So, following on from my rants about the year in music, I went to a heap of big concerts this year.
Faith No More, Metallica (twice), Muse, U2
Add to that; Children Collide, Regurgitator, Big Day Out, Illy, Little Red/Sparkadia, Grinspoon, and you have a pretty good year of music!
But over the last month or so I went to 3 of the big ones.
I have never seen them live before. I always wanted to be in the Snake Pit back in 1993 but couldn’t afford it. So I made up for it in 2010 by seeing the Kings of Metal, twice. The first time was standing up on the floor about 5 metres away from James Hetfield. What can I say? AMAZING. They are the ultimate professionals. Their stage setup is great, with the audience surrounding them as they pelt around the stage non-stop giving every angle of the arena a piece of the ‘talica. Their music was the biggest highlight. They varied their setlist for both of the gigs I went to, playing old and new stuff and only ONE ballad. (you know the one)
The 2nd time I saw them I was up in the upper level of Acer Arena, but having the front row was great as I got an excellent view of their on-stage shenanigans and the sound was probably better than the first gig. They even played Last Caress and Leper Messiah which went OFF.
It’s bloody awesome to be able to see a band that you have been idolising for 20 years finally in the flesh and soak in your favourite songs being played RIGHT THERE. That’s the key to seeing live music. It’s LIVE. It’s happening. Awesome shows
Having seen Muse twice already at the Big Day Out’s of 2007 and 2010 I thought I’d know what to expect from these giants of UK rock. I had tickets to see their headline show in 2007 as well, but couldn’t make it, so I was dead keen to finally see them do their own thing on stage.
First, their stage set-up was great. We had seated tickets (that’s what I get for letting old fart mates get tickets!) and were seated almost side of stage. 3 big skyscrapers were positioned on stage and I wondered whether we’d be able to see anything at all.
Yeah, I shouldn’t have worried. The sounds of ‘Uprising’ began and huge cloths dropped off the towers revealing the guys lifted up off the stage on individual platforms. AWESOME.
Matt Bellamy is a real showman, which is funny because he hardly spoke for the whole gig. Dom (drummer) said a few things on the mic, but that was about it. Matt had the clothes (think mirror-ball jacket), the moves (spinning around during Plug in Baby or shining light over the crowd) and the attitude.
Overall the show was good, but not as great as I’d expected actually. They played most of the hits. Their stage show was great, but I was a little disappointed with the constant filler music between songs, including the symphonic songs from Resistance . Too many extended intros and pissing around between songs. They didn’t play Bliss or MK Ultra, 2 of my favourites and they could have easily fit them in if it weren’t for the theatrics. I’m all for a stage-show and some theatrics are good, but not at the expense of more songs. 15 songs in an almost 2 hour set? Not enough when you have 5 albums worth of material. I think they probably almost played the same amount of songs in their Big Day Out sets.
EDIT: In fact, I confirmed this. They played 15 songs at the Sydney Big Day out 2010 as well!
Of course there were massive highlights. Starlight absolutely went off and Knights of Cydonia to finish was massive. They are a tops band, but in retrospect I actually think I enjoyed their Big Day Out shows more than their headline.
Is there a bigger band in the world than U2? I mean, I know The Rolling Stones are still kicking around, but they’re too crusty to count any more. LaLa had seen U2 3 times previously and made sure that I came along to the 360 degrees tour outside at ANZ Stadium.
Firstly, I was stoked to be at grass level in ANZ Stadium. I have seen many a footy match in there, including the great Socceroos vs Uruguay game of 2005 and to actually be in the centre of that massive stadium was a big thrill. Then I saw the stage. Holy crap! It was the biggest stage I’d ever seen, and I remember the Guns n’ Roses stage from Eastern Creek!
We made our way up closer, around 25 metres or so from the stage and settled in for Jay-Z, who was the support for the Australian leg of their world tour (Muse did their US leg!). Jay-Z had an impressive setup. I counted 12 people on stage including a sweet looking bari-sax and other horns. The drummer was elevated and it looked very cool. We caught half of their set including ’99 Problems’, ‘H to the Izzo’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’. He was ok. I am not much of a fan, but it was good to see him live for a little.
At 9pm U2 made their way, slowly, walking up to the stage. The tension and atmosphere were great as they made their way up. No theatrics to their entrance! I felt myself getting quite excitement at seeing Bono and the boys in the flesh after all these years. Beautiful Day was their 2nd song and it set the tone for an extremely fun and entertaining set. Bono didn’t do his expected preaching at all other than to comment on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi which was commendable. He also noted that more than 2000 Burmese are still detained for their political beliefs which is a good point.
They played ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Pride’, my 2 favourites and rolled out 24 songs in their 2 hour set. They just played hit after hit and for the old blokes that they are, it was great to see!
Vertigo was a highlight of the night as the ever-evolving stage move the big screens from the top right down to just above the band’s heads and rotated lights all the way around (hence 360 degrees!).
The massive tower that rose up from the middle of the stage had a disco ball on it and both this and a lower ball spun during the encore to an amazing effect over the packed out stadium. It really looked spectaular.
Clearly, this was the best and most elaborate stage I had ever seen. The music was very solid and you really couldn’t fault anything from the night. They did play a number of songs that I had never heard of, but then again I am not a huge fan so I wouldn’t expect to know them all.
Needless to say, U2 fans were happy and they’ll surely return to the next show in 4 years!
I might as well…
….and just for the hell of it, here’s a pic from when the Gurge hit the Maram Bar in Canberra in August.
Quan, Ben, Pete. They rocked it. They always do.