by Hugh Watson
I "discovered" U2 back in 1993 when I was invited to their Zooropa concert here by a friend who had a spare ticket. I have had an insatiable U2 appetite ever since - and so I have been checking out this awesome website on an almost daily basis after finding it in February, 1997. Actually, the first thing I want to do is congratulate and thank Matt McGee on the incredible amount of work he has put into the site - I've loved reading about the progress of the tour and monitoring the gradual changes in the set list over the past year. In particular, I've loved reading the fan reviews of the concerts because almost without fail, they have been irrepressibly positive. So much so, in fact, that the wait for PopMart to arrive in Sydney became absolutely excruciating.
When the night of the concert finally arrived I was scared that my expectations, raised so high by the rave reviews, would prove too high, and that after having waited so long, I would come away from a good, solid show unreasonably disappointed. My fears intensified with the rain and a crowd that seemed to be less charged than I remembered the crowd to have been before the start of the Zooropa concert. Of course, I should never have worried. The magic began when the rain stopped and the clouds lifted just as the band bounced through the crowd and onto the stage to "Popmuzik". The punters, though a little unsure of what to do during "Mofo" except make the appropriate appreciative noises at the end, proved my fears completely unfounded by erupting on the cue of the opening riffs of "I Will Follow".
Most of the the superlatives I want to use to describe the rest of the night have been used in the preceding reviews, so I won't recycle them. I'll just say that U2 are the consummate live performers - Bono and the fellas presented each song almost flawlessly. Most special was the immense emotional depth of "Bad" (you could see the pain etched in the lines of Bono's face as he sang to the on-stage camera like it was another person), "Please" (so much better - tortured and urgent - live than on the album), "MLK" (laced with yearning and sad irony) and "One" (as mentioned in the other reviews, made almost indescribably beautiful when PopMart was shut off and each member of the crowd was left feeling like they were alone with the rain, the thunder, the lightning and Bono's yearning voice). These were the highlights for me. When the stadium lights finally came up again, I was drenched, but so charged that I probably came close to electrocuting myself. I didn't want it to end, and neither did the rest of the crowd, which stayed rooted to the spot until their voices and the last strains of INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" were drowned out by the thunder. My final thought was that this must be U2's tour of this sort, as they couldn't possibly do it any better. Then again, I thought, I guess they won't try to do it better next time - they'll just do it competely differently (and in any case, it doesn't really matter what they do as long as they come here again!)