Opening Act(s): Rage Against The Machine
Mofo, I Will Follow, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Gone, Pride (In The Name Of Love), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For-Stand By Me, Last Night On Earth, Until The End Of The World, If God Will Send His Angels, Staring At The Sun, Daydream Believer, Miami, Bullet The Blue Sky, Please, Where The Streets Have No Name. Encore(s): Discothèque, If You Wear That Velvet Dress, With Or Without You, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, Mysterious Ways, One.
Dallas Morning News
Big Deal - U2’s stage spectacle enormously insipid
by Tom Maurstad
DALLAS — A few songs into U2’s Monday night concert at the Cotton Bowl, Bono greeted the crowd.
“Texas, it’s good to be in a state where size really does matter.”
Texas, the state where everything is bigger, would seem the natural site for U2’s PopMart tour, a multimedia, multimillion-dollar celebration of big things.
A big olive, a giant lemon, a huge golden arch, a massive TV screen (833 square yards of “light-emitting diodes”) - for all of U2’s identity inversions, the band’s central tenet hasn’t changed much. Bigger is still better.
So, if 1993’s Zoo TV tour was bigger, apparently PopMart’s expanded and retooled extravaganza is supposed to be biggest. In terms of sheer scale, productions can’t grow much more without building bigger stadiums. And at first, the show’s giganticism looked and felt kind of, sort of, new - it’s not every day that you get to see a 60-foot projection of Bono’s head.
From the half-McDonald’s arch to the wash of Warholian/computer-doodled imagery, the tour’s parody of commercial culture was in overbearing abundance. Certainly it’s a motif appropriate within a concert designed to be experienced primarily through a giant TV set that the audience watched while the tiny antlike musicians scurried about. And like any good Nike commercial, the show was fast-paced and full of flashy images, only a good deal longer.
A question provoked by all the show’s special effects and answered by none of them was “What’s the point?” Perhaps that’s a meaningless query in the group’s postmodern world. But it’s a hard one to avoid as you stare at that big olive or that giant lemon, waiting for them to do something. And even when they (finally) do, as when the lemon and its mirrored surface were unsheathed during the first encore and set spinning out over the audience, the response was inevitably a letdown. You mean, that’s it?
From the beginning of the two-hour show, the band divided its performances between old songs and new. And in a confirmation of the story told by the car stereos blasting among the tailgate parties before the show, where everyone was playing classic U2, the only moments of real electric drama were spurred by the grand old songs - “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “I Will Follow,” “With or Without You.” In the middle of the group’s high-tech blaze, the only thing raising goosebumps was that old-fashioned human spectacle of thousands of people singing at the tops of their lungs.
Accepting the thesis that the PopMart tour is built on, rock concerts are just another multimedia spectacle competing with films and theme parks for our entertainment dollars. But from the way Monday night’s audience clung to and cheered favorite old songs, that thesis may require some fine-tuning.
So it was a perfect moment when the extended production of “Bullet the Blue Sky” climaxed in a circle of powerful lights shining straight up into the sky. Looking up, you saw them ringing a perfect crescent moon, which, even as millions of dollars of technology blazed onstage, was the most beautiful effect of the evening.
© 1997 Dallas Morning News.