In this series we will be regularly interviewing fans during the tour to ask them about their personal experiences. Today we have an interview with BelgianBono, who attended the 1st and 2nd Antwerp shows, among others.
"I just tried to sit back and enjoy the whole show, let the music sink in, live the moment because it was my last concert"
U2 were back in your home country for the first time since 360, how did these shows compare to the shows you visited in Amsterdam a month ago?
I’ll start with the good part: I think the overall performance of the whole band, including Bono’s singing, was a few % better than in Amsterdam. Especially Amsterdam2 had quite some mistakes and Bono really struggled. BUT it still lacked some “magic”. It’s strange, I can’t point it out, cause they were both very good shows, above average 7 or 8 out of 10, but it lacked that feeling you sometimes have, watching U2, like “This is the best place in the world to be right now”. Could be the basic setlists, but more likely the atmosphere. Belgians are more reserved, keep a distance, while the Dutch can go totally banana during concerts and football (or used to, hah). Antwerp 1 started off really powerful, the energy during Vertigo and I Will Follow was crazy, but it went down during the songs of innocence and only went up again with Streets… The One-singalong kinda failed. Antwerp II was slightly better, but still mostly during the hits. So, I’ll just cut to the chase and say it: Dutch audiences are better than ours. And you have no idea how much it hurts to admit that for me. I guess it’s actually the whole experience. Ziggo Dome had a lot of space to queue, excellent accommodation, stage fitted perfectly while Sportpaleis was a bit too big, no traffic jams or parking problems, really friendly security guys who handled everything perfectly, everything was cheaper (lockers, food, toilet…) so yeah, maybe that’s why people come in the arena a bit frustrated or not in the mood in Belgium while Dutchies have no worries and can just enjoy themselves? Don’t know really.
Conclusion: good shows, what you expect from U2, but nothing special or magic.
(I’ll get more cheerful in the other questions I promise )
Whereabouts were you situated in the arena? Was it a good spot to enjoy the show from?
First night I had GA tickets. Unfortunately my friend had to work that day AND Antwerp is world famous for their traffic jams, so I could only enter around 19h. Still managed to squeeze ourselves about 5m from the corner of the catwalk with the e-stage, so not that bad at all. The thing I’ve learned by now in GA though is, you’ll depend on the people around you. I saw a guy a few meters away from me just jumping, screaming, grabbing everyone around him and shouting “They’re here! They’re finally here!” (well, in Dutch of course). So I thought “I wanna be with that guy!”. But kinda lost track of him, you know, there’s also a blond leprechaun to watch, so ended up with a bunch of drunk Walloons who only knew Sunday Bloody Sunday (!) (Seriously, Streets started and they were like “Qu’est-ce qui ce passe – what’s happening?”) and shouting all the time. During EBW and October, slow songs, they went “Alleeezzz, Alleeezzz!!!”… So that was a downer. Anyway, moved around a bit and tried to ignore it, but unfortunately I must say GA can be totally fucked up because of the people around you.
Second night was a lot better! Seats in the 4th row of the 2nd ring, at the middle of the screen, so very good view of, well, everything! Also the sound was excellent (surprising in Sportpaleis) so I just tried to sit back and enjoy the whole show, let the music sink in, live the moment because it was my last concert. And the band was in great shape, so that was no problem at all. I can really advice people to just get some seats for these shows. Sound is better, you’ll get a view of everything that’s going on, while in GA you’ll have some really brilliant moments that you can’t have in the seats, but also some where you’ll miss a lot.
What is the best part of the #U2ieTour setlist?
Cliché I guess, but the “e-stage songs”. The first 10 are really solid and you’ll be blown away the first time(s), but you can tell the band is getting more and more “Numb” to them… Playing them more like a machine, you know? Not that strange if you’ve played the same songs in the same order for so many times now… When they come out of the videowalls and Bono pulls out a girl from the audience during MW, the atmosphere changes. The band loosens up and really connects with the crowd. And that’s one of the things that make this band special: interaction and passion. How often do you see a band just playing their songs, saying hello and goodbye and leave? Ok, it’s often the same gesture, a girl to dance and film and a guy to play guitar, but how effin’ great is it to give those people a moment they’ll never ever forget? Plus every crowd just goes crazy during these moments and often feels like they’re the ones on stage themselves. No them, only us.
