Over 80 days ago, on May 12, 2017, U2 set out on a beautiful musical journey that would captivate their audiences with a 30-year-old album. I was lucky enough to start my own musical journey with them that day for a total of 5 shows, just now finishing in Brussels on August 1, 2017, on what would have been the final show (until overwhelming demand for this tour and unquenchable thirst for these songs led to a third leg this fall).
Brussels. I have to say, I was wondering as the day progressed, whether Brussels might be a tame show. A subdued finale. Usually the U2 online community are quite active in days leading up to a show – who’s going, when is GA starting and where? Any meet-ups etc.? And while there was a bit of this, it was relatively quiet in comparison with the other shows. Even the GA line seemed to only start one day in advance, rather than the 3 days that all others have started, and without much discussion. Sitting in the stadium on show day, the crowd was calm, contained while waiting for U2 – even through Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds’ set… So, I thought, well ok, this might have a different energy and that’s ok.
Then this guy right here started the wave in between Noel’s and U2’s sets and the crowd went mad – best wave I’ve ever been a part of. People actually stood up and woo-ed while waving, rather than just the arms as I’ve seen in some places. We clapped in congratulations each time we completed a round and continued the rounds for quite a while. Then random bouts of clapping would erupt slowly and build up in speed, taking on the whole audience… There was never anything to worry about concerning energy. What was I thinking, Europeans are well known for their energetic audience-ness. This is football culture after all, these guys know how to do stadium energy!
Speaking of the stadium, the stage was set on the long side of the stadium rather than the typical goalie side. This gave an intriguing feeling of being closer to the stage. And yet not 😀 soooo many people on the floor!
This stadium, by the way, in addition to setting up the stage in this unique position, is just a strange stadium to begin with. For starters, there were no built in public washrooms… only rows of port–a-potties and open-air urinals and staff standing around with hand sanitizers… Usually I am open to new experiences and customs, but, this seems like a huge oversight in design… How can you not have plumbing and running water for tens of thousands of people…? I’m not sure hand sanitizer is that sanitary with this number of people….
The stadium also had cement and glass dividers between sections, which meant partially obstructed views throughout, some worse than others, and razor wire blockades separating the seats from the floor.
The glass dividers slowed down the passing of Omaima’s flag during Miss Sarajevo, and resulted in the flag being turned sideways as fans struggled to pass it over the barriers, which are taller than standing height.
The band seemed pretty excited and emotional about the end of the leg along with us. Even Larry walked to the edge of the stage twice to hand out his drumsticks (dammit, why wasn’t I on the floor so I could be the lucky recipient? :D)
This has been such a massively successful tour and it’s no surprise. The Joshua Tree is such a significant album for so many people. It taught a lot of us about social awareness, it spoke to the times, and its just damn fine music. Music that U2 said they wanted to tour because sure the album is celebrating 30 years, but more because it seems so relevant again. And it does. These songs took on new life and millions of us embraced this tour. It was the first time some of the songs have been played live, and the first time in a long time other songs were played.
It is fascinating to see how some songs become unexpected show-stoppers and fan favorites. Bono’s Shadowman deliverance of Exit just blows my mind every time. Every time.
I love the U2 family. I met a few people in Dublin in 2015 and have been chatting with them and so many other fans on various U2 FB groups since then. I’ve had the chance to meet up in person with some of these new friends during this tour. This community means the world to me. I can’t help but wonder if other fandoms are this awesome. I’m not sure it’s possible 😀
There’s an Art & Design Atomium Museum near the stadium. This is their sign…
Seems like a fine and appropriate greeting to Adam Clayton 😀
I met Sam and Joshua the Bear for the first time at the Vancouver opening night along the GA line. Joshua has since been to every single show on this tour with Sam or a number of guardians who pass him along to each other to take to the next show. He travels with a book for U2 fans to sign for the family of a U2 fan who passed away earlier in the year. I lost Sam and Joshua in the crowd at Vancouver and never got to sign the book that day. I’ve been following his journey on social media and saw them both again at the fan meet up in Dublin, but no book. Then, out of nowhere, after the show in Brussels, seconds before I was about to leave my friend at her hotel and return to mine for the night, Sam and Joshua walk by… with the book. This particular musical journey has come full circle.
And yet – Damn this tour withdrawal…. I miss my boys and this family already… When’s the next tour???
For more photos from this show and others, check out the Gallery.