By Elliott Garstin
Stepping out of MARTA and following the hordes up the concourse to the Georgia Dome on Tuesday night felt like well every other Falcons game that Ive been to. There was an energy in the air. Fans were sporting their old shirts, tailgating, dodging scalpers, crusty homeless guys were meddling about, promo teams eagerly hawked their wares and dudes shouted woooo at random where ever you went.
Having never been to the Georgia Dome for a concert, I wasnt quite sure what to expect. Shows at Phillips more often than not sound like garbage, and with a place that holds four times as many people, I didnt think a theatre quality show was in order.
What I got was spectacle. As we entered the building, Muse was in mid-set. Having seen their show a few years ago at Gwinnett Arena, I knew these guys could bring it in a setting like this. Their songs are bombastic and epic, yet they still have fundamental elements that keep you engaged.
As we took our seats in the upper level with the common people, I bore witness to a majestic structure more befitting to the War of the Worlds movie than a concert setting.
This massive set up had four giant legs and a massive top littered with light trusses, sniper perch spotlight technicians and giant HD screens. Walls of speakers adorned the top on all four sides as Muse cranked through their set. Most people were finding their seats and at this point it looked more like a Falcons pre-season game.
Muse didnt take much advantage of the 360-degree stage though. They played to the crowd in front of them while two giant bridges and a giant circular walkway around the stage went unused. The band played a neat and tidy 45-minute set with minimal downtime between songs. Their set was heavy on hits like Knights of Cydonia, Supermassive Blackhole and Hysteria. They even sprinkled some new tunes in there as well, but the crowd was pretty ambivalent until they played Starlight, which got a real nice response from the Georgia Dome.
Between sets, you really got to sense the grandiosity of the event. People on the floor milled about like ants, while beer vendors in neon yellow windbreakers hawked $8 16oz. domestics and $5 waters. Yet all were dwarfed by this behemoth of a structure.
Surprisingly it was only 45 minutes between bands as David Bowies Space Oddity blared over the speakers, queing the masses to strap in for a celestial trip.
The 80,000 plus crowd came to life as the band took the stage. A giant spire reaching to the ceiling, cutting through the space monster stage was illuminated and the show jumped off.
Unfortunately though for all of the crowds enthusiasm, the band didnt do much to reciprocate the adoration initially. Breathe from the bands latest album No Line On The Horizon had everyone right back in their seats after the initial momentary freakout.
Things changed quickly though as the band began dropping the hits in amongst the new material to reinvigorate the masses. The sound in the Georgia Dome was surprisingly good with gut rumbling low end and enough punch to keep the crowd engaged.
Bono summoned the spirit of a Southern Baptist preacher by getting people on their feet, waving their arms, singing to their hearts content and at one point even breaking into Amazing Grace.
Bonos voice, while generally strong, cracked a few times and was assisted from Edges excellent background vocals. I could be wrong, but at times it sounded like there was some vocal backing track accompaniment, which at their age probably isnt too bad of an idea.
The set list tried to accentuate their material from the 90s and beyond, and while generally effective, I couldnt help but be a bit disappointed at the lack of deeper tracks from their 80s catalogue.
One interesting selection though was a sort of raved out version of The Unforgettable Fire complete with Larry Mullin Jr. busting out the bongos .nice!
Mysterious Ways and Until the End of the World from Achtung Baby both sounded great as the Edge got to exploit the ridiculously big sound with his effect peddle masterwork.
Then as sure as clockwork the politics rolled in. The stage was drenched in green lights in support of Iranian revolutionaries during a spirited version of Sunday Bloody Sunday, and you could see the eyes starting to roll with many of the more right leaning attendees.
During Walk On over a hundred people adorned the stage wearing masks with the image of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese political figure, who has been under house arrest since 1991.
U2 then came back for an encore featuring One and a fantastic version of Where The Streets Have No Name, but at that point I was ready to get to steppin, so we made our way to the train.
Apparently the band came back and played a few more songs including With or Without You, but theres only so much of Bono you can take in one sitting.
U2 is the biggest band in the world for a reason. They play to the masses and as annoying as they can be most of the time, they still have some unbelievable songs and the band knows how to put on a show.
(Photo by Perry Julien)
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