U2’s “Experience + Innocence” tour was more than a concert. It was more like a futuristic church sermon with the band’s chart-topping rock hits as the soundtrack. It was an experience.
A 100-foot-long LED screen/wall hovered above a runway connecting two stages at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center on Saturday, May 19. The screen was not only a surface for multimedia pyrotechnics; it was also a floating stage with multiple levels where the band would walk and perform.
Concertgoers were advised to download the band’s AR eXPERIENCE App (“AR” is short for “augmented reality”). The app brought supplemental special effects to smartphones pointed at the screen. Before the concert started, a waterfall poured into a whirlpool in the middle of the ground-level crowd. When U2 began playing, a gigantic Bono avatar popped from the screen.
The real Bono rose into the air on a platform, and over the course of the concert, the LED wall transformed into a movable feast of U2’s narrative with animation, historical footages, newsreels, and local Omaha scenes woven together. It was a powerful medium for U2’s message of world peace, unity, and women’s empowerment.
Aerial footage of the Omaha metro at night played on the screen when the band performed “City of Blinding Lights,” and the sight of the Wooden Tower, Gene Leahy Mall, and downtown seemed 3D in the moving display. After giving lots of love to Omaha, Bono eventually gave a shout-out to Susie Buffett (a personal friend of Bono’s and board member of his global campaign and advocacy organization ONE).
If concertgoers didn’t know of Bono’s humanitarian advocacy before the show in Omaha, they do now. The U2 frontman called for support to ONE’s latest movement, “Poverty is Sexist,” and he promoted the hashtag #womenoftheworldtakeover on screen.
U2 ended the show with a special dedication to the shooting victims at Santa Fe High School. In the band’s encore—only one day after America’s latest tragic school shooting—Bono introduced the song “13” from Songs of Experience: “The next song is a lullaby which we dedicate to the kids at Santa Fe High, and we sing it as a prayer of safety for all your children tonight.”
The concert featured songs mostly from their Songs of Experience album, but the band also played classic hits including “One,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” “Vertigo,” “Acrobat,” and “Staring at the Sun.”