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

U2's first show in Philadelphia on Saturday night, May 14th, left me with almost an ambivalent feeling as the lights came up and I headed out into the parking lot. It was impossible not to remember the high I'd felt seventeen years earlier when I went to my first U2 concert. Then, as I'd left the Joshua Tree Tour, the audience singing the chorus of "40" practically carried us all outside the venue as if we were still walking on air generated by the band. Long after the boys had left the stage that night, we all sang, "How long..." until the cars were pulling away.

But this time, we needed Larry still beating the drums to keep the song going. I sensed in Larry a bit of frustration as our voices would die out as each band member left the stage. He paused before he did his big finish and then he too left. It was sort of, "Well, let's see what this lot is made of." A few voices tried to not disappoint him. But by the time Larry was gone, and the house lights up, the song had died out.

It was that kind of evening: a strange back and forth communication between the band and the audience. Each trying to see what the other was made of. Sometimes tentative, sometimes unsure. But also sometimes passionate and high energy.

The high of the night for me personally was in the song selection. I was in my element hearing "Running to Stand Still" and "An Cat Dubh" live. "Love and Peace or Else" also seemed particularly satisfying performed live. And the lighting was incredible. Loved the ellipse. Loved the words on-screen during the nostalgic "Zoo-TV" portion of the show. Loved Bono's clothing changes. So, from an artistic perspective, it was everything I could have expected. The Edge also didn't disappoint. Every time I think I've heard the best from him, he surprises me. And it was really fun to see Adam finally move from his appointed spot and walk around the ellipse to connect more with the audience.

The lows weren't enough to put too much of a damper on the show for me. The transitions from song to song were sometimes too long and awkwardly drawn out, and Bono didn't always seem as connected to us as I've seen him in the past. Maybe like Larry at the end he was flummoxed as to our apparent ambivalence. Whatever the reason, the audience and the band really never met more than 3/4 of the way for most of the set.

Yet for all its quirks and odd moments of stumbling, the show was still probably the hottest thing happening on the Eastern seaboard on Saturday night. I more than got my money's worth. And it's wet my appetite for their return on Sunday the 22nd. Here's hoping "Love and Peace" opens that show.

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