Furthermore the band seems to enjoy these moments to the max themselves Bono learning Adam or Edge how to kneel still makes them laugh, Edge trying to be an oldschool guitar hero during Elevation, Bono with that silly schmuck on his face just because he can play The Sweetest Thing on piano, Larry who just… Smiles! Go figure.
These lads have been together so long they could recognize each other’s farts for miles away, but still have fun on stage! I’d like to find a job that fulfills me with the same joy for so long ;-)
And then I haven’t even talked about the rarities they pull there… I’ve been lucky enough to dance my ass off on Magnificent, shout out every word of Two Hearts Beat As One with Remy… I can’t imagine the lucky feeling others had during Zoo Station, The Crystal Ballroom, Volcano, California, Spanish Eyes, Lucifer’s Hands, Stuck In A Moment… I wish everyone here the same privilege at least once.
There weren't any major surprises in Antwerp, did this disappoint you or were your expectations not that high?
You’ll always hope for a rarity as a die-hard fan of course, but it was clear it would’ve been a longshot. So I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, as you still get to hear amazing songs that many other artists only can dream of. But hey, “Belgian Eyes”, “All I Want Is Beer” or “With or Without Ben” wouldn’t have hurt anyone.
Finally, the two shows in Antwerp were your last shows of the tour (so far), what would you say is your highlight of the five shows you have visited?
I’ll have to say Amsterdam IV as a whole! Amsterdam 1 had the thrill of being my first this tour and seeing Bono and the band from this close for the first time ever, but IV had the magic I described in the first question. I’ve had the feeling they could drop a bomb on the place and everybody would die in the happiest way a person possibly can. And it felt like everyone there had the same feeling. Nothing could ruin those moments on the 13th of September in the Ziggo Dome. I’m actually pretty sure, cause when I ran into Remy, Sergio, Kirsten, Joyce, Jana… after the show, they had that very same aura around them, the same glow and warmth in their eyes that I felt inside myself. I can’t completely tell what it is, but I’m sure everyone out here knows what I mean. The U2-feeling. That’s why we always come back, after every setlist-complaint, mediocre new single, we’ll always be with the lads to make it special. Was it Bono’s excellent singing that night? The Edge on fire with punkrock from Mars? Adam’s soaring bass? Larry’s godly blessed drumming? An unleashed Dutch crowd? The funky dance remix of Magnificent? The long awaited Bad-40 combo? Probably all of them, maybe not one of them. The thing is, I’m an introvert. And to go totally nuts or to meet the faces behind the nicknames freaks me out and scares me. But I do know that suddenly I stood there, completely empty and overwhelmed, like a train ran over me. Twice. Stranger in a strange land, far from home, but when I saw some of you guys up there at the stairs, I couldn’t help but hug them, and smile, knowing you had the same feeling. And it’s effin’ great and really that 4 little old Irish men can do that me. So, with the risk of sounding cheesy, I swear I’ll never forget that moment and will always be thankful for it.
Really great interview, Glenn.
I went to almost the same shows as you did (Amsterdam + Antwerp), so I can easily relate to your experiences.
At the end of each concert I just feel blessed to have experienced the concert, the music, the atmosphere. I just want to stay in the arena as long as possible until security kicks me out Capture the moment, you know.
reading this I couldn't help but smile to myself there's so much passion and adoration in your words, great interview!
I wasn't actually there at a'dam 4 (bummer, as it was one of /the/ shows in europe), but night 2, and while it was probably the "weakest" of the amsterdam run it still says a lot about u2/the show that you remembered me being among those blissed-out faces because even a mediocre u2 show is still worth every second...
btw, it was a pleasure to meet you hopefully, until next year!