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04 September 2009

Trip to London to catch U2!

By Han Sen

I couldn’t believe it when I got the call that I won tickets to see U2 in London! I’m usually unlucky when it comes to stuff like that but this one takes the cake! Big thanks to Mix FM! :) And so the planning began and the possibilities were endless. I have never been to UK or Europe before so I took this opportunity to explore that continent. In the end, I settled on covering London, Paris Barcelona & Madrid. As AirAsia was one of the sponsors of this trip, naturally we all flew AirAsia X from LCCT to Stansted in London. I had my doubts before this, you know, having to fly 14 hours on a budget airline, in my mind, would be painful. But to my pleasant surprise, the seats were rather comfortable and spacious, even for a 6 footer like me. My only complaint is the entertainment system for rent. There were only so few to go around and half of it was broken!

We arrived on time and we took the stansted express train into London. The hotel we stayed at is called St Giles Hotel. Just situated above Tottenham Court Rd’s tube stop, the hotel is really central, which is perfect for travelers! Because of the convenient location, I managed to walk to areas like Leister Square, Oxford Circus, SOHO and Covent Garden. Most of the other attractions are just a few stops away on the tube from here. But I like to walk and sort of get lost in the city, I feel like its the best way to explore it! On the second day, I think I walked in a total of 9 hours with a break for lunch and a stop for coffee! My feet were hurting at the end of the day but it was well worth it!

On the 14th, this was the first of two concerts that U2 will be performing at the new Wembley stadium. I’ve been a U2 fan since I was 13 and I’ve seen them live 4 times across the globe but U2@ Wembley is definitely one of the best to catch! As I walked into the stadium, I was amazed by the scale of “The Claw” stage that they built for the tour. With the installation of a wrap-around state-of-the-art screen, U2 is set to provide a 360 degree experience, hence the title “360 Tour” The opening acts were The Hours & Elbow. Both very good bands but a little too emo and mellow for my liking especially when they are suppose to hype up the crowd. But once U2 took the stage, everyone was on their feet. Bono and Co. kicked it off with new material from their “No Line On the Horizon” album before dishing out old classics like Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday. Pride & Streets Have ho Name. There was such great energy in the atmosphere and the crowd was giving just as much as the band. We literally sang HALF of Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For!!! I was thoroughly surprised that they brought back The unforgettable Fire, a song they haven’t performed since the 80s! Another treat for me was “Ultraviolet”, one of my fav tracks off the “Achtung Baby” album which i’ve never heard live. Bono, with his usual theatrics, came out in the dark wearing a suit mounted with tons of LED lights, hanging onto a swinging mike! You can always count on Bono to put on a show,hehe. Before you know it, everyone was chanting along With Or Without You and the band closed the show with Moment of Surrender. Among the 5 U2 shows I have been to, this one definitely tops the list.

London is a wonderful city to be in, especially during summer. So much to do and see. I must say I managed to cover most of the touristy stuff but I think my favorite moments were walking along Thames River, picnic at Regent Park, visiting Tate Modern Museum, Greenwich and all the good times I shared with my friends in London! This will definitely not be the last time I visit London.