Opening Act(s): The Sugarcubes, Public Enemy
Zoo Station, The Fly, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Mysterious Ways, One-Unchained Melody, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Dirty Old Town, Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World, Angel Of Harlem, When Love Comes To Town, Satellite Of Love, Redemption Song, Sunday Bloody Sunday, 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, Stand By Me. Encore(s): Desire, Ultraviolet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Love Is Blindness, Can’t Help Falling In Love.
I can say without any qualifications that this show was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen (quite possibly the best of all). It was one of those moments in time that can simply never be repeated in my mind, as the energy I felt from this show was simply amazing.
As any U2 fan knows, Zoo TV was the first tour in which the band decided to make their shows into a big production, and in doing so, they redefined what could be accomplished in an arena rock setting. Together, the memorizing images of the Zoo TV video screens, the elaborate stage setup (including a long catwalk leading to a second stage) along with Bono’s newly created “Fly” stage presence created a spectacle that I will never forget. Yet despite all the glitz and glamour of this massive production, it did nothing to take away from the raw musical talent of the band.
The first part of the set was almost all from Achtung Baby. I believe New Years Day was the fist old single that they played and also when Bono first began to use the catwalk. Later, the whole band walked out to the second stage and performed When Love Comes to Town along with a couple of other numbers.
What made this show truly incredible was its emotional arc. The opening cuts from Achtung Baby were performed with much gusto, with Bono strutting around the stage as “The Fly.” Then they got a little more up close and personal with the songs on the second stage. Then they returned to the main stage for more some high-level production numbers.
Yet U2 has an amazing ability to utilize all of the bells and whistles of technology to enhance their performance, then cut it all off and go back the bare essentials. This is exactly what they did while performing the classic and very emotional songs from The Joshua Tree like With or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for. It’s like one minute you’re in the middle a full on Hollywood production, and the next minute you’re in an intimate setting with only the 4 band members and their instruments. Using nothing but their talents as musicians and performers, the band made an equally strong impact on the audience without all the high tech stuff, and much more emotional.
And it is pure emotion that I believe comes across in a U2 performance more so than any other band I’ve seen. At the same time, this tour was kind of a spoof of everything U2 said they would never do, which was basically to play the part of colossal rock stars with inflated egos. At no point in the show was this made more clear than when Bono returned to the stage after a costume change sorting a golden suite with matching pants and top hat. It was like saying, “Hey, look how stupid and silly this whole rock star business is” while at the same time embracing it. Yes, it was silly and self-indulgent. It also created an unforgettable spectacle of sight and sound. No matter what you want to call it, it was clearly effective as my friend captured the thoughts that were probably going through the minds of many in the crowd as he remarked “Nice suit!”
After pulling out just about every stop imaginable, U2 ended the show with another surprise by covering Elvis Presley’s famous Can’t Help Falling In Love; talk about nothing but pure emotion… Then they paid their respects to The King by playing the same song over the PA system as they left the stage. I can’t remember if Bono said “Elvis is still in the building” as he did at many of the shows on this tour. In any case, I walked away from the show in near disbelief at what I had just witnessed. No words could ever do justice to the power of this performance, and it left me with the images that are permanently ingrained in my memory.
A quick note: I swear on a stack that the band performed God Part II (while Bono was wearing his golden outfit), although it does not appear on the set list on this site.