Me too at U2 concert in Auckland

I went to the U2 concert in Auckland last night. This was their first gig in bout 2 years, kicking of Australian and Asian extension to their 2017 Joshua Tree tour that marked the 30th anniversary of the release of their most popular album.

And I must admit, it is one of my favourite albums too, so this was a looked forward to concert. I haven’t been to U2 before. I was booked to go to Auckland in 2006 but they postponed it, and I couldn’t make the rescheduled show.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds opened, and they were pretty good, with about eleven band members, but for me mostly unremarkable apart from being good solid rock.

The large crowd switched up quite a few notches when the U2 crew appeared on stage one by one. It wasn’t quite Beatlemania but a young women near me was adoringly gaga through the show, it was funny to see that sort of adulation close up. And we were close up, about 5 metres from the extended stage that they started playing on, almost touching the crowd physically and more than touching it emotionally.

They began with some pre-Joshua Tree hits with no visuals apart from lighting, the aim being to connect with the crowd, which they did very well.

They then moved back to the main stage to play through The Joshua Tree, backed by an enormous screen with amazing visuals. Which was just about all shorter people could see in the packed standing area. You don’t go to stadium concerts for box seat close up views and sublime sound – the sound system was very good, but when the crowd sings along to most of the songs you don’t hear everything with clarity.

For me the whole Joshua Tree segment was a highlight, I  thoroughly enjoyed it. The band are seasoned pros but looked like they were doing much more with their music than going through the motions. The buzz obviously keeps them going.

I was standing in the general admission area and far prefer the freedom to move, despite more obstructed views, than a seat in the stands along the sides of the stadium.

After The Joshua Tree they played one later song then waved and went off. It was obvious that there was going to be an ‘encore’, and this staged encore stuff annoys me a bit, and on this occasion the crowd generally didn’t buy into it. We just waited until they came back on and resumed.

The last few songs were good enough. Some people may have not liked the tribute to women in history and women’s liberation when they included Helen Clark, Jacinda Ardern and Pania Newtown, but I thought it was a fair enough expression of well researched local content.

They closed with One, and this featured a big tribute to the Christchurch mosque victims. Very well done and quite moving.

There was no chance of a real encore after that.

So for me a great concert by one of the great bands.

Unfortunately it was followed by a downer. Getting away from a big crowd venue can always be a bit of a hassle, but Mt Smart is the worst I have experienced. It seemed that just about all of the 45,000 or so crowd were leaving in the same direction, towards the Panmure train station. This was slow and at time (quite a bit of time) stalled waiting for trains.

U2 started just after 8:30 and played through until  bit after 10:30, but we didn’t get back to Britomart until after midnight. It was about 1:30 am that I finally got back to where I was staying. It had been a long day and that was a long letdown. I was seriously wondering whether I should go to the second concert tonight, tickets seem to be plentiful and cheap to try to fill the stadium, but the after gig experience has definitely decided me against that.

But I’m very glad I stuck with it this time and made it to the concert. Getting to it wasn’t without some hiccups. I had been quick off the mark and booked reasonable plane tickets and accommodation. Then a few weeks later Jetstar advised the flight time to Auckland was changed, making it too late for the concert. So I had to cancel that and book with air NZ, and by then they were over twice the price.

Then three weeks before the concert accommodation was cancelled – a tenant had apparently damaged it so it needed repairs. Hotels in the CBD were by now horrendous prices. I was fortunately able to chance upon somewhere else, which added an hour to after gig travel.

So I’m pleased I have finally been to see and hear U2, but some of the hassles around it won’t encourage me to come to Auckland for a concert gain.