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by Matt McGee

After reading years and years worth of comments and reviews of opening night shows -- and hearing enough of them on tape -- I was real curious about what would happen in Vegas. And when it was all over, I wasn't disappointed: U2 put on a good show, but not a great show.

It was great to see them again -- 4-plus years is too long. Note to band: don't let it happen again.

I was completely surprised by the entrance via the B-stage, and completely tickled to see Bono show up in a boxer's satin cape with the big POP Mart arch on the back! Adam's get-up was a riot -- love the orange, nuclear-reservation outfit, dude, keep it up! Edge came out in cowboy regalia, and Larry ... well, Larry looked like Larry.

The music -- when it worked -- was great! MOFO sounded good, and the lighting for it was incredible! I Will Follow was good, but I'd like to hear the whole song. They didn't bother with the mid-section -- "Your eyes make a circle" -- at all. The song is short enough as it is, and without that part, the new version barely clocked in at over 2 minutes. Even though I heard what was essentially a "dry-run" at the rehearsals the night before, I'm still surprised by the mix of songs. Unlike the Zoo TV tour (when they started each show with 7-8 new songs), the band went back and forth from new to old and back again all night long. It was enjoyable, but I think it may have taken away from what the band is trying to say with the POP Mart theme. Pride sounded good, and Where the Streets ... is still my all-time favorite song!

The new songs were a mixed bag. I thought the Last Night On Earth/Gone combo sounded great! Miami is a song that I can't listen to on the album, but it came across very good in the live setting. And Please completely blew me away ..... .... the medley from that, to a couple beats of Sunday, Bloody Sunday ... into Streets ... amazing. I can die now. ON THE OTHER HAND, Staring At The Sun was a complete disaster, as other reviewers have pointed out. It started out great with Bono soloing on acoustic guitar -- anyone who thinks Bono can't play guitar needs only to hear this song. Bono carried the whole thing, and NOTE TO BAND: let Bono do this song solo acoustically, just like he did All I Want Is You a few times on the Zoo TV tour. If God Will Send His Angels and If You Wear That Velvet Dress did nothing for me; I don't think they're very good concert songs. Let's drop them from the set list. Discotheque sounded good, and would've been a lot better, but Edge had all kinds of guitar problems.

Speaking of those problems, Edge's guitar also acted up during With Or Without You, which made for a real frustrating night. Bono's voice broke a couple times as it typically does on opening nights, and I'm sure the dry, desert wind he'd been breathing for 10 days didn't help. I'm also sure the marathon rehearsals only made things worse on his vocal chords. But as you'd expect, he gave it his all ... amen, brother!

The hero of the show -- and probably will be of the whole tour -- was Willie Williams. The stage is a sight to behold, and the lighting/video/etc. is phenomenal! During Bullet the Blue Sky, 14 skylights shot up into the air and formed a single point of light -- amazing to see! It's a different kind of visual experience than Zoo Tv was. I think Zoo Tv was a lot more aggressive in its visuals, whereas this show was more subtle. I didn't feel blown away by the visuals, but I was still amazed. Hope that makes sense!

Bottom line: they had problems like they always do on opening nights, but it was still a good show. And if nothing else, they left me very curious to see how this show will develop. I can't want for June 8th to get here, and for me to get to Philly!

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