Even if their ticket strategy was questionable, there wasn’t an iota of doubt after Sunday night that BookMyShow had outdone themselves by handling the world’s biggest rock band on their maiden concert in India and the final night of the year long The Joshua Tree Tour.
For the lucky fans who were close enough to touch The Edge’s feet from the Red Box, it wasn’t any less than a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience, but even for those languishing in the upper stands of the D.Y. Patil stadium, the atmosphere was quite emotional. Well, at least for a U2 fanboy and especially when 40,000 mobile phones transformed into makeshift candles on Bono’s command!
With no opening act and a lot of patient fans, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. walked on stage solo, sharp at 7:30pm like he had a date with his drum kit. Banging out the opening marching beats of Sunday Bloody Sunday, he only looked back once during the entire show to make a heart with his hands to the camera. Wearing the Mumbai tour dates on his tee, he constantly kept U2 simmering throughout the 2.5hr duration of the concert. The stage design was unique, with a B-stage cutting into the standing crowd built as a reflection of the Joshua Tree, and this is where the band started with to get the rousing fans in the mood for what they were really there for – to listen to the seminal album in its entirety.
Moving back to the main stage for Where the Streets Have No Name, the curved screen and trademark lights flushing the stadium in its bright glow, the audience was on their feet to support Bono’s soaring vocals and Adam Clayton’s inimitable bass lines. Using his voice to reach out beyond the farthest seats and straight into the hearts of the audience, Bono proved once again why he’s a bonafide Rock God. From Bad to Red Hill Mining Town to the piano-based Every Breaking Wave, his operatic grandeur gives U2 an unfair ‘edge’ over its peers. Laced with political jabs and reverent references to Indian leaders, Bono also knows how to catch the pulse of the region and connect with the crowd on multiple levels, using music as the ultimate binding agent.
Bullet the Blue Sky and Even Better Than the Real Thing gave The Edge a chance to show off his trademark guitar sound and playing style, which was truly a sensory experience that will be hard to shake off for a long time. Noel Gallagher, the band’s opening act for The Joshua Tree Tour, joined onstage minus his band, the High Flying Birds, only for Desire and added a bit of flavour that wasn’t offensive but not very effective either. Our very own export musician, A.R.Rahman made an appearance for the last two songs of the night with Ahimsa and One, shouldered by his daughters. Probably the weakest part of the show, this was obviously a clever bait for the fence-fans who decided to give U2 a listen based on a collaboration with a known name. Thankfully, the anthemic One is always a great way to tie up loose ends and the four Irish lads did a splendid job of making new fans and cementing loyalty of those who were starved of seeing them live for four decades!
Sure, the pyrotechnics could’ve been more extravagant, the 200ft screen could’ve flashed more band member faces for the back benchers and the sound could’ve been tighter with less echo for the upper stand ticket holders, but somehow everything felt forgivable solely because of the band’s commitment to their audience. Bono’s voice and thoughts resonate beyond the confines of the stadium and the sheer amount of noise just the other three musicians can generate is, quite frankly, the USP of U2. And that wasn’t compromised by virtue of playing in India. Bono thanked the crowd for giving them a good life and the band played their music like they meant every word of that. Thank you for the music and here’s hoping they pave the way for more classic rock adventures by BookMyShow!