Opening Act(s): Fun Lovin’ Criminals
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-Unchained Melody.
Everybody loved pop music
by Mike Ross
The lads in U2 are extremely serious about not taking themselves seriously.
In what’s being called the rock ‘n’ roll gamble of the decade, the Irish supergroup spent a bazillion dollars on the largest, tackiest, cheesiest “disco supermarket” in the world - the super-hyped PopMart tour, in case you missed the local media coverage this week. Make no mistake, every penny of that bazillion dollars was front and centre for the first of two shows in the Commonwealth Stadium last night.
In an awesome carnage of sights, sounds and songs, it simultaneously made fun of and embraced with open arms all the excesses of pop culture. Yeah, sure - it was commercial. Commercial as hell. That’s the whole point. And almost 50,000 fans were in on the joke last night. Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen wanted their fans to laugh with them, not at them. We’re supposed to snicker at the silly olive on the big toothpick, the band emerging from inside a giant mirror-ball lemon, the clashing primary colors splashed over everything, the single, massive golden arch - a bazillion-ton comment on the most successful fast food franchise in the world.
The lemon was cool, but by far the most impressive effect was the giant TV screen, which comprised the entire backdrop to the stage. Mostly, it showed the band - making U2 as huge as they always wanted to be - but it also showed a mind-blowing array of images in lurid, living color.
Psychedelia was never like this.
Somewhere in the centre of all this dazzling clutter was U2, like the little man inside the head of the titanic robot that’s about to destroy your city.
“We’re happy to be a great big rock band,” Bono explained to the crowd at one point, “but sometimes we get scared, thinking we’re going to get eaten by the monster … the big corporate monster. So our plan was to eat the monster before it could eat us.”
Well put - as the wildy cheering crowd agreed.
There were many times where it was hard to tell where the sequencers ended and the live musicians began. But this wasn’t a case of machine vs. man so much as it was as case of big boys playing with very expensive toys. Led by Mr. Confidence himself, the flamboyant and appallingly charismatic Bono, the band still delivered one hell of a performance. Songs like Bullet the Blue Sky and Where the Streets Have No Name came off brilliantly, with no hint of parody at all. In the intro to Pride (In the Name of Love) - a real show-stopper early on - drummer Larry Mullen proved he could play without sequencers. The whole band did it with everything turned off during an acoustic version of Staring at the Sun, performed on the “B” stage that extended out into the crowd.
By then it was time to get “serious” again. The Edge then led the crowd in a little karaoke, a rousing version of the Monkees’ Daydream Believer. This, again, is one of those times where you were supposed to laugh with U2 and not at them (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Opening act Fun Lovin’ Criminals worked hard and impressed some in the crowd, despite the fact that very few had a clue who they were. But it’s easy to see why this innovative New York trio got the gig. This was no ordinary band - it was more like four or five totally different bands smashed into one. Huey, Fast and Steve (they don’t like last names) really mixed it up with a combination of raw, bluesy electric guitar, jazz trumpet, keyboards and rapping, wrapped up in funky, driving rhythms. Sometimes Huey sang like Lou Reed, sometimes he rapped like a Beastie Boy.
You just never knew what those Criminals would do next. Perhaps what they did is called “acid jazz,” because you needed to be on acid to take it all in.
Sad but true, DJ Howie B. got a bigger response than Fun Lovin’ Criminals - a live band - by spinning some machine-driven techno to pump the crowd up right before U2 came on.
A machine just beat a man at chess, so I guess it all makes sense.
© 1997 Edmonton Sun