Opening Act(s): The BoDeans
Where The Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, Trip Through Your Wires, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Exit, In God's Country, Southern Man, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Help, Bad, October, New Year's Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, With Or Without You, 40.
Chicago Tribune, Ocdtober 29, 1987
ROBUST AND LEAN U2 MAKES DINOSAUR BANDS LOOK EXTINCT
by Tribune staff
After a concert season filled with dinosaur bands and monstrously theatrical performances, one of the most exciting and successful shows of the year turned out to have neither.
In the first of three nights of sold-out shows at the Rosemont Horizon, U2 proved Wednesday that its recent ascent into the upper reaches of rock stardom was no fluke and that the rise has done little to change its basic approach and appeal.
The stripped-to-basics show had plenty of U2 standards ("I Will Follow," "Pride," "Sunday Bloody Sunday") and several of the strongest cuts from "The Joshua Tree," their latest and most successful album. Surprisingly, the band's newer material, songs that have been surfacing on the backs of recent singles, was left out in favor of an unusual and effective assortment of cover tunes including snatches of Bob Marley's "Exodus," The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" and Van Morrison's "Gloria" along with a slowed sing-along version of the Beatles' "Help" and a full-scale assault on Neil Young's "Southern Man," U2-style.
In the middle of the latter tune, vocalist Bono, appearing none the worse for wear after a recent shoulder injury sustained in concert, told the audience, "We started playing our own songs because we couldn't play anyone else's-and we still can't!" He once believed, he continued, that rock stars had some trick up their sleeve that they used to create their magic. He discovered instead that all you need is "just three chords and the truth." To prove the point, he brought someone up from the audience who not only plugged away at those chords, but tossed out a nice little solo to boot.
U2's insistence on bringing the audience in on the trick is perhaps the real secret of the band's success. The concerts, though certainly carefully and dramatically presented, are more like ritualistic, communal celebrations than an evening's entertainment. The audience members generate a good portion of the excitement as they sing along, sway in unison, wave their hands, display laboriously drawn banners and roar their approval of the band's every gesture.
Still, there is something of a mystery that remains. These guys aren't doing particularly commercial or trendy music. It's not even very complex or catchy-some freight train rhythms and razor-edged guitar compose almost the complete bag of tricks. And they're not "matinee idols" either. The most visually striking member of the band, bassist Adam Clayton, looks more like an Eastern European party bureaucrat than a rock and roll star.
But in trying and increasingly frightening times, U2 has managed to make faith and hope, however troubled or difficult to find, something that isn't corny, cliched or co-opted. That, in itself, is something of a miracle.
The BoDeans' affable and warmly received opening set displayed their roots, rock and reggae sound, Everly Brothers' harmonies and energetic approach to great advantage. The cavernous space, however, swallowed up some of the finer musical touches and was rather at odds with the small-scale charm of their style. In a crowded little bar, or their hometown gym, these guys would knock everyone's socks off.
© The Chicago Tribune. All rights reserved.