LIVE: It’s Good to See the Spectacle Back in Rock: U2’s Opening Night at The Forum (5/26/15)

“No city has been kinder to us.”
LIVE: It’s Good to See the Spectacle Back in Rock: U2’s Opening Night at The Forum (5/26/15)

“No city has been kinder to us.”

Words: Bailey Pennick

May 27, 2015

U2 / photo by Rozette Diaz Rago

May 26, 2015
The Forum
Los Angeles, California

There’s got to be something special that brings fans out by the thousands for nearly forty years. What makes a legacy show worth the price of admission? Bruce Springsteen has his fiery sermons and Paul McCartney, well, is Paul McCartney, but what about U2? They’re one of the most polarizing groups out there—especially after the strange and invasive rollout of 2014’s Songs of Innocence—but U2’s longevity is no mistake thanks to its commitment to awe-inspiring innovation.

While the Irish band’s commitment to modernism started when The Edge first manipulated his Gibson Explorer’s sound, its full power was felt last night at The Forum. Not one for conventional stage plots (remember the lemon?), the venue was set up for U2 with two stages and a lengthy runway between them for Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. to run up and down.

The Edge / photo by Rozette Diaz Rago

The Edge / photo by Rozette Diaz Rago

Beyond the ample edges to see the band up close (and watch for falling members), this 2015 Innocence + Experience Tour featured a massive screen that acted more like a digital diorama for the band to interact with and travel through, as opposed to a screensaver backdrop. With visuals that evoked personal memories for the group, U2 took its audience on a multi-sensory journey that brought out the best elements in all of the songs that they played, even the weakest songs from Songs of Innocence.

However, the greatest moments of the night came when U2 turned its biggest hits on their heads, including a gorgeous, slowed down “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” a mostly spoken version of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” and a sing-along of “Sweetest Thing” featuring a Bono impersonator from a U2 cover band aptly named Hollywood U2. “Only in America!” Bono shouted playfully. It was impressive how relaxed and intimate the night felt, considering what a massive production it was.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour show, the confidence and ease with which the foursome flew through songs off of their massive discography (along with snippets of cover songs) was felt, but it was, surprisingly, never perceived as cocky or arrogant. Bono thanked the crowd profusely several times, remembering that Los Angeles has always accepted the band with open arms. By the time the one-two finale punch of “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “One” came around, The Forum’s voices were loud and our hearts were open. FL

Set List

[Set 1]
“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”
“The Electric Co.”
(“I Can See for Miles” snippet)
(“Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?” snippet)
“I Will Follow”
“Iris (Hold Me Close)”
“Cedarwood Road”
“Song for Someone”
“Sunday Bloody Sunday”
“Raised by Wolves”
“Until the End of the World”

Johnny Cash, “The Wanderer” interlude

[Set 2]
“Even Better Than the Real Thing”
“Mysterious Ways”
(“Burning Down the House” snippet, “Young Americans” snippet)
“California (There Is No End to Love)”
(“God Only Knows” snippet)
“Sweetest Thing”
“Every Breaking Wave” (acoustic)
“Bullet the Blue Sky”
“Pride (In the Name of Love)”
(“The Hands That Built America [Theme from Gangs of New York]” snippet)
“Beautiful Day”
“With or Without You”
(“I Remember You” snippet)

“City of Blinding Lights”
“Where the Streets Have No Name”
(“Mother and Child Reunion” snippet)