U2 returned to Buffalo for the first time since December 2005, and performed in front of more people than all their earlier Buffalo shows combined. That’s impressive for a band that has only released four albums since the turn of the century. The New Era
Field crowd was scattered on the football field and packed in the stadium seats. It was an impressive and enthusiastic crowd, especially considering it was a Tuesday night. After a well-received set by Beck, which started when most fans were still shuffling in or getting settled, U2 appeared shortly after the sun had gone down. They opened with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” while stationed in an area in front of the stage and with few production elements. The version captured the magic of the song as it appeared on the “Under a Blood Red Sky” EP that pre-dated “The Joshua Tree.” The first four songs were drawn from “War” and “The Unforgettable Fire,” the band’s third and fourth albums, both of which showed how the band evolved from a punk band
to a major headliner. It was the perfect setup for the performance of the album.“The Joshua Tree’ is an extraordinary album, and U2 gave it the musical and visual experience it deserved. While album shows take out much of the spontaneity of a live concert experience, the reality of the modern era is that music fans don’t consume music in the way they used to. Perhaps performing an album live is the best way for younger fans to understand what it was to experience a full album back then. Also for older fans to relive the days when “The Joshua Tree” was on turntables and in cassette and CD players.

The band continues to work with longtime creative director Willie Williams, who has worked with the band since 1983. The show is well choreographed, and the giant video screen’s clarity was remarkable.  In spite of its massiveness, it did not distract from the musical performance, which still felt like four guys who simply enjoy playing together. While Bono is not Mick Jagger, he is a larger than life presence and a true rock frontman. He sings with authority, he struts and moves and is always in command of the show. Vocally he sounded near perfect all evening, with only slight wear appearing on some of the encores. Just as the opening four songs pre-dated “The Joshua Tree,” the closing songs were all post- Joshua Tree numbers, and the band utilized the full capability of the video screen on all of them, through the closing number “One.”

Early on in the evening Bono mentioned the first time U2 performed in Buffalo was December 8, 1980, and it was one of their first shows in North America (They opened for the legendary Buffalo band Talas). It’s hard to imagine they ever were a bar band, and the reality is that period in their history was short-lived. They definitely have earned the ability to headline stadium shows, and somehow they manage to do what so many acts cannot do in massive venue, they still can connect with their fans. If they are in your town, you should take in their one-of-kind live experience.

Setlist:

Sunday Bloody Sunday

New Years Day

Bad (Give Peace a Chance -John Lennon cover snippet and America-Simon & Garfunkel cover snippet)

Pride (In the Name of Love)

Where the Streets Have No Name (California (There is No End to Love) snippet)

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Come Together – The Beatles cover snippet)

With or Without You

Bullet the Blue Sky (War-Edwin Starr snippet and America from The West Side Story cover snippet)

Running to Stand Still

Red Hill Mining Town

In God’s Country

Trip Through the Wires

One Tree Hill

Exit (Wise Blood snippet and Eeny Meeny Miny Moe)

Mothers of the Disappeared

 

Encore:

Beautiful Day (Starman – David Bowie cover snippet)

Elevation

Vertigo (Helter Skelter – The Beatles cover snippet)

Mysterious Ways (Miss You -The Rolling Stones cover snippet)

Ultraviolet (Light my Way)

One (Drowning Man snippet)

 

Photo Gallery

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Photos by Gus Griesinger. We would like to thank Olivia Muenz, Jacob Mears and Laura Burrus from Nasty Little Man for the credentials to review the show. 

About The Author Thom Jennings

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Born and raised in Rochester, NY and currently residing in Albion NY, Thom spent seventeen years as a mobile disc jockey, playing classic rock at local bars and also performing at weddings. Thom’s first concert was Styx in 1979, and shortly afterward he landed a volunteer position taking surveys at all the local rock concerts from 1981-1983, during which he saw almost every major arena rock concert.

Thom is an avid Todd Rundgren fan, and has traveled all over the east coast to see Todd. Since 1983 he has only missed one of Todd’s east coast tours. His collection of Rundgren memorabilia includes two signed miniature replicas of and a signed ukulele.

Currently, Thom’s full time job is as a social studies teacher, he graduated from college in his late thirties and began a part-time career as an op-ed columnist which later led to his current position as music writer for The Lockport Union Sun and Journal and The Niagara Gazette.

Thom has also had music related columns published in Buffalo Insider Magazine, The Medina Journal-Register, The North Tonawanda Times and is a frequent contributor to Backstage Axxess.

Top Five Concerts:

1. Van Halen, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Kim Mitchell Rochester, NY September 1, 1986

2. The Who and The Clash Buffalo, NY September 26, 1982

3. Ringo’s All Starr Band Canandaigua, NY August 25, 1992

4. Paul McCartney Toronto, ON August 8, 2010

5. SARS Benefit Concert Toronto, ON July 30, 2003

Multiple Shows (ten or more):

Todd Rundgren /Utopia -109

Rik Emmett/Triumph- 27

Cheap Trick -18

Styx /Styx related bands- 15

Flogging Molly- 10

First concert:

Styx, Rochester, NY November 8, 1979