Amazing…Incredible…Stunning…Miraculous…Unbelievable…Breathtaking…oh and ‘muddy’…just a few of the words I heard used to describe one of the biggest events ever to hit the city, the province, all of Atlantic Canada.  The final stop of two years of touring, the culmination of the U2 360 Tour that started in June of 2009 in Barcelona, Spain…to end in Moncton, N.B. – Canada at one of the biggest events ever put on at the Magnetic Hill Music Festival.

U2 360 Tour Logo

When the show was confirmed back in January it completed six years, practically since the last note of the Rolling Stones ‘Bigger Bang Tour’ show in 2005, of wishing and waiting by fans, Facebook groups, letters to promoters, emails to the city, and just all around finger and toe crossing that one of the biggest groups of the last four decades would grace the ‘hill’.  So now, with the completion of this show, the end to the most financially successful tour of all time ($736M+), Magnetic Hill has seen five of the most successful touring acts of the last decade in The Rolling Stones, U2, AC/DC, Tim McGraw, and Bon Jovi…in the last six years.

Magnetic Hill Music Festival Logo

Concert goers woke early Saturday morning to a torrential downpour (guessing not many were up early enough to see that there actually was a ‘sunrise’ that morning) and many bought out local shops stock of rain ponchos, rubber boots, and rain gear (some even resorted to using shower curtains as rain ponchos).  It seemed as the day went on, it just rained harder and harder, those that had been on the Hill before knew what they were in for and were out in droves seeking ways to stay dry and warm.    As I made my way to the media checkpoint to be escorted into the site that afternoon I began to hear about the huge line-ups at the city’s newest creation the ‘park-and-ride’, a system of bussing people to the concert site from two predetermined off-site locations (more on that later).  As I was being escorted into the site by city officials and the RCMP with other media, I started to see some tweets that there was a problem at the main gate, only to hear later that someone had lost the keys to the padlock and a massive search was on for bolt cutters, crisis averted the main gate opened roughly an hour later than scheduled and the masses began to pour onto the still ‘grassy’ hill.

The "Claw" during the day "U2 360"

As we arrived at the media tent backstage I could tell that that ‘anticipatory buzz’ had started to take hold of the site, where everyone knew this was going to be a big day, check in time, stow your gear, get your media credentials, and wait.  I also started to get texts from friends that they had been in the ‘park-and-ride’ line-up for over an hour, that they were sure they would miss the first act (which they did) and they hoped they got there soon.   Around four-thirty the rain that had hampered us all day, that had since turned to a misty afternoon, came to a drizzly halt, and the clouds began to lighten somewhat.  Incidentally, from a report I got from a friend at the Greater Moncton International Airport, that was the exact time that Bono and his band mates stepped off their private plane (wow, I knew Bono was well connected but come on!).  As the sun broke through the clouds a little while later, the ever swelling crowd cheered and the promoter brought on the first of the day’s acts “Carney”.  Unfortunately, the media didn’t get their ‘three song’ jaunt to the stage for the opening act, so we resorted to listening to them from backstage.  The Los Angeles based band was impressive to say the least, I enjoyed their set quite a bit and found myself wishing that they had played longer than they did.  Equally impressive was their cover of the Queen Classic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which their attempt of surprised me and their achievement of satisfied me.


I look forward to hearing much more about and from these guys, they are a talented group that, at times, had a very Bono-esque sound to them.  Perhaps that’s why Reeve Carney was cast in the Broadway Musical, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, as Peter Parker/Spiderman, a musical that has music and lyrics composed by none other than Bono and The Edge!

As the media lingered backstage a rustle of the photographers became apparent as a security team came forward from backstage, I could see no reason for the commotion and then realized that ‘James Bond’ was standing in front of me, that is, Irish born actor Pierce Brosnan was being escorted into the VIP tent, then followed the premiere of New Brunswick, David Alward and the Mayor of Moncton, George Leblanc.  There had been reports of celebrity sitings and tweets of surprise visits flying around for days, Oprah, Brangelina, Clapton, Neil Young, BB King, Beyonce…only person I can confirm (and truly believe was there) that I saw with my own eyes (and have a picture of the back of his head) was 007.

