Opening Act(s): The Pixies
Zoo Station, The Fly, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Mysterious Ways, One, Until The End Of The World, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World, Angel Of Harlem-Dancing Queen, Satellite Of Love, Bad-All I Want Is You-Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Where The Streets Have No Name, Pride (In The Name Of Love), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Encore(s): Desire, Ultraviolet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Love Is Blindness.
U2 at Tacoma Dome
by Patrick McDonald
The “Zoo TV Tour” could use more TV.
The much-heralded video technology of U2’s new tour, which played the first of two shows last night in the Tacoma Dome (the second is tonight), was impressive enough, but not nearly as much as you might expect. The banks of TV screens were not used at all during some songs, and sparingly in others.
The most important screen, the one that showed the live action on stage, was not used nearly enough. It would have helped the show a great deal if it had been used the whole time, because seeing the stage was almost impossible, unless you were sitting high in the dome.
In all the massive planning for the big extravaganza, they forgot one basic thing: The height of the stage.
The stage is not high enough for sports arenas like the Tacoma Dome, which has a flat main floor. It’s nice for U2 to have a stage that’s right at audience level, because the band members can interact with the crowd - hand-slap fans at the lip of the stage, or catch bouquets tossed to them, as lead singer Bono did at one point.
But with a stage set low, nearly everybody past the first few rows wants to stand on their seats to see better. And that’s what happened last night. The great majority of people in the packed hall had to stand on their chairs for the whole two hours of the set. They couldn’t dance, they couldn’t interact with one another, they couldn’t move.
Paramount, Seattle Center and even Kingdome concert security seem to know how to handle this - they make the first few rows get off their chairs, and the rest follow, like dominoes (and the whole crowd cheers, because everybody is much more comfortable). But Tacoma Dome security, in their business suits, earphones and walkie-talkies, didn’t have a clue. They let everybody stand on the chairs and be miserable all night.
Bono’s new stage persona also didn’t work well. On this tour he’s trying to short-circuit his earnest, politically-correct image by acting like a leering, glitzy, show-biz lout. But his heart wasn’t in it last night. He wore the costumes - a black leather outfit with bug-eyed black sunglasses and, for the encore, a silver-lame suit with matching cowboy hat - and talked the talk, drawling like a Texan (“Have we got a show lined up fer yew t’naht”), but he couldn’t make it stick, even on a humorous level.
Probably because of the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in London, which was shown on the “Zoo TV” screens between sets, Bono was somewhat serious. He dedicated the show to Mercury, and also threw in some political commentary about the presidential race, both of which were more in keeping with old Bono image.
But dropping the gruff persona allowed him to be more warm and dramatic in his singing, and his voice soared on songs like “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” from the new “Achtung Baby” album, and such U2 classics as “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Desire.” The Edge also was in fine form, with his guitar playing cleaner, more economic and more forceful than ever.
The first half of the show was given over to songs from “Achtung Baby,” highlighted by the slow, dramatic “One” and the thick and chunky “Mysterious Ways,” which was accompanied by a live belly-dancer doing the Salome bit with veils.
During the galloping “Until the End of the World,” Bono played with a boom camera, aiming it at himself and then at the crowd. It was one of few times he got involved in the show’s technology.
The band went to a small platform set amid the crowd (again, the majority of people could not see it) for a semi-acoustic set that included “Angel of Harlem” and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” Toward the end of the show, the crowd lustily sang along to “With Or Without You” and “Pride.”
As he has done at other stops on the tour, Bono used a portable phone to make a call during the show - he dialed the White House and got hung-up on when he asked to talk to President Bush.
The show was opened by the poor Pixies, who did’t get long to play and were mostly ignored by the crowd. The only song in the top alternative band’s set that got much reaction was its cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain hit, “Head On.”
The sold-out crowd tonight will probably get a much better show. The band will be rested, and won’t have the Mercury concert to think about. And maybe T-Dome security will wise up and keep people from standing on the seats.
© Seattle Times, 1992. All rights reserved.