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U2 Tours (formerly part of AtU2): A Comprehensive Guide To U2’s Live Performance History
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by walkon274

I like to think I'm a pretty un-biased person when it comes to analyzing music, sports, athletes, books, etc.. A buddy and I drove from Pittsburgh to Philly yesterday to catch U2. It was his first time catching them and my third time seeing them. Needless to say, our expectations were really high. We were able to get GA tickets and, fortunately, my buddy and I got inside the ellipse.

Here is my review:


1. U2 are not the nice, happy, "love everyone" band they seemed to be on Elevation. I felt much more of a dark, Achtung Baby-type feel. They came out loud, heavy, and very straighforward...all business. I always get crap from the Metallica fans or the Guns and Roses types who say U2 aren't rock. I always kind of agreed and thought U2 was more poppy than most rock bands. Last night, however, they made Velvet Revolver or the White Stripes or Metallica look like kittens.

2. Bono is turning back into the Fly, which I think is awesome. Here is this 5' 6" guy acting like a total rock god. He came out not from behind the stage with everyone else, but at the tip of the ellipse with the coolest look on his face. Through the first 5 songs, he seemd really pumped up, almost angry. He was almost taking on the crowd, screaming at us in the ellipse to get up. He threw water on all of us and seemed to get in a row with some yuppie who disliked the H2O he received.

3. I had some reservations about the performance after reading reviews, but last night, they were DEAD ON. Anyone reading this, don't believe what you hear about Bono's voice. He may have off nights, but last night, that dude hit nearly every damn high note WHILE crawling on the catwalk, running around, and screaming like a complete maniac. He also did not flub up any major lyrics. He nailed "Sometimes." He was hitting the chorus to "The Fly" a la ZooTv Sydney. Likewise, the Edge was mean and angry. He played "Bullet" heavy. "Zoo Station" along with "The Electric Co." also blew my mind. Finally, Larry and Adam were very tight. This is definitely a different band than the one you hear in the San Diego bootlegs. Personally, they sounded tighter tonight than they did at the Elevation show I was at.

4. Their use of the catwalk seems to have picked up. There were times when I didn't know who to keep my eyes on. Adam did a few laps, the Edge jammed out on the left side a number of times, and Larry got into it at the tip during Love and Peace. Finally, Bono walked, laid down, and rocked like a baby literally on the catwalk. He also did some hand tricks for this little blonde girl before taking her and another girl for a walk around the ellipse.

5. The setlist, I thought, rocked. Of course, this was my first show this tour and I refused to look at any setlists so I was seeing the show fresh which helped. I keep hearing about COBL and ABOY and how the old songs lack intensity. I didn't not see any of this in Philly. COBL turned out to be a pretty decent opener and ABOY sounded heavy to me. Also, the old songs sounded very urgent (SBS, Pride). My only problems with the setlist are discussed below.


1. Vertigo - This song rocked until almost the end when Bono seemed to attempt to stretch the song out and fit a variation into it. He was on the right side of the ellipse and kept trying to get the band's attention to change it into a breakdown beat with only Larry, but Edge kept jamming away. Needless to say, Bono looked like a sitting duck for about 30 seconds before finally giving up and launching into "yeah, yeah, yeah,....." at th end.

2. An Cat Dubh - While I like the chorus and you can chang along, 2 problems. First, the song slowed down an otherwise upbeat beginning to the concert. Second, half the people there (at least in the ellipse) don't know this song and just stood there clueless.

3. Yes, I was lucky to get into the ellipse off the lottery system after only waiting in line for an hour. However, I still hate it. I got to know a few diehards who had traveled to see this band in Ireland 15 years ago or who had travelled to Philly from Bolivia who all got screwed from where they deserved to be and where they should have been. Half the people I was surrounded by were old wealthy couples who had no energy or enthusiasm whatsoever. The other half was made up of superficial young women or dudes who seemed to care less that they were where they were. Out of the 400 in the ellipse, I'd say 150 were into it (i.e. actually jumping around, shouting back at Bono, etc.)

4. Bono's politiking before "Streets" and "One." While I'm all for Africa, the crowd (more importantly Americans) just didn't seem to get it at all. It seemed a little awkward. I think the push for Africa needs to be done not by a speech from Bono, but by graphics on the screen during the songs or at desks other than Amnesty outside of the stadium.

Overall, though, U2 last night proved to me that no one in the world is better at putting on a SHOW right now. I don't know what people on here and other sites have complained about. Perhaps the band was off at the shows some of you have seen. Also, perhaps me not knowing too much about the show allowed me to view it from a sense of spontaneity. Nevertheless, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief throughout the show. If ZooTV or the Joshua Tree tours were so much better for you old-timers, than I am jealous b/c I left last night wondering how a concert could be any better.

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