Opening Act(s): Lone Justice
Where The Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, A Sort Of Homecoming, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Exit, In God’s Country, Gloria, Bad, October, New Year’s Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): With Or Without You, I Shall Be Released, 40.
San Diego Union-Tribune, April 14, 1987
Sellout audience gets all-out performance
by Robert J. Hawkins
BONO STOOD at the edge of the stage, drenched head with sweat, pointing off into the darkness. He had stopped singing, as the rest of U2 kept alive “Pride (in the Name of Love).”
“There’s a lady in the middle of the audience,” said Bono. “I want her to come up here. She knows who she is. Signals. She’s been sending me good signals all night.”
That might have been half of the 13,000-plus people in the Sports Arena last night.
One woman did come forward, her face a mixture of incredulity and ecstasy.
Bono had been right about the signals. Martin Luther King Jr., the young woman translated the lyrics in the sign language of the deaf.
“For the first time ever at a U2 concert,” said Bono.
The woman’s fluid, joyous gestures rose above U2’s amplified sound, resonating off the hearts of thousands of fans. Chills ran up the spine, cresting in moist eyes.
If there is such a thing as a shared moment among 10,000 people, this was one.
And not the only one of the night.
The reception for this Irish rock band has likely been unmatched at the Sports Arena, with the possible exception of tonight’s concert, the second sold-out performance.
The enthusiasm at times seemed even to overwhelm Bono.
“This is the way I want it to be for the rest of the tour. Thank you. Thank you very much,” he said quietly.
During “New Year’s Day” Bono reached down to shake hands across the stage pit. He then stepped into the pit and reached more fans, felt more of the heady power surging toward him.
A young man who scrambled over the wall was taken under Bono’s protective arm before muscled security guards could pull him away. Finally, Bono climbed on to the edge of the wall as hundreds of hands lunged upward as one to touch him.
To touch the edge of his cloak.
To touch his foot.
To touch any part of the man who has so forcefully touched their lives.
Bono might call himself “just a rock musician” but his messianic nature makes him a potent cultural phenomenon.
Last night’s concert was the total communal rock experience raised to incredible heights. From the lofty sonic opening strains of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” this audience was up, ecstatic and inflamed.
Every gesture, every tune, every change in lighting seemed to elicit bone-crushing cheers louder than the moment before.
U2 did this without a multimillion-dollar set. Without extravagant special effects. Without gaudily colored Spandex costumes. Without donning the guise of mythical fantasy figures. Without mascara or makeup. And without resorting to sexist or obscene lyrics. sweeping of the arena by a dozen red spotlights.
As for the band, it is no more than the equal of its fans. Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton dress in the drab blacks, grays and whites of the common man. There is nothing affected or theatrical about their appearance.
Even fans who rush the stage are treated more like equals than intruders. Each one that reached Bono (very few tried, really) was taken under his arm for a moment before being hustled off.
One fan reached Bono as he was introducing Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Without losing a step, the unflustered Bono turned to the kid with the jerky smile. “And here’s Bob Dylan now,” he said. “Sorry, Bob, you’ll have to go.”
In the May issue of Musician magazine, Bono reinforces the Everyman philosophy of U2: “Musicians are ordinary people. It’s the music that is extraordinary.”
And U2 music is indeed extraordinary. It addresses social and political issues. It is about ideas. It is about personal inquiry. It wallows in reality and dares the listener to remain uninvolved:
In “Bullet the Blue Sky,” an indictment of U.S. bombings in Vietnam, Bono picked up a spotlight and slowly swept the harsh white light over the people — as if to spread the blame equally over all.
He talked of his recently developed interest in native American music — gospel, country, folk. Bono noted that this music “all has a bit to do with Ireland … old Irish folk songs eventually became American folk songs.” He lets America know he is reclaiming the Irish heritage: “So for us this tour is a bit of a homecoming.”
During “Sunday Bloody Sunday” Bono reminded all of the existence of Amnesty International and that it “is a good thing to say no to torture, say no to people being put into prison for advocating peaceful change.”
Toward the end of “Pride” he cried “Sing this for John Lennon. Sing this for Jimi Hendrix. Sing this for Steven Biko. Sing this for the memory of Martin Luther King.”
Every song was a group participation number. The fans are that devoted.
But on the finale, “Forty,” Bono worked the crowd especially well into a gentle chant of the refrain “to sing the last song.”
As the fans chanted and clapped in time, the musicians left one by one. quietly bade farewell.
Clayton unplugged his bass and walked off.
The Edge moved to the keyboard one last time, then drifted off.
Only Mullen was left, on the drums. Mullen and 10,000 keeping time. When he was gone, the clap and chant lingered, growing softer. There was a reluctance to break the spell, end this communion of rock.
But it ended. It always ends.
“What paper do you write for?” the young woman asked as the lights came on. “I’ll read it. I’ll pin it up on my wall.”
It will be a pale memory of this night.
© The San Diego Union-Tribune. All rights reserved.