Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Canada Part 3 - U2, A Howling Wind and Stinging Rain, and a Fan Jam

July 7
For sale on the Rue St-Hubert, Montreal
Another hot and sunny day. which we had delegated as one of our lazy days.  We sauntered to the Rue St-Hubert to do some shopping.  It was a lively colourful place selling almost everything under the sun.  We bought three hats to protect us from the sun a bit - we snapped the three up for $10!  We'd baulked at the cost of things in Quebec (food etc was much more expensive than here) but obviously there were bargains to be had on Rue St-Hubert.

That evening we went to another of Marie-Anne's recommendations, a Portuguese restaurant called Casa do Alentejo.  It was what I would call cheap and cheerful with excellent food.  I had grilled sardines to start - never seen such huge sardines and they were succulent with crispy skin.  For the main I had a barbecued steak with fries, the steak was very tender and cooked perfectly.  All washed down with a smooth litre of Valpolicella (between us I hasten to add!!)

July 8
Show time!  We had standing tickets for the U2 360 gig today and Debbi and Julie left early to get a good position in the pit area.  Dianne and I couldn't be bothered to stand in the heat for so long and left a few hours later.  Luckily our Metro Stop, Beaubien was on the orange line which went directly to the venue so it was a simple trip.

The Hippodrome, which was just a ten minute walk from the Metro, used to be a racing track but it was demolished a couple of years ago and it was just open ground.  A special stadium was built just for the two U2 concerts.  The seats looked a bit scary, open, high and supported by thousands of  metal poles. The signage was abysmal, little to tell you which was to go and once inside nothing pointing to toilets, concessions or merchandise. There was also a distinct lack of security staff organising things.  There were lots of pointy tents that reminded me of Glastonbury and a music event called the Fan Jam going on.

Dianne and I found a really good place on the outer rail of the red zone on Adam's side of the stage.  We could see the catwalk and the main stage and the screens from there so it worked out well. It was still very hot and I was really glad I'd bought the pink floral hat lol!  It didn't do much for me but it kept my head cool. There was a good concert vibe around.

The support band was Interpol and they were as boring for me as they were years ago when they supported U2 in Glasgow on some tour (can't remember which.)

U2 took the stage at 9.15pm to the strains of Space Oddity by David Bowie and launched into the Achtung Baby songs that they opened with at Glastonbury - I was hoping for this.  It took me back to those heady days when we were even madder than we are now lol!  Great songs and an amazing vibe in the crowd.

Bono was in one of his funny moods evident when he did the band introductions after a quip, "I need another two minutes" as he tried to catch his breath.  He introduced Larry as Bonnie Prince William (a nod to the recent tour of Canada by William and Catherine).  Adam was Kate Winslet, not sure why!  Edge was "Our own Prince of Wales" and he referred to himself as a, "Chien royal" which the French speaking crowd received with bemusement, "Corgis, you know, royal dogs?" The crowd didn't get it, not the best place for that kind of joke Bono, but we found it hilarious!  He talked a lot in what sounded like a poor French and the translation in English of his words that appeared on the screens was very amusing, it seemed like another language at times.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm looking for was magical, with the crowd singing a verse themselves, all the more amazing seeing it wasn't their mother tongue.  A snippet of Springsteen's Promised Land was added at the end.

Poster in Montreal
Beautiful Day had an intro by astronaut Mark Kelly in a recorded piece from the International Space Station, where he let cards with the words on float off in the gravity free environment.  The song was dedicated to Gabby Gifford, Kelly's wife, who was shot and seriously wounded at a political meeting in Arizona a few months ago.  Everyone rocked and sang along, it was certainly a beautiful night!

My favourite section of the show began with Miss Sarajevo.  The operatic part was very emotional and Bono hit all the notes perfectly, it still amazes me that he can sing like that!  Beautiful.  Next up was Zooropa which I'd been waiting for not having seen it played live since 1993.  The Claw screen stretched down until it was right on the stage with the band behind it, and like that they played the song.  It was a brave thing to do as the song is one most of the audience wouldn't know and the band was out of sight, but it was fabulous!  What a brilliant off the wall song it is and i loved the version they played as static and blue light played over the Claw screens.  What a treat!

