On the largest stage in concert history, a band with one of the smallest names captivated an ecstatic Miami crowd in the massive Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday night. It was an experience most had waited more than a year for.
U2 singer Bono addressed the original show’s postponement (due to his back surgery), thanking the crowd for its patience. He also professed the band’s love for Miami, slyly citing the area as a crossroads for North America, South America and Ireland. The Irish are a lot like the Latins, he said, adding with a grin, “They just can’t dance.”
The rock band that formed in Dublin back in 1976 has become so much more. Through its songs of hope, empathy, compassion and honor, U2 crosses all borders and and spans generations. Underneath their rock star shell, they are human-potential emissaries: a voice for those who go unheard and an engaging motivator, emboldening those with a voice to speak louder.
Along with all that, they rock.
The set list for the two-hour-plus musical triumph was brimming with show-stoppers and stadium-worthy anthems. “Even Better Than the Real Thing” scorched as an opener, “Elevation” instigated joyous hysteria while “Where the Streets Have No Name” gave me goose bumps. That distinctive guitar intro, a simple, repetitive — yet thrilling — chord progression, always does me in.
Compared to the Tampa stop along this same “U2 360 Tour” in 2009, the band played less from its latest studio album, “No Line on the Horizon,” and more from 1991’s “Achtung Baby,” leading off the show with four in a row from the latter. The Miami crowd also got “I Will Follow” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).”
Before the final song, “Moment of Surrender,” Bono offered a tribute to the recently departed tenor sax virtuoso Clarence Clemons, whose family and friends were in the audience.
This massive gathering was driven by a desire for much more than simply watching a popular band play some good tunes. The investment in dollars (tickets that ranged up to $200, parking, sustenance) and time (the traffic before and after — ugh) would preclude the casual concertgoer from bothering.
Whether they consciously considered it or not, these fans came together to be part of and moved by an invigorating monumental event. That’s what a ticket to a U2 concert grants you.
Chris Bradshaw is a Bonita Springs-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He’s covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold out stadium and everything in between.