Opening Act(s): Third Eye Blind
Mofo, I Will Follow, Gone, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Last Night On Earth, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, All I Want Is You, Staring At The Sun, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky-America, 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-Wake Up Dead Man.
U2 pleases crowd in grand fashion
by Curtis Ross
(Tampa) - U2, to paraphrase Bob Dylan’s description of John Wesley Harding, is never known to make a modest move. And if the crowd of 20,232 at Houlihan’s Stadium Monday night was humbled by the band’s standards, its performance was full of grand gestures.
The band’s PopMart tour is a spectacular undertaking, its stage backed by an enormous video screen and shadowed by a huge golden arch. An extra length of stage snaked out into the audience, allowing lead singer Bono to work the crowd mercilessly during the opening number, “Mofo.” The band has drawn flack from critics and fans for its foray into electronic dance music on its recent “Pop” album and “Mofo” has the requisite pounding beats of that genre. But its lyrics - “Looking for to save my soul…looking for to fill that God-shaped hole” - are vintage U2, full of yearning and searching.
The band moved sharply into the past with its second number, “I Will Follow” from its first album, 1980’s “Boy.” The band made a subtle pitch for its new album by mixing new numbers in with older favorites. This was most effective when Bono and the Edge performed an acoustic version of “Staring at the Sun” from “Pop.” Stripped of its layer of production, “Staring” is revealed as a strong and simple pop song in the classic Beatles mode. The Edge performed a solo version of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” a song he said they hadn’t performed in a while, until a recent show in Sarajevo. This two-song segment followed a bravura trio: “New Year’s Day,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” all from U2’s mid-80’s heyday and all still capable of raising goose bumps.
Bono made reference to the furor over “Pop” in his introduction to the latter song, referring to the band’s “restlessness.” Earlier, he had called the crowd “the diehards” while the Edge noted the crowd’s size by dryly suggesting that everyone “feel free to spread out.” But U2 didn’t betray any disappointment, instead putting on a performance that matched its own extravagant stage setup. “Bullet the Blue Sky” was accompanied by Roy Lichtenstein-style cartoon images of blazing guns and planes. “Even Better Than The Real Thing” was backed by graphics of consumer products such as “Paranoia” perfume. The technical peak came when the band emerged from a giant, spinning lemon to the techno pulse of “Discotheque.”
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