U2 360° at the Rose Bowl

 

Let’s just say it first up. The U2 360° at the Rose Bowl, all the glitterati aside, is far from the best live DVD release by this band in what is by now, a fairly large live discography of theirs. Filmed in-front of an audience of 97,000 in California, it was first broadcast via YouTube late 2009, before being packaged into a live release in the summer of the following year. The setlist was one of the band’s more well rounded ones with tracks such as The Unforgettable Fire and Ultraviolet (Light My Way) making deserved comebacks after lengthy intervals of time. Couple that with the old timers (and classics) in OneWith or Without YouSunday Bloody Sunday and the newer No Line on the Horizon and you have a fairly eclectic mix from all of their studio albums. I also liked MLK being given a go, always enjoyed that track live.

 

Too bad though that the quality falls apart for us home viewers, and I’m pretty sure what you get on the DVD is a pretty diluted experience to what I remember catching on YouTube when it was played live, or better yet, what any one of the 97k concert-goers saw and heard that autumn night.

 

 

The U2 360° tours fixate on the band performing on-board a revolving four-legged space ship, nicknamed ‘The Claw’. The structure itself is a grandiose beast, and the coloured illuminations reflected off the stage as the songs play out contribute to the surreal experience of it all. Especially the neon on the crowd, which seems to work well with heavier efforts like No Line on the Horizon at #8. Trouble is, this visual experience is best seen if you were at the concert itself. Now that might seem obvious, but the DVD takes it too far, filmed “as seen from the eyes of a space ship”, apparently. In fact, you are transported into one such ship right before Ultraviolet kicks off, as the concert and the audience “pause” to see the main babyface character from the title screen experience the arena from his orb – this is absolutely fictional and downright unnecessary. One a couple of songs earlier did it quite well, having a recorded speech from Desmond Tutu on the revolving screen above the audience. And thumbs up to Commander Frank De Winne from the International Space Station showing up on there too, preceding Unknown Caller, but I reiterate: any fluff that pauses and resumes a live concert at will should ideally be considered a no-no. Directors, producers and editors, take note.

 

That’s not the end of it. Several other issues confront this recording as well. Breathe, the opener is completely chopped off the main concert on the DVD, instead making itself available as a bonus track. Us sitting at home are forced to thus delude ourselves by watching #2, Get on Your Boots as the supposed opener to this setlist. Now this is absolutely epic fail in my book and whoever came up with this idea should never be involved in live productions again. How on God’s green earth it made sense not to show viewers footage of the band entering the gigantic stage and playing out the opening riffs, and hearing the enthusiastic crowd cheering is beyond me.

 

Then there are a multitude of issues with the camera pans, angles and zooms from start to finish; arising from the shooting cutting from one band member to another REALLY  fast. Now jump cuts and shaky footage are great ideas if they are used sparingly, should the director feel the need to express and elevate particular visual highlights in the band’s performance. But when not a single shot lasts more than three seconds and come interluded with jarring pans in them, you get a mess. We have split screens. Super imposed shots. Sudden jerks between Bono’s head to Larry Mullen’s shoes. These things probably work out in a five minuter music video. Across a two hour concert? Not a chance in hell. Can’t blame the average viewer if he wishes he could physically grab hold of the camera and hold it in place for a short while, it’s really that bad.

 

Another visual treat music fans enjoy is the band bidding the crowd farewell post their performance. Which should have been the minutes after the final track on the setlist for the evening – Moment of Surrender, arguably the song’s best live version by far. Unfortunately, instead of watching the four piece bow and take their leave off stage after the song, we are transported back into the crappy space ship and the credits roll. It gets to the point of hilarity by then, really.

 

SETLIST:
#1. Breathe
#2. Get on Your Boots
#3. Magnificent
#4. Mysterious Ways
#5. Beautiful Day
#6. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
#7. Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
#8. No Line on the Horizon
#9. Elevation
#10. In a Little While
#11. Unknown Caller
#12. Until the End of the World
#13. The Unforgettable Fire
#14. City of Blinding Lights
#15. Vertigo
#16. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
#17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
#18. MLK
#19. Walk On
First Encore:
#20. One
#21. Amazing Grace/Where the Streets Have No Name
Second Encore:
#22. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
#23. With or Without You
#24. Moment of Surrender

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
June 3, 2010

 

LENGTH:
131:00 (DVD)

 

 

Make no mistake. None of the numerous shenanigans accompanying this live release are the band’s fault. Yes, Bono’s voice isn’t what it used to be, but that ain’t the reason why you’d want to give this one a miss. Unless you’re prepared to pop it in a player and listen to it from the next room, I suppose that might just about work. It’s all about the music eventually, and especially considering that the crowd volume is set to an astonishingly low level as well, for a figure of close to a hundred thousand. Zero marks to the production and editing crew for ruining what could have been such a classy release. Two stars thanks solely to the band’s efforts who likely had no idea and little control over how they were going to be recorded.

 

 

 

 

One Response

  1. […] U2 360° Tour turned out to be a major source of income for the band in the era of ever declining record […]

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