Like the very first song on U2’s very first 1,000-copies-in-Ireland-only EP - the song Bono wrote on his 18th birthday - tonight’s performance by the biggest band of our times is bound to be Out of Control.
But in the best possible way.
If it’s possible for the music legends’ storied 32-year career to come a full 360 degrees to a place where those humble beginnings meet unimaginable worldwide success and a long-awaited conclusion that might be a conclusion - or then again might be the beginning of a whole new, even greater orbit - if it’s possible, that circle might just close tonight on a tour called 360 in a place called Moncton.
Yes, Moncton is the place where mere concerts have a way of becoming events. But no event has the potential to go down in music history like this one, the wrapup of the most successful concert tour ever held.
The Rolling Stones’ 2005 Moncton show was huge and AC/DC’s 2009 show was huge, both the biggest shows of their respective North American tours when they hit a farmer’s field turned fan-freaking-tastic festival ground.
But tonight we break whole new ground on our whole new grounds, looking like they never have before as a result of the combined efforts of 2,400 people, a place where today stands a giant spaceship taller than almost every other building in our city, and where a population greater than the city itself will soon be pulled into the orbit of its perfect circle stage, the saturnalian ring wrapped ‘round its heady atmosphere.
All of that sounds hopelessly over-the-top, of course, unless you’ve been to one of the 109 other shows on U2’s 360 Tour.
If you haven’t, you’ll soon understand. It’s over the top and halfway to space. There are no superlatives to describe it. It is the superlative.
And if you don’t go see and hear it for yourself tonight, you’ll just have to find something else to talk about at pubs and parties and water coolers around here for the next 32 years or so.
If you hate U2, you’ll still end up hating yourself for missing this one. If you love U2, it looks like you’re about to be in really good and growing company around here.
Less than 24 hours ago, a crowd of print and television and radio and online journalists, bloggers and even a couple of pseudo-freelance BSers who talked their way through the gates just to get an up-close look at the concert site got that up-close look and knew all their previous descriptions of this thing coming had somehow been inadequate.
It’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby, like it’s never rocked and rolled before.
Donald Tarlton, the real man behind what millions of Canadians over two or three generations know as Donald K. Donald, picks up the story from there.
“It all started about three years ago,” Tarlton said yesterday, the giant claws rising 15 storeys above him. “I had a dream. My partner André Hudon had a dream - wouldn’t it be great to get U2 to come to Atlantic Canada?”
He admitted it seemed like an impossible task when they first investigated it because the show was built to play in stadiums.
But then, “an unfortunate incident involving Bono’s back forced a reschedule and André and I spotted a window of opportunity,” he said.
“It’s a great coup for Atlantic Canada and a great thrill for us to be involved.”
Tarlton said when he heard it would indeed be the tour’s finale, he said, “if it turns out to be the last show of the tour, I’m telling you there’s no greater place for a party than Atlantic Canada. The fans of Atlantic Canada will give this band the greatest send-off for a tour they could possibly have. We know we’ve got the fans coming tomorrow and we know we’ve got the band coming tomorrow, and it’s going to be great.”
U2 production director Jake Berry takes over from Tarlton.
“As everybody knows, this is a very special show for everyone on the tour because this is the last one.” Follow tonights show via twitter or facebook streams.
On Monday, the three spaceship/claw stages go up for sale, their work complete after helping the band entertain more than seven million people around the world.
“It’s not very special for us crew people because we’ve got to look for jobs on Monday,” Berry said, but, “we chose to finish off in this beautiful site, and we’re ready.”
The show is special enough for U2 fans that they’ve literally been coming to Moncton from all over the world the past few days, whether they have to save money by staying in tents or they can afford their own private jets.
Look around and you may see that one of U2’s fans who is saying farewell to the 360 Tour is actor - fellow social activist and fellow Irishman Pierce Brosnan. If you do spot him, remember you heard it here first, folks.
While the Brad and Angelina and Oprah story particle colliding in an uncontrolled chain reaction yesterday seemed too far fetched to believe - Oprah doesn’t go to concerts; they come to her - the chance of seeing Eric Clapton might be better, though far from confirmed.
And the speculation about Neil Young having breakfast at Cora’s yesterday seems to actually be true, with several reported sightings. Moncton’s Tracey Suley was among them. She didn’t see the Canadian music icon at Cora’s, but did cross paths with a man who was either Young or the identical twin brother he didn’t know he had in behind the restaurant near the Delta Beauséjour Hotel.
And speaking of special visitors, don’t be surprised if for a spilt second or so tonight there is in fact someone at the site louder than the show itself. At the site, or maybe over it.
Craig Evans, U2’s 360 Tour manager, picks up the story.
Asked about all the swirling talk of other celebrities coming to Moncton because it’s the 360 Tour’s final date, he said yesterday, “there are certainly other people who we are expecting here tonight. This band has a lot of fans who are both celebrities and common people. There will be a bunch of familiar faces. It happens at most shows.”
There’s a huge amount of loyalty among those fans, he said.
“You get to understand the passion that they feel. That passion is when every show happens, the first time when the lights go down and the audience stands up and starts roaring and the band comes on the stage, everybody has an arm with hair standing up on end, feeling that moment. In a U2 show, what’s kind of unique is that happens several times during the evening.”
He couldn’t speak of what surprises the band might have in store, but “without a doubt, the crew has a few things in mind that we can’t speak about yet because it’s going to be a surprise to the band.”
And by the way, Evans said U2 is well aware the Town of Springhill, N.S., has made them honourary citizens for their keeping the memory of the town’s mining history alive through their singing of the classic Springhill Mining Disaster.
He said, however, travel timing would prevent the band from visiting the town in response to an invitation from the mayor, but he did hint the kindness might be acknowledged somehow at the show.
Evans predicted people will be really taken by the whole spectacle that is U2, especially on this mother of all tours. Beyond the show itself, he spoke of the view of the city and the acres of forest in their full summer greenery just behind the venue will make the final night special.
“That’s an amazing thing,” he said. “It’s one thing playing in a well-designed cement stadium. It’s another thing entirely to play in nature and grass and people. This is real. It’s more of an event than a concert. I think we have a very special opportunity to end this tour in a very unique and special place.
“This was a big decision to end the tour here, but it was very much a part of the band’s decision and wish.
“The band’s going to be emotional. They have had a huge journey. I think you’re going to see that.”