Vegas/Arizona Trip – October 2009, Day 6

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We had breakfast at the Mandalay Bay buffet. They had good bacon, along with tasty biscuits and gravy, but their fruit selection was sparse (where were the fresh berries?) and the fish was dry (except the lox in the eggs, which was good).

We checked out of our sweet suite, and went to the airport. Because we were flying to Arizona, we left out of the C gates. They looked old and in need of a makeover, although we saw two new things: the Sammy Hagar cantina and some eBay slots. I was surprised the Hagar cantina wasn’t in one of the newer gates, and I was surprised that the eBay slots were there because those are relatively new, but they might be on their way out now.

I put one last $20 through a video poker machine but lost it quickly.

We flew Southwest for the first time. We paid the extra $10 to get into the A group for boarding (so we didn’t have to arrive at the airport as early). My row was full, but after a man took the window seat in Tim’s row, he tried to look surly so nobody would sit next to him. The flight to Phoenix was short (only about an hour and 15 minutes).

We picked up our rental car at the airport and drove to our hotel in Glendale. The hotel was within walking distance of the University of Phoenix Stadium, which is why we chose that location.

We had dinner at Gordon Biersch Brewery. For an appetizer, we had pretzels with two kind of mustard sauce. We were very hungry, so the pretzels were extra good. I had a strawberry mint lemonade and some fish tacos, which were also good.

We went back to the hotel and napped for an hour before the show, then walked across the street to the venue.

University of Phoenix Stadium

I’d seen pictures of the stage, but couldn’t believe the size of it, even in person. It was almost as big as our suite at THEhotel.

University of Phoenix Stadium

Instead of trying to get close to the stage or the walkway, we hung back towards the center of the stadium. We sat down before the opening set because we were still pretty worn out from our Vegas adventure.

The Black Eyed Peas were the opening act, and they were an odd fit for U2, but by the end of the set, they really got the crowd into it.

They began with a futuristic green head declaring that this is “the E.N.D.” which is also the title of their latest album. Then they started with “Let’s Get It Started” (clever!). They used the giant video screen hanging from the spiderlike set, and they also had a laser show that projected onto the back wall of the arena.

Black Eyed Peas

Lasers

Fergie was wearing some sort of fur vest thing over a silvery dress. She performed “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” one of her solo hits, and let the audience do most of the singing.

Black Eyed Peas

Then the full band returned for “Where Is the Love?” and Will.i.am proclaimed his love of music, to which Tim responded, “If you love music so much, why are you doing this to it?” (He’s not a fan.)

Black Eyed Peas

The last song was “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which was the highlight of their set. The audience got really pumped up and was dancing and singing along.

Black Eyed Peas

I do have to say that I’m extremely disappointed that they didn’t do “My Humps,” because I was hoping to say that I had seen that song live. Another thing that stays on the bucket list, I suppose.

Between sets, we went to get some food from one of the vending areas in the concourse from the slowest booth in the world. (And the guy at the register had the nerve to ask for a tip! Not happening.)

We noticed people being let into the center part of the set (between the stage and the walkway) and we could have chosen to go in there, but we didn’t feel like being squished like sardines. It was kind of a weird way to see a show, because for the previous two shows, we’d been in the middle of the crowd, loudly singing and dancing along, and for this show we were observers more than participants. Not that it wasn’t a good show, but it was just a different experience.

U2 performed the standard setlist that they’d been playing throughout the tour, a mixture of classics and songs from the new album.

U2

The set really came to life for U2. They played “Space Oddity” before they came onstage, alluding to the giant spaceship-like thing they’d built to play on.

They had bridges from the main stage to a walkway, and the bridges moved from the sides of the stage to the center.

U2

U2

They lowered and raised the video screen, and even expanded it like an accordion during “The Unforgettable Fire.” One of the diamond-shaped pieces of the video screen was out, but it was still a magnificent piece of technology.

U2

They also used it to showcase their bobbing heads during a remix of “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” I wonder if this means they’ll be returning to a Zooropa-like sound on their next album?

U2

It was interesting how this contrasted with the Fountains of Wayne show we saw on our first night. That show was small and intimate, and there were no stage effects whatsoever. This show was all about the spectacle and the video screens, and the venue was enormous. U2 are still great performers and excellent songwriters, but this was just a different experience for me. It wasn’t as emotional, but it didn’t prevent me from appreciating what was before me.

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