The Claw during City of Blinding Lights was beautifully coloured.  Vertigo rocked and I like when the screen whizzes round at high speed at the end of the song. 

Good also to hear a little of Scarlet prior to Walk On which had the One/Amnesty International supporters coming onto the catwalk with white lanterns.  Bono acknowledged Aung San Suu Kyi's release but said he was singing the song for the other 2000+ political prisoners in Burma.

It was the usual encore, with a very powerful and emotional With Or Without You that had me transfixed.  I've tired of songs such as Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday which are played at almost every gig, but With Or Without You is played as much yet I love it every time. 

The band closed with Moment of Surrender, and I still think it does not work well as an ending.  There was such a fantastic vibe at the end of With Or Without You, that should have been the point to end.
As Moment of Surrender was finishing raindrops started falling (a storm had been predicted) and Bono started singing The Beatle's Rain.  Then, suddenly, it was as if a dam had broken and a monsoon like rain fell, followed by a swirling, gale force wind came equally out of the blue.  Talk of timing, right at the end of the show the heavens opened.  I glanced up at the screen to see the band disappearing down the steps, a big smile on his face, it was ok for them!!
Dianne first put her umbrella up, it blew out one way, then the other way, no way could it cope with the wind.  We had our ponchos with us but getting them on was another matter, the wind kept whipping mine off, I couldn't find where to get my head and arms through as it flapped in the wind.  Then I got hysterical with laughter underneath the blue plastic, already well soaked.  It took ages but in the end managed to help each other into our ponchos still giddy with laughter.  All around us people were scattering, laughing, yelling, struggling with various items of rainwear, it was hilarious.

There was a sea of fans as far as the eye could see, we had arranged to meet up with Debbi and Julie , but in this mass of people being buffeted by wind and rain we knew we would never find them.  I could hear my mobile text alert going but couldn't take out the phone because it was so wet.  We peeped in a tent, it was crammed full of people sardine style and it was lovely and warm and dry!  We squeezed in and I read the text which was from Deb, we agreed to make our own way home. 

Then we braved the elements again, it was no better, huge puddles and mini rivers forming.  It was hard to know which was to go to the Namur Metro station as there were no signs, no security to guide us and neither of us could see well because our glasses were waterlogged!  Wide masses of people stretched off in four different directions so we just  took pot luck and went with the nearest one.  About half way to the Metro station the crowd of people came to a halt and for the next one and a half hours we moved forward a step at a time.  It was truly a Fan Jam!  It was still raining and thunder rumbled above.  Being in the midst of a sea of people I didn't feel the wind anymore.  It was now quite cold but the plastic ponchos helped keep us a bit warm, others were not so lucky and some and literally shivering with the cold.  It was total chaos, I've been to many, many big concerts like this over the years and have never experienced such badly organised security outside a venue.

When we finally got into the station I felt like getting on my knees and kissing the ground!  The Metro staff were well organised, people telling you where to go and which carriage to get in.  We sank into our seats with a sigh of relief, good to get off our feet after all the standing and it was lovely and warm in there too.

When we got off at Beaubien the rain and wind had stopped, it was 1.45am when we got to our apartment, Debbi and Julie arrived five minutes after us looking as bedraggled and wet as us!
We have a tradition of having champagne, pizza and a U2 quiz after the last gig we see.  It was a bit different this time, we had two gigs to go but, for various reasons we were having our celebration that night. 

Due to the ridiculous price of the Veuve Clicquot in Montreal ($68!!!) we had good prosecco instead and it was delicious!  Dianne won the quiz and we were up until 5am, we can still hack it as rock chicks LOL!

A little clip of the last moments of the gig below, gives a little impression of the rain and wind (By Cara)

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