by Ryan McNeil
"Some have said that we're selling our souls with this tour. We're selling our MUSIC, not our souls-we're giving those away for free."
Bono's words couldn't have been more true as POPMART rolled out of Toronto after a two night stint.
As the band shadowboxed its way to the stage, a sight now as notorious as Mr. MacPhisto, it was clear to all that something explosive was about to happen. The band didn't disappoint, tearing through numbers like "Mofo", "I Will Follow" and "Gone" with the intensity needed to reach the furthest person in the stadium with as much effect as the one in the front row.
Although it wasa treat for the senses, it took "New Years Day" to really connect with the majority of the crowd, no doubt there more for the U2 they knew from the eighties. Once the fire was lit under them, the crowd belonged to the band. Knowing this, U2 turned us into a gospel choir to give "Pride" the kind of passion it deserves.
One of the more memorable moments was the segue into "Stand By Me", which Bono started, and then let the crowd take over. However when most of couldn't remember the second verse, Bono called on The Edge to take the lead, and lead he did, with the voice that most of us almost never get to hear on its own.
By far, the most beautiful and memorable moment, was the singing of "I Still haven't Found What I'm Looking For". The band began the number at a slower tempo than usual, and watched as the crowd took it over, all the while watching the stadium become a cathedral of lighters. Bono decided to try and explain the whole idea of the tour to the audience: "A lot of people have asked us what this tour is all about.....f--k I don't know!"
The acoustic set didn't disappoint, "Desire" and "Staring At the Sun" were perfect.
d again the Edge took the lead. But this time, for a rarely played "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
As the band went back to the full stage it the tempo flexed between heartfelt and breakneck through "Miami", "Bullet The Blue Sky", "Please" and "Where The Streets Have No Name".
The first encore was entirely all it was cracked up to be. No matter how many articles you read, or how many tv shows you watch, nothing fully prepares you for the sight of four Irish lads emerging from a 40 ft. lemon. Bono was in top form as these three songs had as much punch as the first three and turned many sections of the floor into dance floors for couples during "With Or Without You".
Finally as the familiar MacPhisto logo appeared on the huge screen, the band was ready for its last punch.
Perhaps one of most sincere songs of night, was the last one as the band started into "One". The soulful music and the beautiful images of Keith Haring on the screen assured every fan there, that U2 were still about the music and not the money. "Unchained Melody" closed the evening, and when everyone there took in the show, they had to admit- this band was still very real.
Tickets for these two shows went on sale in April. Five months seems like an awfully long time to wait for a rock concert. But in the case of POPMART, it was worth every day.