This Must Be Heaven: The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Presents The Music of U2

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra The Music of U2 March 13 signOk the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has one more night for their Music of U2 performances and it is tomorrow (March 14). GO SEE IT! Get your tickets right now (here) and GO!

I am starting to type this on my tiny iPhone during intermission so I can get this blog up as soon as I get home… because this is epic and you need to see U2’s music backed by an orchestra…

You might not know you need this but trust me, you do.  GO!  It doesn’t matter if you are not a huge fan… GO!  ok – if you hate them, maybe don’t go… Actually you know what? Go anyways because it might make you hear their music in a different light and maybe you will change your mind… I’m just saying this is beautiful freaking music, people.

This is U2’s music, arranged for a symphony, complete with singer, bass guitar, lead guitar, piano, and drooms (its a Larry thing). Our ESO, what an Orchestra…  I’m so incredibly proud of them, they are extraordinary.  And in the stunning Winspear Centre.

The trifecta of awesomeness.

The night began with that Spanish lesson that always seems off yet is also just so right. You know the one…


Hello hello! We are in a place called Vertigo. The ESO is on fire! And the band is pretty damn good… and the crowd is singing along… And we are off for one helova night.  This place called Vertigo is apparently a place somewhere between rock concert and symphony and I am dying here.  I must be dead, because this is what heaven sounds like to me (ok, that sounds like some kind of melodramatic pick up line… Whatevs.  U2 music is my happy place.. you should know this by now.)

I won’t go through every song they played (I snuck a photo of the set list during intermission if you are curious – ), but here are my highlights:

Bad.  Bad with a live, 60 plus piece orchestra. Bad. with strings. Bad. With a backdrop of lights and gold and velvet and balconies. Sigh. All the senses. All the feels.  I’ve written about this song before here and here so maybe you already know how important this song is to me. But tonight I had the epiphany that Bad is, in fact, my absolute favourite song of all time. Not just my favorite U2 song.  My favorite song… Ever.

This is big. This is really big for me… I like to tell myself that there are soooo many amazing brilliant emotional musically lyrically genius perfect U2 songs that it is impossible to choose just one. I mean With Or Without You is perfection. Tomorrow –  per-freakin-fection. But.

But. There is no other song that moves me so instantly, so deeply, and so completely than Bad. And tonight with Symphony, with strings, and bass, and horns, and… I. am. moved.  WOWY might be perfection but This Song is Transcendence.  Thank you, ESO and band, for this moment… this clarity of musical love.  You have no idea….

Also, Bad is apparently Edmonton’s favourite U2 song as well. Towards the end of the night, the singer asked the audience if there were any requests and Bad was the song that the most people (or the loudest people) shouted out. Followed by, yes, With or Without You.  Which they also played and here’s a tip.  If you go to see U2’s music played by an orchestra, close your eyes during this song… just do it… trust me…

The singer, Brody, I think, was fabulous by the way. Funny, entertaining, and got the audience a bit uninhibited. As much as I love rock symphony combos, like looooove, it is a weird sort of place to be. Is it a rock concert or is it a symphony?  Loud, abrasive, leather jackets and beer?  Or fine wine, high heels, pearls and golf claps… How does one behave in this strange juxtaposition of music genres? Do you sit or do you stand? Listen quietly or rock out?

Brody (please let that be his name… why oh why didn’t I keep the program that lists the names of the band members??? argh!) quickly and continuously had us singing and clapping in time.  For one song he had us do the phone flashlight thing, which is pretty beautiful in the gorgeous Winspear.

For Mysterious Ways he pulled us out of our seats in the first few notes and the music kept us up for the rest of the song.  By the end of the night we were singing a the top of our lungs and standing without beckoning.

Which reminds me, I think I should apologize to those around me for singing at the top of my lungs for most of the night… I am truly sorry you had to endure that…  I’m hoping you couldn’t really hear me…  It’s easier to hide one’s screechy off tone voice in a crowd of thousands but I couldn’t stop singing tonight.  The music took hold.

The music controls me… so I sang.  I am so in love with this music that I get lost in it.  I had to remind myself to focus not so much on just the vocals and rock band element that is as second nature to me as breathing (oops, melodramatic again…) but to open my ears to the bigger picture. The complete soundscape of 60-70 Edmonton Bloody Amazing Symphony Orchestra musicians playing my soundtrack.

This is why I say close your eyes during WOWOY. Close your eyes and experience all the sounds.  Move your focus from the gorgeous words that roll off your lips like the morning prayer we used to have to say in school. Stop singing along for just a moment. Its hard, I know.  These words are engrained and familiar and the melody so beautiful and easy to sing to.  But stop. and close your eyes and pull your attention to the violins, and the cellos, the flutes, the ensemble of all these instruments playing this song. Just listen.  You are welcome.

Speaking of U2 music being like breathing, did anyone else who went fully expect “Fashion, turn to left. Fashion. We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town
Beep-beep” during Mysterious Ways? Or “Hall-lay, hall-lay – luu – yah” during Walk On?  Anyone hoping just a little bit for Shine Like Stars during WOWY?  I might be U2-programmed… it’s possible…

Speaking of Walk On, I know there is some baggage with this song due to recent events or lack there of by Aung San Suu Kyi.  But this song is so gorgeous.  It really needs to come back live for U2 – turn it back into a protest song. Or as Brody, pointed out, this song meant so much to so many people after 9-11.  Let that be its legacy, and bring it back…

Also, In God’s Country… this song was made for an orchestra!  Who knew!? Seriously, it was brilliant!

It was so nice to see Kevin O’Connell from Global News come out and guest conduct for a song…

Ok – it’s late and much like the juxtaposition of rock symphony, my body has that rock concert full of energy, music in my veins juxtaposition with complete exhaustion and the exhaustion is winning out.  Time for bed.

So I’ll sign off by saying one more time – if you are in Edmonton – go to the show tomorrow!  If you are not in Edmonton and the Music of U2 ever reaches your symphony orchestra, GO!

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra The Music of U2 March 13 2018 Setlist

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