by Michael Muratore
Wow. The only word that really describes the spectacle that is POPMART. This was my second chance to see U2 this tour, the first time in Pittsburgh. The stage is fantastic, a giant art/sarcasm combo that only U2 could pull off. For any U2 fan who hasn't seen it yet, buy a ticket! Even if you have to drive 250 miles in a steady rain and horrible traffic (bad enough to gain a comment from Bono during the show) IT IS WELL WORTH IT!
Even though I saw the same band play on the same stage two times on the same tour, I really witnessed two different concerts. Form the stage entry (in Pitt. they came out of the B stage, circled through the crowd to the stage's steps while in Detriot they walked the length of the arena), to the setlist (Pitt: If God Will Send..., Miami, electric Staring..., Detroit: Desire, All I Want Is You, Staring acoustic duet) to the finale (Pitt: One/Unchained, Detroit: One/Wake Up...). Even some of the screen graphics were different.
Yet the greatest difference... of which U2 is not to blame...The sound. I have decided that it is impossible to make anything sound great under a dome. Smashmouth's set was completely incomprehendable, as were some of U2's more cluttered numbers (Mofo, Even Better..., Last Night...). It just sounded better under the stars. U2's already echoed and harmonious sound is somewhat dampened "under the teflon sky".
My only other complaint of the Detroit show is with the playing of the Please/Where the Streets Have No Name transition. In Pitt., Please drained off into a steady pitch as the organ intro to Where the Streets... rose behind it. At the same time the word "Please" written acrossed the screen slowly faded red. It gave me chills. In Detroit, Bono repeated "Please...Please..." over and over until Edge bgan the main riff to Where the Streets Have No Name.
Still, I've never seen any performer work the crowd like Bono. As an audience member, you almost feel as though he was talking at one point directly to you. It's really amazing. Edge got to deliver the "Welcome to Popmart" adress usually reserved for the frontman ( Bono was in a wardrobe change).
Overall, both of the shows were fantastic. Bono seemed to have a better connection to the crowd in Detroit, but the again, who can connect with Pittsburgh? The sound was better at Three Rivers, but the Silverdome crowd and setlist made that the better show. If I could afford to fly to Seattle, I'd see it again in a heart beat.