Opening Act(s): Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Longpigs
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-Hallelujah, Staring At The Sun, Sweet Caroline, 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, Rain-One-Unchained Melody.
New York Times
Trading ’80s-Style Earnestness for Glitz and 40-Foot Lemon
by Neil Strauss
MEADOWLANDS — Though the stadium concert, with some 50,000 fans worked up over the pyrotechnics of a group the size of ants, is one of modern rock-‘n’-roll’s iconic images, there hasn’t actually been a stadium rock show in the New York region since the Grateful Dead last performed at Giants Stadium in New Jersey nearly two years ago. On Saturday night at the same stadium, U2 rectified the situation.
In front of a sold-out crowd, the band offered images guaranteed to reach the back rows: a 170-foot long video screen, a giant olive on an immense swizzle stick and a 40-foot lemon that (like the finale of Pink Floyd’s last tour) turned into a giant disco ball, sending beads of light spinning over the faces of everyone in the audience.
A sure sign of the dwindling attraction of stadium concerts is that tickets are still available for the band’s third show Tuesday, and outside Saturday’s show scalpers weren’t hiking up the price of tickets. They were selling them for less than half price.
One of the challenges that U2 — which spent the ’80s as a beacon of earnestness, compassion and political rectitude — has put before itself in the ’90s is to give the grandness of stadium concerts meaning. On its “Zoo TV” tour five years ago, U2 turned its giant video screens, props and costume changes into a statement on media overload and pop-star narcissism.
With its current “Popmart” tour, U2 equates pop music and fast-food culture and depicts them as a religion with disposable saints. “This our church, made out of bits and pieces of America,” Bono said between songs, gesturing to the videos, lemon and yellow McDonald’s-style arch above him.
But there was a conceptual and musical messiness to Saturday’s ambitious two-hour, 22-song show. Bono’s new sequenced songs and their “search for baby Jesus under the trash,” to quote a lyric from “Mofo,” seemed distant and removed from the flashing, flickering stage spectacle. Gestures like a video montage of Warhol-style images of dead pop stars fell flat, while a sing-along of the Monkees hit “Daydream Believer” led by the band’s guitarist, the Edge, was surprisingly effective.
And except for a few anthems, like “Pride” and “Staring at the Sun,” the group seemed unable to lock its new arrangements into a solid groove, with normally powerful songs failing to register an impact as Bono pranced like a bad Chippendale on a catwalk hundreds of feet away from his bandmates. Unless the group was making a statement on the way glitz, neon and arrogance disconnect us from the passions and emotions that make music more than just a disposable commodity, U2 has become a lost band that is very good at looking like it knows where it is. As Bono sang in “Gone,” “You wanted to get somewhere so badly you had to lose yourself along the way.”
© 1997 New York Times.