We were then all rustled up and marched, soldier style, out to the media platform just inside the main barricade (by the foot of the left front claw) for the start of the next act, Montreal’s “Arcade Fire”.   This indie band from Montreal, can we even still call them ‘indie’ anymore, I mean, they’ve won a Grammy Award for crying out loud (2011 Album of The Year)!   A lot of people had never heard of Arcade Fire prior to their Grammy win, a ‘lot’ had and they are strong and dedicated fans, and I can see why.  One of the reasons I can see is for some of the things they do, not only did they play at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth a few short days earlier, but they dove into “Sappyfest” (indie music festival in nearby Sackville, NB) under the pseudonym “Shark Attack” and rocked the crowd there just hours before fronting U2 on the Hill.  That gains respect by fans, by critics, and by reviewers like yours truly!

Arcade Fire's - Win Butler - Magnetic Hill Music Festival

Arcade Fire's - Regine Chassagne - Magnetic Hill Music Festival

Arcade fire sports many musician who play many instruments, none quite like Regine Chassagne who even plays the ‘hurdy gurdy’ live on stage, she started the show on the drums, and at one point had an accordian in her hands…all the while sporting a golden dress that was brilliant enough to be seen far and wide even without help of the giant video screen…perhaps it was a sun substitute on the rainy and cloudy day.  I really enjoyed Arcade Fire and would definitely recommend their upbeat, energetic live performance to all of you.

With AF coming to an end everyone’s excitement began to build, they all knew what came next, what the majority of them had come to see was about to happen.  The ‘claw’ was about to stir to life, this powerful mother ship beast of a stage was about to awake from it’s slumber and join in on the performance.  As “Dallas” (U2’s guitar technician) finished getting the Edge’s guitars prepped, as the crowd packed in around the enormous feet of the claw that pierced the earth like it wanted to tear the wet muddy soil out in it’s grip, there came a massive roar from above.  Two Canadian Forces CF-18’s roared over the crowd and after they got over the shock of the jet’s enormous sound, the crowd roared back in appreciation.  With a circle of the Hill, and a couple more fly overs…the jet’s were gone…and everyone knew what came next.

Canadian Forces CF-18 flyover

Then it happened the years of wishing, the months of waiting, the days of anticipation were all about to come to an end…two solid years of touring, that saw 18 births, two marriages, and 8 separations among it’s crew.  The mothership was landing for the final time, the claw was coming to grab you in it’s final grip, the U2 360 Tour was about to come to an end…but not before one more gargantuan show.  Then it happened, the monstrous claw began to breathe, it’s expelled it’s breath in a cloud of white smoke, instead of fear it sparked cheers, roars of appreciation and excitement and the final stop on the 360 Tour was about to begin.  Those watching closely could see the band walking from back stage on the video screen and as Larry Mullin emerged and sat at his drums the crowd erupted, and the night was pieced by the familiar sound of the Edge’s guitar pulsating out “Even Better Than The Real Thing” (and I began snapping pictures like a mad man)!

The Claw comes to life - U2 360 Tour - Final Night!

U2 was a band I’d always wanted to see, since the days of “War”, and “October”, since Rattle & Hum, and Joshua Tree, since Sunday Bloody Sunday, but I never thought I’d get the opportunity…but here they were, in all their splendor, finalizing a record setting world tour in the city I live in…and Bono burst onto the stage.  Check another one of those ‘must see live’ bands off my list.
During the first three songs us media guys were in a bit of a frenzy snapping pictures like lunatics as we only get the first three songs to capture what we can from our special vantage point, so I barely heard, “Even Better Than The Real Thing”, “The Fly”, and “Mysterious Ways” but was certainly paying attention during the third song as The Edge made his way to us on the runway.

