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July 10, 2012 / jhsaeger

U2 Captures 360° Tour With U22 Album

    Almost a year has passed since U2 wrapped up its landmark 360° Tour at Moncton, Canada’s Magnetic Hill Festival. The Irish band’s tour encompassed three years, a landmark stage setup, and an audience of over seven million people while en route to becoming the highest-grossing tour of all time. The scope of the tour, one of several industry-defining tours in the band’s storied career, is as big as any in recent memory. To capture this period of U2’s career, the band recently issued U22, a fan-voted fan club-only release which manages to encapsulate the 360° Tour as the group’s best live album since U2 go Home: Live From Slane Castle in 2003.
    For a tour as vast as the 360° Tour, U22 captures the enormity of several different shows while injecting the double-disc with several special moments. The most important being the band’s magical cut of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with South African trumpeter Hugh Maskela. The spot-on mix of U22 is also a big element in the quality of the set. While some live releases turn down the crowd mic, the mix on U22 kept the audience on par with the band, allowing the big stadium choruses to become even more epic. The drum and bass mix are also of an unusual high quality for a live release.
    Among the best selections from U22 are an energy-infused take of “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and a version of “Until The End of the World” that is interspersed with a snippet of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night.” Other highlights include a blistering solo from The Edge on “Elevation,” How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb’s “City of Blinding Lights,” and an unbelievable performance of the extended version of “Bad.” Not to be left out is “With or Without You,” where the London crowd almost manages to drown out Bono on each chorus.
     Perhaps it was the fan voting, but U22 managed to separate the newer material from No Line On The Horizon and also allowed some of the best and most interesting songs to make it on the list instead of a regurgitated best hits. A great snapshot of not a single concert, but rather of an era, U22 defines the group in one of their peak eras in the same way that Rattle and Hum and Under a Blood Red Sky captured the group at their best. 

U2 & Hugh Maskela, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – Johannesburg, South Africa, 2/13/11

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