Review: U2 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, 11/1/05 

I was fortunate enough to have a floor ticket for this show. I arrived at the Staples Center at around 9 am and brought a copy of Silverman's elliptic curves book to pass the time. I managed to get a spot in the second row of people just outside the ramp (the main stage sits inside a oval-shaped ramp).

Opening act was Damian Marley, one of Bob's progeny. His band featured a couple of stiff backup singers/dancers and some guy who waved around a Rastafarian flag the entire set. Wonder what his salary is. His material is basically reggae with an urban/rap edge to the lyrics. Not too shabby, though his covers of "Exodus" and "Could You Be Loved" were the best items in the set.

U2's setlist was fairly standard -- the notable inclusions were Out Of Control (more on that later) and an acoustic set of The First Time, Stuck In A Moment and Fast Cars.

By way of introducing "Miracle Drug", Bono told the crowd that Edge arrived in Dublin in a spaceship from the future. I bet Edge never tires of hearing that bit.

The guy standing next to me was attending his first U2 show and lost his father and sister in the past year; he was breaking down when the band played "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own".

It happened to be Larry Mullen's birthday that day; at one point the band came out wearing "The Larry Mullen Band" t-shirts, a reference to the band's origins, when Larry posted a note on a high school bulletin board.

For whatever reason, Bono really raised the audience participation factor in this concert. He pulled up a ~8-10 year old girl to start off the "no more" chorus of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Some lady inside the oval was holding up a sign that said "Professor For Hire". Bono eventually noticed the sign, and asked her, "what do you mean by that?" She gave Bono a verbal version of her CV and a book. Bono then said something to the effect of "great, I get the books, Larry gets the girls and Adam has the large penis". Only now do I realize what I should have done; I should have held up a sign saying "I'm a prof too -- so what?" and tossed Bono the book I was reading. Sigh.

I was standing behind four girls who play in a band. Turns out they play for the somewhat well-known U2 cover band Exit, though I didn't know it at the time. (To their credit, they have been working on original material for a while now.) One of the girls actually recognized me from the show we mutually attended in Dublin. Fans who follow their favorite band around the globe are creepy.

Anyway, they brought a couple signs. One said "It pays to advertise" and another said "The girls play rock and roll -- bass, guitar, drums, singer". The signs they brought in to the arena were pretty big, and one of the security guards told them they'd be confiscated if they brought them out, so they had to make a couple smaller signs during the downtime.

Towards the end of U2's main set, Bono noticed their signs and asked them, "What do you want to play?" There was some back and forth; I thought that either they were being indecisive or that they couldn't hear each other. Eventually one of the stage crew said "we'll get back to you." I thought they missed their chance there.

After the acoustic set in the encore, the crew pulled the girls up on stage. U2 gave them their instruments. The singer laughed nervously into Bono's mike, and then the girls ripped into Out Of Control. Edge and Bono sat on the drum stage for half the song, then joined in later. The LA Times has an article about the event here; apparently some music execs took notice. The crowd loved it, U2 loved it, and Exit caught the attention of some industry contacts. Three out of three isn't too bad.

A review of the second show will be posted soon.


Good review.

wow, that's awesome!

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