Opening Act(s): The BoDeans, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul
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, People Get Ready, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Exit-Silver And Gold, In God's Country, Bad, October, New Year's Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): One Tree Hill, With Or Without You, Party Girl, 40.
Rolling Stone, September 30, 1987
Music Performance: U2
by Jimmy Guterman
East Rutherford, New Jersey
September 14th, 1987
From shaky start to powerful finish, U2's two-hour performance at Giants Stadium -- the first outdoor concert on the group's fall tour -- showed both the problems and promise that rock's preeminent band faces in adapting to larger arenas.
A portentous taped introduction announced the opening number, "Where the Streets Have No Name," with the band members staking their positions quickly: drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton establishing the beat, guitarist Edge and vocalist Bono steering the band's melodic course. Creating the band's omnipresent signature rhythms, Edge rocked slowly and seductively from the waist, his few flourishes probing rather than flashy. But all eyes were on Bono. The vocalist's every gesture was greeted with roars of approval as he sang from a lowered platform.
Handicapped early in the program by a muddy sound mix -- even by football-stadium standards -- and a dragging version of the show's second song, "I Will Follow," there were reasons to doubt Bono's boast that "if we had a roof, we'd blow it off anyway."
Sensing the show was in danger of slipping away, U2 moved to bridge the gap created by the huge arena. Although the sound problems never cleared up, the performance turned back to the band by the sixth song, a version of "The Unforgettable Fire" far more muscular than on the wobbly album of the same name.
Energetic solos by Edge stomped out any lingering reservations: on "Bullet the Blue Sky," his furious guitar thrashes allayed any pretension that could be found in Bono's spoken sections. Encouraged by the crowd, Edge became a progressively stronger visual foil to Bono, his guitar playing increasingly wild and less studied. The response from the audience was immediate and absolute -- supportive during the concert's tentative opening, the crowd became unequivocally adoring as the show improved.
A cover of the Impressions' "People Get Ready" proved a highlight, with the set peaking on an extended and angry version of "Exit." Playing off each other, Mullen and Edge piled tension between drums and guitar higher and higher until Edge slashed everything down with one brazen chord. Bono slipped in bits of other songs, including smidgens of the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" and Van Morrison's "Gloria" (the band didn't play its own song of the same name), before resolving into a thrashing, bare-bones version of "Silver and Gold," Bono's contribution to the Sun City project. During a hypnotic version of their own "Bad," Bono interpolated the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and "Sympathy for the Devil," as well as Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," emphasizing U2's formative links with other bands. The set ended with a plaintive rendition of "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
Starting its first encore by ripping through "One Tree Hill," the band turned sultry and understated on "With or Without You." Preceding the second encore -- a smoldering version of "40" -- Bono told the audience the band had decided to play stadiums "so scalpers don't rip you off." Asking if those far from the stage would prefer a video screen earned the night's only mixed response.
Even if the band's success was qualified, U2 is the group that has always been able to communicate with its audience, and remains intent on not allowing the necessity of performing in large arenas to create new barriers. The band members still haven't found what they're looking for, but they're hunting it down like few other bands today.