Out Of Control, Twilight, An Cat Dubh, Into The Heart, Surrender, Two Hearts Beat As One, Seconds, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Cry, The Electric Co., I Fall Down, October, New Year's Day, I Threw A Brick Through A Window, A Day Without Me, Gloria. Encore(s): Party Girl, 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, 40.
This concert was recorded and released as "U2 Live At Red Rocks: Under A Blood Red Sky". Opening band, The Alarm, were scheduled to play but their set was cancelled due to the rainy weather.
Contemporary Christian magazine, May 31, 1983
U2 Rocks 'n' Rivers Rolls
by Devlin Donaldson
In the minds of many people, U2 is a controversial band. They have not hesitated to take their politics into the rock 'n' roll arena, and to most that is a desecration of what good-time rock 'n' roll is all about. Nor have they hesitated to attack the performance of their music with the same passion and belief with which they approach life. Some believers feel that their powerful delivery invalidates the message that they communicate. Some wonder if there is even a message being communicated other than arrogance and pride.
U2 has opted for a career in secular music rather than one as a Christian band. In fact, not all the members of the band are Christians. To many, this means that somewhere along the line the Christians have compromised their faith.
Secular magazines have talked about U2's "É..private brand of ChristianityÉ.." - which spells liberal to many conservative believers. But after seeing U2 in concert on two consecutive evenings, I think this band deserves a closer look, not just the flak that they have been receiving from many Christians.
U2 performed June 5 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver and June 6 in Boulder, Colorado. To see Bono Vox lead U2 through a 90-minute set is to feel that you have been let in on a big secret that everyone else will soon know. U2 is destined to be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles, the Who, and the Rolling Stones.
Obviously, most of U2's fans are not believers. Their talent has carried them into realms that few other Christians have been able to enter, and they have not yet alienated their non-Christian audience with lengthy sermons. After all, the gospel is offensive, right?
Before anyone can criticise U2, it is absolutely necessary that he/she attend a U2 concert. It is true that U2 doesn't preach, but that does not mean a message is not communicated. Many of the songs U2 performs in concert are extremely political and message orientated. "Surrender" talks about suicide, but it includes the lyrics "If I want to live, I've got to die to myself someday". In fact, Bono ended "Surrender" by carrying a white flag into the audience and leading a chant, "No more! No War!".
They sing about their commitment to God in "I Will Follow", their first hit off the first album, Boy. They praise God and offer their lives to Him in "Gloria," singing "O Lord, if I have anything at all, I give it to you".
Not once during a U2 show do you hear the normal concert jargon shouted by 30 year old adolescent musicians like, "Let's party" and "Long live rock 'n' roll" or "Lets get high!". Instead you hear things like "Our album, entitled War, has been said to be negative because of the title. It is not negative. The theme of War is surrender" and "There is only one flag - the white flag."
The message is obvious to non-believers. Denver music critic G. Brown stated his review of the U2 show that after three songs he felt as though he was in church. Rolling Stone headlined it's feature on U2, "Blessed Are the Peacemakers." The article even pointed out the critics who see U2 as a purely political band have overlooked the key lines in "Sunday Bloody Sunday." "The real battle just began/To claim the victory Jesus won/On a Sunday Bloody Sunday," Record Magazine headlined it's article, "On War and Peace and the Light Within."
Lead singer Bono Vox is a showman; that is his job. Yet he has brought a realistic faith to his job and is communicating it to thousands. He is compared to Mick Jagger of the Stones because of the passion with which he performs, but he certainly isn't singing the same kind of songs. Neither would you see Mick Jagger jump into the audience like Bono does so fearlessly. Why does Bono jump out into the crowd? To consummate the relationship he has built with the audience, to let them know he cares about them.
On the day of the first show, it rained from early in the morning and the temperatures were cool. About four p.m. Bono brought out coffee to those who had braved the elements to see the show that evening. He passed out coffee and walked about the crowd greeting them with a smile and a caring twinkle in his eye. In return, they care about him, Bono has said, "I believe in the politics of love." Isn't that what the gospels are all about anyway?
No doubt, we would not expect to see a pastor in one of our churches act like Bono. Then again, we would never expect to see all our people at a U2 concert in a church.
If Bono were to read this, he would probably be dismayed that he had been looked at in purely "religious" terms. He doesn't want to be boxed in like that. Once again, some Christians are sure to yell "Compromise!" But is it really? Bono and U2 sing about life. If they sing songs that have spiritual overtones, Christians want to make them their own. Why can't we leave them out there for everyone?
To end their show, U2 took the stage and began to sing "40", a paraphrase of Psalm 40: 1-3. Over 4000 in attendance joined in and sang it through three times to bring the show to a close. An intelligent and positive approach to the gospel gave over 4000 people a new image of what being a Christian really means.
© 1983 CCM magazine. All Rights Reserved.