By Molly Whitehorn, Staff Writer
While Fergie sang, women in liquid gold pants, red half-tops and white ski-masks danced, hundreds of young people in plaid shirts pumped their fists and an emerald light show flashed overhead. No, this was not somebody’s bizarre dream; this was a U2 concert on their 360° tour and this was just the first 20 minutes.
The night of Sunday, Oct. 18, was no normal night for the Gaylord Family Stadium in Norman, Okla., which is probably better known as the home of the Oklahoma University Sooners.
Although most fans had been in their seats since well before 6:30, it was not until around 7:45 that the JumboTron with 360° range (for which the tour was named) lit up with a green alien-like figure. He began to warn the audience about what was to come when the Black Eyed Peas took the stage. Maybe it was the way he looked down upon the audience with such authority, or maybe it was the way the cool air was hitting everyone’s faces, but the entire audience seemed to know that they were in for the concert of a lifetime.
The Black Eyed Peas set the tone of the night with their first number “Let’s Get It Started.” The crowd was on its feet soon after they began the well-known hit. With back up-dancers who looked like something out of I, Robot, the band seemed on top of the game. Fergie’s voice rarely missed a note and Will.i.am, Apl.de.ap, and Taboo brought their usual dosage of testosterone into the mix. The band seemed just as excited as the audience to be seeing U2, with Will.i.am repeatedly thanking the audience and saying just how grateful he was to be in Oklahoma (which became something of an inside joke with the band towards the end of their set).
They only had time for 10 songs, half of which were blasts from the past, such as “Where Is The Love?” and “My Humps.” Four were from their most recent album, The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies), including the radio hits “Boom Boom Pow” and “Meet Me Halfway.” They closed with “I Gotta Feeling,” leaving everyone pumped for the main show. The band was even nice enough to let Fergie play her solo hit “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
After the Black Eyed Peas left, the audience had to wait through nearly 45 minutes of pure agony for U2. When “Space Oddity” by David Bowie began blasting through the speakers, the lights dimmed and the audience became hysterical– the moment everyone had waited for was finally here.
While the crowd nearly had a mass heart attack, Larry Mullen walked casually up onto the massive stage, took out his drumsticks and began to play the drum line to “Breathe.” Soon Adam Clayton walked on just as nonchalantly and began to play his bass. Then, with the audience causing a minor earthquake, The Edge and Bono slowly swaggered on to the stage. The Edge began to tear up the guitar, and Bono started to sing before saying a word.
After the explosive opening, Bono set a playful mood by joking around about the strange contrast from the Black Eyed Peas to U2.
“It’s like Xena the Warrior Princess opening for Parliament-Funkadelic; it’s like Bill Clinton opening up for George Clinton,” Bono said.
The band then went into an epic seven-song run, which included the U2 staples “Beautiful Day” and “Mysterious Ways.” They cooled down the impressive marathon of songs by playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” during which Bono sometimes stopped singing for several lines at a time and let the audience completely take over.
The band then went into a unique version of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” with just Bono on vocals and The Edge playing an acoustic guitar. Not wanting to leave the mood calm for too long, the entire band soon came back on and played “No Line On The Horizon.” The band went on to play classic songs and new hits alike such as “In A Little While,” “Vertigo,” “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” “Bloody Sunday,” “Unknown Caller” and many more. Mullen never missed a beat and Clayton kept his cool the entire concert. Bono was on his A-game and The Edge played rocking chords that would have made Hendrix himself smile.
After playing a snippet of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the musical Carousel, the band thanked the audience and exited the stage.
But this was a rock concert. The audience was not fooled and remained standing until U2 returned to the stage. The encore took on an important issue, which must be expected when going to anything of which Bono is a part. The issue was AIDS and malaria in Africa, and the band honored the cause by playing “One,” which is also the name of Bono’s charity to fight these diseases. Bono even whipped out a guitar of his own for the song and a snippet of “Amazing Grace.” The band closed with an electric version of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and, once again, the band thanked the audience and left.
But this was a U2 concert! The band came on for a second encore that included “Ultra Violet (Light My Way)” and “With Or Without You.” Then the band did a larger-than-life rendition of “Moment of Surrender.” The band took their final bows, smiled and gave their final thanks to the audience.
The lights then came up and the audience began to gather the stuff they came with (purses, jackets) and the stuff they would now leave with (T-shirts, posters). Though everyone had different material things to collect, everyone left with the same feeling of knowing that they just saw something no one would ever be able to recreate. They just saw music. They just saw rock and roll. They just saw U2.