My Favorite U2 Tours

Larry giving me his drum stick.  Elevation New Jersey 2001

Larry giving me his drum stick.
Elevation New Jersey 2001

Since I ranked my favorite U2 albums and songs, I thought I would continue my ranking with tours, eras, lyrics and whatever else I can think of. Today’s post is about my favorite U2 tours, those that I have attended – ZooTv, PopMart, Elevation, Vertigo and 360. I thought about ranking all 75 shows I have been to, but that would be really tedious – plus I don’t have a great recollections for some of the ZooTv and PopMart shows unfortunately. So I am just going to share what my favorite shows are from each tour and then rank the five tours in order of my favorites. Let’s go back to the beginning where my musical journey on the road with U2 started, the ZooTv tour.

ZooTv was my first U2 tour. I became a U2 fan during the Joshua Tree tour but was not allowed to attend because my mom thought I was too young at 14 (almost 15). I had waited five long years to finally see U2 in concert. I attended eight shows on the ZooTv tour, met Bono twice and sat outside Hershey Stadium listening to the rehearsals for the tour. I saw two shows on the first leg in arenas and six shows on the third leg on the Outside Broadcast Tour in stadiums. My first U2 show was March 7, 1992 in Hampton, VA. I didn’t meet Bono that day, but I did see him and listen to him talk with other fans in the parking lot outside the arena before the show. My favorite show of the ZooTv tour was opening night of the Outside Broadcast Tour at Giants Stadium on August 12, 1992. That was the first time I met, spoke and got my picture taken with Bono, that was the first time I saw Larry come to the front of the stage and sing (“Dirty Old Town”), and that was the night that Lou Reed joined U2 on the b-stage to sing “Satellite of Love” (that footage was used as video for the rest of the tour). To read more about that night and all about my ZooTv experience, please click here

PopMart was five years later, and I again attended eight shows. My favorite was the Popmart show at Houlihans Stadium in Tampa on November 10, 1997. I think mainly because I stood right on the b stage, rather than staying in my seat. There was nothing between me and the stage. And for Popmart, U2 entered through the crowd and onto the b stage. At one point during the show, Bono put a leg out into the crowd and I hugged that leg for dear life. Something about Bono during PopMart that almost made me switch from Team Larry, almost. I thought U2 better than the shows I had seen on the first leg. It was raining and the top deck of the stadium was empty, but it was a great show! Third Eye Blind opened, and I really liked them at the time. Instead of karaoke like in the first leg, Edge sang “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and a belly dancer from the audience came on up on stage for “Mysterious Ways,” like during ZooTv. I didn’t know it at the time, but that belly dancer was Melissa Pruitt who would become my friend four years later. To read more about this show and all about my PopMart experience, please click here.

Elevation was four years later, and I went to 28 shows. including the first and last shows of the tour – both in Florida. I made so many friends on the Elevation tour and that is when the Larry Mullen Band shirts were invented and quickly became my U2 uniform. I had my three precious encounters with Larry Mullen Jr on the Elevation Tour! On the last show of the first leg of the tour on June 22, 2001 at Giants Stadium, Larry came to the front of the stage at the end of the show, leaned over and put his drum stick in my hand. Then on October 19, 2001 in Baltimore (my home town), I finally met Larry. This is the only time I’ve actually spoken to him and all I said was, “I don’t have anything for you to sign, so may I please have a hug.” Larry graciously obliged giving me the best hug ever! Less then two weeks later on Larry’s 40th birthday at the second show in Providence on October 31, 2001, Larry walked to the front of the stage, leaned over and gave me the champagne bottle that he, Bono and Edge had been drinking from – and it still had champagne in it. Larry celebrated his 40th birthday with me! That show was my favorite of all 28 I attended on the Elevation tour. Granted it was Larry’s 40th Birthday, and I love Larry, but it is also my favorite for the rarities U2 played that night. “Slow Dancing” was played for the first time on Elevation, and only the 11th time ever. “Party Girl” and “Wild Honey” were played for the first time on that leg of Elevation – and I’ve only heard those songs a couple of times ever. There was just an amazing energy that night in Rhode Island. To read more about this show and all the other great shows on Elevation (like Baltimore, Boston 4, Miami, etc), please click here.

Vertigo tour was four years later and I went back to my seeing my usual eight shows. For five out of the eight shows, I had seats. I only had GA for three shows, but luckily for those three shows I got beeped into the ellipse. My favorite part of the Vertigo tour was when Larry would walk around the catwalk to the middle of the ellipse and play drums and sing “RELEASE RELEASE RELEASE” during “Love and Peace.” My favorite of the tour was October 20, 2005 at the MCI Center in Washington DC. It was the second show in DC. That night U2 played four of my favorite songs: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Bad,” “Pride” and “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.” We were inside the ellipse right where Larry played “Love and Peace,” and I got the subtle Larry nod. To read more about this show and all eight shows I attended on Vertigo, please click here.