The Edge - U2 360 Tour Final Show - Moncton, NB Canada

Then like before we were marched off like good little soldiers to the backstage area to find our various vantage points from which to watch the show, I found several as you’ll not from my pictures to follow.  There were so many pleasing moments in this show, from hearing Bono say “Moncton…a town of Monks” (I know that’s silly but it was still cool), to watching the band soak in the vibrating excitement from the crowd on this final night.  A special moment was when Bono, acapella, sang a brief verse of the “Ballad of Springhill about the 1958 Springhill mining disaster that the band pulled out of mothballs due to the close proximity to the small Nova Scotia town.

Bono & Adam - U2 360 Tour Final Night - Moncton, NB Canada - July 30/2011

One of my person favorite moments was when Astronaut Mark Kelly flashed a prerecorded message on the giant video screen, actually mentioning “Moncton”, and popping floating words into the air and spelling out “Beautiful Day” which the band then played.  Also as part of this, midway through the song Kelly spoke the lyric “tell my wife I love her – she knows” which has special meaning as he is husband to gunshot victim US Republican Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Amazing addition to an already amazing show.

ISS Astronaut Mark Kelly

With a multitude of special moments, the bands biggest hit of the last decade “Vertigo” highlighting the elongation of the giant video screen to the stage and almost touching the band, to hearing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” live, to watching Bono swing around on his neon lit ‘steering wheel’ microphone…the night was filled with almost too many special moments to write about.

U2 360 Tour Final Night - The Giant Video Screen Extends!

Champagne was uncorked, “Hallelujah” was sung to raucous cheers, “Where The Streets Have No Name” encored us into the night and with the final song “40” (which the band probably had to look up the lyrics of this old gem from 1983’s ‘War’), where the Edge and Adam Clayton swap instruments and one by one the band shuts it down, until only Larry Mullin is the only one on the stage still playing (fitting as he was the first one on the stage in Barcelona).  Larry walks to the front of the stage, takes the microphone and says “We’ll Miss You…Goodnight”…and joins his band mates who wait for him at the rear of the stage for one final exit.  Thus ended the most successful tour of all time, with one of the largest crews, and certainly one of the biggest stages.

U2 360 Tour Final Night - Moncton, NB - Canada - July 30/2011

So came the end of another massive concert, successfully on the “hill”, to all those responsible we thank-you…to U2, Arcade Fire, Carney, DKD, Live Nation, City Of Moncton, and any others that made this event happen.  Yes there were glitches, the ‘park-and-ride’ didn’t work quite as well as expected but hopefully like everything else with the Magnetic Hill Music Festival, over time the Park-and-Ride system sees vast improvements.  The torrential downpours all day led to a massively muddy field (to those complaining…really?) but the promoters can’t do much about that.  Fun was had by one and all in the long run (even those that brought new born babies to the concert which I personally think is touching on insanity), even I bet by Mark Pinkerton who was there in Barcelona in 2009 when U2 started it all and he was here in Moncton to finish it with them.  So to one and all I say thank-you for a great time…and what’s next!?

Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Ballad of Springhill, Stay, Beautiful Day – Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Discotheque, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On

Encore(s): One, Hallelujah – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender, Out of Control, 40

5 / 5

  1. And they said to me they never give media credentials to blogs…!

    • refrainmusic says:

      There was a very small media contingent and ‘refrain’ has begun to try and step into the more mainstream media, we are not there by any means and have a long way to go but we are trying. We are very appreciative of our acceptance into the media contingent and know that all approvals were done by tour officials. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. […] l’enclos, avant la fouille, pendant une autre demi-heure. (MAJ : Je viens d’apprendre via ce gars là que c’était parce qu’ils avaient perdu les clefs de la gate qu’on a attendu comme […]

  3. AndreaM says:

    Excellent recap of the show! 🙂 Love the pictures too.