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by Chris

This was my fourth U2 show, after being a die-hard fan since 1995. I was thrilled with PopMart, and absolutely blown away by the Minneapolis Elevation show in 2000. The Vertigo show last night was a disappointment, however.

There were some highlights of the show, but Bono's raw voice left me feeling I received a raw deal. It was heartbreaking to watch Bono struggle through most of the songs, and although this in itself engendered sympathy from a supportive, enthused and loving audience, it was still an unfortunate sour note that plagued nearly every song. It wasn't just that we knew he was struggling, it was that we could tell *he* knew, and that it was consciously effecting how he connected with us.

City of Blinding Lights was the show opener, as I had hoped for. What I thought were mic problems in the first few notes turned out to be Bono struggling to hit all the notes, struggling to have his usual strong vocal presence.

The hoarseness of his voice, and his frustration, seemed to undermine his legitimacy in carrying the audience forward, seemed to present too great an obstacle in effectively create the unparalleled connection that turns arena into tabernacle. It was for this reason that the band didn't sell me completely on Vertigo.

Elevation began with a humorous and cruisey rapport with a fan brought up on stage. It was neat to hear the band start into Elevation that way, to be reminded that Bono might be pink and rosy, but he's got soul. Passion alone doesn't make a song, though, and the band was without their voice for most of that song, too.

What fan wouldn't be thrilled when the band launched into The Electric Co?? What a treat to hear, especially with the infamous Send in The Clowns snippet - I didn't think U2 would feature the latter, after the trouble they went through for singing it at Red Rocks so many years ago. It must be easier for U2 to get permission to work others' work into their setlists ;)

The Ocean - as soon as I heard they were delving into Boy more during this tour, I had hoped to be treated to that song. Bono did something that's been neat in the past- giving the audience a taste of U2's early years, what it was like to sell themselves to record companies, to promote themselves while not compromising what they believe in. "We're a band from north Dublin...we're called U2".

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For was soulful and one of Bono's better songs that night. A big part of me was hoping they'd be able to integrate the gospel version off of Rattle & Hum, using the audience in place of the Harlem Choir.

Beautiful Day was great, I'm glad that gem made its way into last night's performance. The lighting and overall visual aspects were better during the Elevation tour, though, with the lights being cut and then bright house lights coming on during the first chorus refrain. Many Rivers to Cross was a nice treat.

Bono showed venue-consciousness with his comments about Mayo Clinic, while on the cusp of Miracle Drug. The song is a powerful one, but its energy was lost on Bono missing his cue once or twice, and the opportunity to really hit the "yeahhhhh"s and "whoaaa"s wasn't realized by Bono or the rest of the band.

I had a feeling Bono would redeem himself with Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own. I'm still not sure if I was right, though. It was with this song that Bono missed his cues the most, not syncing his vocals with the Edge's. Whene Bono hit the trademark note at the climax of the song, in that vulnerable and tender moment, I saw a man pouring out his soul to all who would listen. Not because we came to hear him do it, but because he needed to do it. In that moment, he struggled to maintain a note, but the torrent of emotion unleashed needed anything but consistency. The spotlight was on Bono, he was on all four monitors above the band, and he was larger-than-life. In that moment, and a few others throughout the night, he succeeded in making the audience and band one.

Love and Peace or Else had a great intro, with the sound of jet planes roaring overhead. A passionate performance there, ending with Bono on the drums.

Sunday Bloody Sunday was great, but not the best I've seen or heard. When played during the Elevation tour, it did a better job of connecting with the audience ("...If you're the praying kind, turn this song into a prayer"). The song, and other classics, *did* do a job of revving up the crowd, but that's a minor point, since U2 would never want to be known for solely performing classics every night.

I always heard that Bullet the Blue Sky wasn't performed the same this tour as it had been in tours past, that it wasn't as intense, politically or musically. I agree. I think Bono's political statements during this song and others was thought-provoking, but why not clarify it for all the people totally unfamiliar with that type of political message during their concerts?

Miss Sarajevo. Miss Sarajevo. I don't know what to say. I'm a fan of Passengers: Original Soundtracks One. Hearing and seeing Bono perform Pavarotti's part in the song was amazing; showcasing his versatility, his passion, his (and the band's) willingness to explore new sounds, exploring the ways music binds us all together. His speech beforehand, the performance, and the piece on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was wonderful. The drunkard or two in the audience (muttering mind-numbing things like "what is this shit???") infuriated me, but they can go fuck themselves, because they'll never get it. With that song, and moments like it on the concert, U2 fulfilled its contract with me, and other fans who have unconditionally supported them through several rough patches.

Pride had the same effect of as Sunday Bloody Sunday, and was great to experience. U2 should play this song in every live show.

The segue between Pride and ...Streets was good, but ...Streets itself paled in comparison to the experience in past tours, particularly with the light show, the anticipation, and of course, Bono running around the stage during the middle of the song :)

I was disappointed in One. The idea of having people support your cause through text messaging (and the wonderful visual effect of a sea of neon green it creates) is wonderful, but the song itself wasn't anywhere as good as the three tours before it. Bono's voice was failing, and there weren't the emotional lines at the end of the song that have made it even better through the years ("Do you hear me comin', love? Hear me call?" etc). It seemed like a watered-down version of One. The snippet Ol' Man River was well-performed, though.

The First Time was great to hear, I love that song. I wonder if it would have been more effective with some synth and more bass, though? It was still wonderful that they played it.

Who's Gonnna Ride Your Wild Horses? I had heard rumors of it on previous shows, but wasn't sure I believed they'd do it. Great song, impassioned performance.

I think they need to exclude With or Without You from all future performances, unless the song is reworked for Bono's singing. His voice was hoarse and strained, and he seemed genuinely upset he couldn't sing parts of the song properly, couldn't adorn the end of the song with the falsetto trimmings he wanted. I don't think I was imagining things when I (and everyone I was with) saw him make a "smoking" gesture briefly after faltering on the end of the song, indicating he had grievously affected his career with smoking (I know the drinking hasn't helped, either).

I knew they wouldn't leave our fair metro area without performing All Because of You. It was nice to hear the song, but I had already been soured by With or Without You, and it would have taken an unbelievable U2 moment or two to restore my faith in them last night.

Don't get me wrong, I loved that Crumbs From Your Table was played in Minneapolis. For the most part, it was well-performed. I had hoped that Bono's voice would return in a tour de force, and vanquish any misgivings I had before then.

Yahweh was the penultimate song that night. It was nice, it had great visuals. I just wish they performed it with more backing effects- I didn't like the stripped down version. It did have a very sweet ending, though. Bono sang "take this heart, and keep it safe", instead of "...and make it break". That was touching.

With the encore of Vertigo, I felt they were making one last attempt at grabbing a connection with the audience that was never fully there in the first place. Since they played a toned-down version of Yahweh just prior to the encore of Vertigo, I thought it would have been more prudent to play 40.

All in all, there seemed to be trouble forging a special connection with the audience, made worse by U2 failing to find the voice they needed, the one they have had so many times before.

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