U2 return to Chicago with a two-night run of their eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour.

It was just last summer that the foursome from Dublin were in town as part of their 30th-anniversary celebrations for The Joshua Tree. However, the Chicago crowd welcomed them back with open arms for the follow up to their 2015 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour. 

In a similar format to its 2015 predecessor, this show sees them utilize the full expanse of the arena floor with the use of a large interactive screen which split the United Center’s General Admission area in two. This screen adds a whole different level to the performance, helping engage the audience, even before the band took to the stage thanks to content on the screen itself and the app they have created to interact with it. Throughout the show, the foursome can be seen both on and actually within this huge screen, interacting with the images that were being projected on both sides. 

Due to some technical difficulties, the show started an hour later than was slated, but the audience didn’t seem to hold this against them as they waited in anticipation for them to come out on to the stage. Within seconds of the music starting, any thoughts of a delay were well behind them as the band soldiered on through a two-plus hour 24-song set.

As if spanning the length of the United Center wasn’t enough, the show was also split between the main stage and the smaller B stage at the opposite end of the floor.  The band also spread out to perform “Pride”, with The Edge and Adam Clayton manning platforms on opposite sides of the United Center within the audience.

If you want to see a show done right, go see U2! After all these years performing, they are like a well-oiled machine. Even when Bono lost his footing when he was stepping out of the big screen, causing him to fall on to his back on the stage, ever the professional he kept on singing without missing a single note.  His handling of this was so impressive that most of the arena seemed unaware the incident even happened and the ones who did notice would be forgiven for thinking it was a choreographed part of the show!  Bono personifies everything you would want in a Rock and roll frontman with the added extra of having a genuine social conscience. We’ve all heard many of the songs on numerous occasions over the years on the radio, but hearing him live gives you a whole new appreciation for the power of his voice. You also get to experience him using that charisma (of which he has an abundance) to excite the crowd, whilst taking the opportunity to shed light on some of the world’s injustices with words of hope, peace, and love. 

Social commentary is an area where the band has always excelled and on this tour, they take the opportunity to highlight some of the more worrying events going on in our current turbulent times.  Notably, footage of the White Power marches that have taken place in the US were contrasted with subsequent images and video of Martin Luther King and the Women’s marches during “Staring at the Sun”.  What perhaps sets U2 slightly apart from other acts who comment on current events or lend their support to social or political causes is that it really forms part of the band’s DNA.  Dating back to the troubles in Northern Ireland they have never shied away from making their feelings known about current events or highlighting injustice and it has, indeed, provided fuel for many of their songs.  You can also be guaranteed that if the band are drawing attention to a situation or supporting a particular cause that they will be able to speak to why that is the case as eloquently as any politician or reporter.  This adds a real weight to their message and undoubtedly influences the hearts and minds of fans who see and hear this commentary against a background of the music they love.

As much as the spotlight is very much on the main man throughout the night, as he said himself, he’s a quarter of a musician without The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., all of whom produced an amazingly tight performance and that huge U2 sound, all the while making it look completely effortless. All of this, while moving from one end of the arena and back, perfectly in sync with the large interactive screen. Even Larry and his various drumkits were able to partake in the stage maneuvers. 

If you’ve ever seen a U2 show before, you know what you are going to get – an incredible, 110% performance, normally utilizing technology and a large stage to help as much as the audience as possible feel close to the band. But regardless of how many times you’ve seen them, you can’t help but be impressed by the showmanship and precision with which they execute their shows. Whilst some were heard feeling a little disgruntled at the lack of “With Or Without You,” or “Where The Streets Have No Name,” The Joshua Tree songs were all part of last year’s celebrations. This tour is moving on to give way to songs from the album Songs of Experience, such as “Love Is All We Have Left,” “13 (There Is A Light)” and “Get Out Of Your Own Way.” However, whilst there may have been a good portion of the setlist from the latest album, they still made sure to include sure crowd-pleasers such as “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” “Elevation,” “Vertigo” and, of course, “One.” 

The North American leg of the tour comes to a conclusion on July 3 in Uncasville, CT, with many of the dates already sold out. This isn’t just going to see some live music. This is an immersive experience that you need to witness at least once in your lifetime (but preferably on several occasions).

U2
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United Center
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Event Date: 22-MAY-2018

About The Author

Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!

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