Band digs deep in encore concerts
By Greg Kot, Tribune music critic
In contrast to its four-show run at the United Center last May, when U2 was starting to sound like a highly competent but not particularly adventuresome junior version of the Rolling Stones, the Irish quartet was in friskier mood in two encore concerts last week.
U2 tossed aside the predictable set list and dug deep Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are some key differences between the shows last week and the ones last spring:
Then: The band doesn't make the case for its latest hit-and-miss album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The new songs are bunched together and dispatched early on, as if Bono and the boys didn't know how to integrate them into their performance.
Now: "Miracle Drug" (with the Edge's beautiful guitar figure getting some breathing room at the top) and "Original of the Species" (a killer soul ballad with falsetto harmonies) are showcased instead of buried. The arrangements are less fussy, the melodies more apparent. These are the kinds of moments that send skeptical fans rushing back to the album to hear these songs with fresh ears.