Saturday was a special day, set apart by the music gods in order that this latent blogger might enjoy the very best in big-name live music: first at 1pm, U2 3D at the Imax theatre at Irvine Spectrum, then at 5pm, Garth Brooks live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

U2 3DU2 3D is incredible. It’s a revolution, using digital 3D technology to create a concert film entirely unlike any I’ve seen before. It’s completely immersive. As one reviewer said, being there wouldn’t have been any better. I turned around at one point halfway through to see the rest of the audience, the 3D glasses on their faces reflecting the imagery on this giant screen, 200 of them sitting there spellbound by the experience: there was no popcorn crunching and running to the bathroom, they were absorbed. They looked like they’d been all been brainwashed by some powerful cult. And that may not have been far from the truth. What the technology did, you see, was to captivate the audience by plunging them into Bono’s world, in which rock music is a compelling, emotive message about justice and peace and human rights and love and America and equality. It almost turned me into a fucking socialist, to be honest. I had to pull the glasses off my face and shake off the impact of The Edge’s sweeping, ringing guitar and Bono’s voice of perfect, righteous anger which were filling the room as though I were standing in that stadium in Buenos Aires myself. It was intoxicating. And it reminded me of just how good U2 still are. The guys are as great as they ever were, in the 80s, the 90s – they’ve lost nothing – and the sound is heavy and filling and fantastic. Maybe that alone explains the film’s 94 percent consensus rating on, though I suspect the means by which the audience is reminded why U2 are one of the greatest rock acts of all time may play the most significant part, and may actually herald a revolution in this kind of filmmaking. In any case, U2 3D is not to be missed: on Imax or on normal cinema – whatever you can get, take it. You’ll come out a militant communist, but at least you’ll enjoy the process.

Garth BrooksIf you were watching CBS on Friday night, you’ll already have seen part of the event I was lucky enough to appreciate in person only hours after my near-Bonoising experience at the Imax in Irvine. Garth Brooks: Live in LA was a response to the California wildfires last October, in which Brooks broke Staples Center records by selling out 5 benefit concerts in less than an hour, and in which he became the first performer in US history to play those 5 concerts in only 2 days: two on Friday and three on Saturday. The first of these was telecast live to America by the CBS network, and the run is expected to have raised over $10 million for firefighting in California. You can imagine, then, that Garth should have been truly knackered by the time I got there, for the second out of three shows that day, that the show would be short and sweet, that his voice would be shot, that the energy would be hard to find. Not so: Brooks’ talent is in giving 110 percent when lesser performers would find it a stretch to be there at all. He gave a good, hard two hours and fifteen minutes, with two encores and a lot of raw energy and spirit. Memorable: wife Trisha Yearwood making an appearance for their duet In Another’s Eyes and an impromptu freestyle rendering of Squeeze Me In. After Brooks’ encore, he came back on stage saying that he had just met one of the Staples Center’s concession stand workers, a woman named Alva, who’d asked him what it’s like to be in front of all those thousands of people. “Wanna find out?” he responded, and promptly brought her on stage, overwhelmed and shaking, before giving her his trademark cowboy hat and doing a final song hatless, shirt untucked, with Alva watching from the side of the stage. In short: one hell of a show. It’s nice to think that Brooks is still young enough to come back full-time someday, and bring his juggernaut of a stadium act to new places and greater heights. Meantime, watch out: he’s itching to play these ‘one-off’ shows, and there’s every chance you won’t have to wait that long to see the biggest-selling solo act in the world live and in person.