is supposed to be a very innovative stadium show at Gillette Stadium. The show will be far different from last night, but the beauty of these Iconic Irish rockers is that they can rock any place with the same intensity, whether it is a stadium of 70,000 screaming fans, a rooftop in London or even a small historic theater in Davis Square.

Leave a Reply