Opening Act(s): Red Rockers
11 O'Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, Seconds, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Wire, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Cry, The Electric Co., A Sort Of Homecoming, Bad, October, New Year's Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): Party Girl, Gloria, 40.
Dallas Morning News, February 27, 1985
U2 PREMIERE A PASSIONATE EVENT IN ROCK
by Russell Smith
U2 launched its U.S. tour -- its first big-arena outing -- at Reunion Arena Monday night. Not since Bruce Springsteen first occupied that stage have I witnessed such a magnificent, shattering concert performance. The Irish foursome -- merely great on record -- very nearly defies praise live. It transcends the mundane trappings of rock 'n' roll spectacle to achieve something more akin to a religious experience. And that's not an allusion to the band's Christian leanings. U2's performance was simply moving in a way that no rock 'n' roll show has been, and I'm not sure I understand how or why.
Maybe it's Bono. The lead singer's presence is dynamic, to say the least. It's a spiritual magnetism -- as opposed to animal -- and the result was absolutely mesmerizing. At one point, he brought a young woman -- stunned to the point of tears -- onto the stage, and gave her a long embrace that, in another show, would have seemed sexual. But Bono's embrace called up another sort of image -- more like a faith healer administering to a cripple.
With a no-frills stage set-up almost Spartan in its starkness, U2 started off at a slow pace with 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow and Seconds. The musicians worked as one -- from Bono's soaring, passionate vocals and The Edge's ponderous scratching guitar to Adam Clayton's brooding bass lines and Larry Mullen Jr.'s driving, determined drumming.
Looking ghostly under a pulsating strobe, Bono welcomed everyone to The Unforgettable Fire and then moved on to Wire. While there was no rock-star grandstanding, the singer possesses an amazing sense of drama. U2's grandiose multi-layered sound gave the music a larger-than-life quality, particularly on Sunday Bloody, which was heralded by a massive bank of fog. At one point, Bono had the very young crowd chanting "No war, no war,' although a group near me apparently misheard him and was chanting "No more, no more.' It's difficult to say whether the bulk of the audience was really getting the band's pacifist messages or just enjoying the majesty of the delivery.
U2 seems to be working on the notion that it can rise above what arena rock always has been. The noble experiment was not quite successful, because the audience just wouldn't have it. At one point, Bono left the stage and scaled the lower balcony in an attempt to sing Amazing Grace while perched on the balcony's railing. What could have been a truly remarkable moment was lost when the sea of clutching hands refused to let it happen. He tried for intimacy and found his fans grabbing for a piece of a pop idol. He finished the song from the arena floor.
A Sort of Homecoming was followed by a nearly revelatory rendition of Bad. Bono introduced the song with a story of a friend almost killed by drugs, and he inserted refrains from the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday and Sympathy for the Devil into the number. Draw your own conclusions.
The set also included MLK, Pride (In the Name of Love), New Year's Day, Party Girl, Gloria and "40'. It very unfortunately was marred by a parade of young women who kept breaking through the barriers and rushing the stage, some literally ramming into Bono, who was visibly upset -- you could even say freaked out -- by their fanaticism.
A few individuals managed to dampen an otherwise glorious event, and it made me angrier than I ever thought I could get at a rock concert. That says something about the power of U2. It's the only band that's ever moved me to question the Rolling Stones' seemingly definitive statement, "It's only rock 'n' roll.'
As U2 tried to prove Monday night, it can be so much more.
© 1985 Dallas Morning News. All rights reserved.