360 tour was four and six years later and I saw 24 shows. I went to 8 shows in 2009 and 16 in 2011. I did something that I had always wanted to do. I followed the U2 tour. In 2011, I drove to every show in the US. I took three months off, packed up the car, took the dogs and went. I drove over 18,000 miles seeing all the great American sites along the way. It was the best summer of my life. I also saw some great U2 shows. In Pittsburgh, the final Us show on 360, Larry hugged me on his way to the stage. What an amazing moment that was! In Chicago, U2 closed the show with “One Tree Hill.” Unbelievable! But my favorite show of the 360 tour was the second show in Anaheim on June 18, 2011. Anaheim was the only city where U2 played two back to back shows on that final leg of the 360 tour. I almost didn’t go to the second show because it was on a Saturday night, and I had to drive across the country in 3 days to make it to the show in Baltimore on Wednesday night. People were trying to get me to skip the show to make the drive easier, but I decided to stay. And thank goodness I did because because Anaheim2 was my favorite show of the U2 360 tour. That second night in Anaheim, U2 finally changed the set list – and change it they did! With every new change, I grew more and more excited! For the first and only time in the US, U2 started the show with five straight songs from Achtung Baby, celebrating its 20th anniversary. My favorite part of the night was when U2 finally brought my favorite song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” back into the set list for the first time that leg – and it remained there for the rest of the tour. I cried like a baby, literally tears streaming down my face. This was one of my favorite moments of the entire 360 tour – very special to me. To read more about this show and my entire life changing 360 experience, please click here.

My Favorite U2 Tours in order are as follows:

  1. Elevation
  2. 360
  3. ZooTv
  4. PopMart
  5. Vertigo

(If you are wondering why I ranked the U2 tours in this order, go back and re-read what I wrote about them.)

My favorite U2 show ever was Larry’s 40th Birthday show Providence 2 10.31.01. Here is what I wrote,

This was the best show ever! There will never be another one like it! I woke up outside around 8am – pretty good sleeping outside in 30 degrees for 5 hours. I went up to the warm hotel room until about 10am, then had some breakfast. I stayed in the GA line all day without leaving, except to take a shower around 3:30. I got everyone in the GA line to sign the big orange birthday card I made for Larry. I put my name and email address on the back just in case. The band didn’t arrive until after we were inside. Me, Tasha and Paola wore our Larry Mullen Band shirts. We got our spots at the rail up front and center between Bono and Adam. I held up my birthday card for Larry as they walked on stage, but he didn’t notice it. There were many, many signs including one saying, ‘Bono let Larry sing.’ During Elevation, Bono sang, ‘ Celebration’ then said, ‘Happy Birthday.’

After Stuck in a Moment, Larry’s 40th birthday celebration began. We sang Happy Birthday to Larry. A birthday cake was brought out and Larry pretended to throw it out into the audience. Larry took the mic and came to the front to talk while Bono sat behind the drums. Larry said, ‘Bono couldn’t play drums. It took me 40 years to get up front. I’m glad I’m spending my birthday with 18,000 of my closest friends. I feel like I could borrow money from you.’ Then Bono asked for a bottle of champagne, which he shook up a la ZooTV and sprayed the audience. Edge took a swig, then Larry drank and continued to drink for the next few songs. After Kite, Larry got off the drums and made a B line for me. I got my card and shirt in hand so I could give it to him, but that’s not why he was there. He gave me the champagne bottle – with champagne still in it. I drank some and shared it with Paola and Tasha. Larry wanted to share his birthday with ME! He wanted ME to have a drink on his birthday. I was SO excited I didn’t even know they played Wild Honey. I thought it was Staring at the Sun. I didn’t really come around until Please. After Pride, Larry came back over to me so I could give him the birthday card and Elvis tee shirt. I said, ‘Thank you. Happy Birthday.’ He smiled and said, ‘Thank You.’ He looked into my eyes, just like he had in Jersey. Then Paola gave Larry her Larry scrapbook, which contains the picture of him hugging me. Later on, Bono noticed our shirts, shook his head and smiled. Before leaving the stage Larry took Michelle’s Elvis sunglasses with sideburns and put them on. I was so elated after the show – walking around hugging the champagne bottle. I told my story on video for this women making a U2 GA documentary. I’m sure I made a fool of myself, but I was just VERY excited. Paola, Tasha and I went up to our warm, comfortable hotel room, ordered pizza, watched tv and went to sleep. What an amazing Larry night!

Providence 2 set list 10.31.01: Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until the End of the World, New Year’s Day, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Stuck in a Moment, Happy Birthday Larry, Party Girl, Slow Dancing, Kite, Wild Honey, Please, Bad / 40, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride, Bullet the Blue Sky, What’s Going On, New York, One, When Will I See You Again, Walk On

This Providence 2 was my favorite U2 show, not only on the Elevation tour, but favorite U2 show ever. I doubt there will ever be another night like it. Granted it was Larry’s 40th Birthday, and I love Larry. But also for the rarities U2 played that night. Slow Dancing was played for the first time on Elevation, and only the 11th time ever. Party Girl and Wild Honey were played for the first time on that leg of Elevation – and I’ve only heard those songs a couple of times ever. Apparently I was so enamored of my night of Larry moments that I forgot to write about the rare set list in my journal that night. I have still have that champagne bottle on my shelf, along with Larry’s drumstick he gave me in Jersey.

For everything U2, please follow me on Twitter @OnTheRoadWithU2.

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