U2 - Vertigo Tour 11/5
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Shot from section 201's (front view) by Pearl, or 223L's (rear view) by Annie and myself.

The show was AMAZING. Jer has been a U2 fan since forever and this was the best one he's seen.

MGM Grand Arena is actually quite large, seating 19,000, but it is setup for boxing, which means it is a very compact arena for 19,000: a tight square with minimal space and a relatively small floor compared to basketball arenas such as Oakland Arena or Staples Center. The result was that even in the "upper" 200 sections, we still felt like we were very close to the stage. Seated in the rear 223L's we were just a bit off-center from the rear view, which meant we still had an excellent view of all of the graphics that U2 was using, just in reverse. =)

Freakin' crazy. Left for Vegas at 6am on Saturday morning, stopped in the little town of Baker for a quick hike on the way up, checked in to Bally's, showered, gambled for 45 minutes until my friend Pearl and her husband Jerimy showed up and checked in, then gambled some more til we wandered over to Rio for their seafood buffet. Mostly dorked around with video poker, 'cause we were teaching my friend Annie some more details on the basics of poker...

As we wandered over to Rio Seafood Buffet, we saw the score for the ugly nasty disgusting diaster that was UCLA vs. Arizona that was still in progress. :( Got into the buffet. My goodness. Raw oysters, lobster tails, crab legs, shrimp, sushi and sashimi (toro, ahi, whitefish, saba), plus the other usual buffet trappings such as prime rib, fried udon, and a large dessert selection. Jerimy's a skinny guy about my height who somehow eats like a monster-- he had 7 plates of food. We were amazed.

Off to MGM Grand for the show. Pearl and Jerimy are up in front, hence the amazing pictures. The four of us are in the back, but MGM Grand is such a small place, we're less than 200' from the stage, maybe even closer. It's freakin' amazing. The arena actually holds 19,000+ as it's configured for U2, but it felt much smaller than Staples Center which is similar in capacity.

U2 opens with City of Blinding Lights and the whole crowd cranks it up a notch beyond anything we've had for our previous shows in Los Angeles. Sophia, Pearl, Jerimy, and I have U2 bleeding from our thoughts at times like this, while Annie's sort of a casual fan. Well, was. This show pushed her over the edge. Nice. :D We get Until The End Of The World, which hasn't been played in a while, then Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, which is so incredibly beautiful live this time... *sigh* Bono dedicates Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own to his father, who always asked him to take his "fscking sunglasses" off. I think I've heard that line before at a previous concert, but it's a nice touch. All four of us have arms linked and are swaying as one-- we're completely absorbed by the show. Sunday Bloody Sunday goes through the usual political speech, but the audience is really, really into it for SBS.

I'm not the biggest fan of Bullet The Blue Sky as it's recorded, but live, just like everything else U2 (except maybe Vertigo-- bleh!) it's pretty damned good. Bono singing Miss Sarajevo without Pavoratti just isn't the same deep operatic rumble, but my friends loved it. We get the stick figure man walking on the light display, but sadly, no belly dancer or pumping heart this time around. The flags of the world for Where The Streets Have No Name are as pretty as ever, and the "COEXIST" lightwork is new-- it's spelled with the star of david replacing the X, a crescent replacing the C, a cross for the T, etc. Nice touch. (Annie's camera batteries die shortly thereafter. That's the one problem with the Canon SD-series cameras... battery life blows...)

Mary J. Blige for One is a huge surprise to us... then U2 goes off the stage and the stage lights stay on, so the crowd starts stomping our feet, clapping, and cheering for an encore. STOMP STOMP STOMP!! We're sitting on stands in the back rather than a structural part of the building, so we can FEEL the whole set of stands trembling and shaking. Sophia's got a sore throat and all this screaming can't possibly be helping, but we don't care! Zoo Station is superb, much better than it was at Oakland a few days later, while the graphics for The Fly seem to have been updated since 1st leg in April. I don't know what it is about The Fly, but that song always has us dancing and flying around. It's great!! They end the encore with With Or Without You, which is beautiful in that smooth harmony that U2 can so smoothly shift gears into. *sniff*

Wait... the overhead blue circular lights have descended from the ceiling now... the band's off the stage... they've designed 3rd leg for a two-encore setup but we don't know it yet... ohhhhhhhh myyyyyyyy goooddddnnnnneeeessss we're getting a 2nd encore. They celebrate the birthday of their tour manager on stage and he blows out a cake, which lends a very unique touch to this show. We're convinced this is one of the most awesome U2 shows ever at this point. So much personality...

All Because Of You is like most of the stuff on their new album-- the album itself is okay, but the style of the songs lends itself very well to live performances where the energy seems to translate a little better to the audience. Bono starts mentioning something about having lost a little bit of the falsetto at last night's performance in Vegas, so he brings on Brandon Flowers from The Killers to help with In A Little While. We've been bitching that all the US shows have been getting shafted with second-rate opening acts like Kings of Leon, Damian Marley, Institute, etc, while the European shows have been getting Snow Patrol, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Doves, the Bravery, etc. Well crap, we're here on the deprived West Coast, and we're getting Brandon Flowers from The Killers! SWEET!!!!! :D Can this get any better?!?

Instead of calming us down with How Long/'40' as U2 often ends with, we get a much better ending... Bad. I've heard '40' too many times at the end of a U2 concert and it winds the energy waaaay down, which may be a good thing, but it's pretty blah given how hyped up everyone is during the concert. Ending with Bad... just... kicked... *ss...!!!!!!!!!

Sophia, Annie, Bill, and I were in the back... four seats next to each other meant we could dance around and sway to the music like the lunatics we are. =D Pearl and Jer had the pair of seats in front, and they had an absolutely amazing view. If only floor tickets had been in reach... sigh...

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