Opening Act(s): Just Jinger
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-Stand By Me, Bad, Staring At The Sun, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Please, Where The Streets Have No Name. Encore(s): Discothèque-Life During Wartime-Staying Alive, If You Wear That Velvet Dress, With Or Without You, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, Mysterious Ways, One.
This is U2’s first concert on the African continent.
U2, angry no more, deliver tired nostalgia
by Dror Eyal
I’d expected U2 to be huge. I’m talking Godzilla-sized, King Kong, sumo wrestlers. Around three-and-a-half metres would have done it.
But despite all the hype, and the ego, Bono is still the standard-issue size for a human being. Around five- and-a-half foot. Just too small for the people watching from the cheap seats at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town.
The result is that most of the fans who had spent their savings on tickets didn’t see U2. They did, however, get to see one of the biggest stage shows to hit South Africa on the world’s biggest TV screen.
In the world of U2, it seems that bigger is better, and more is what matters. The biggest TV in the world. Can you imagine that? Your cereal-box superheroes larger than myth. The whole globe-trotting show right there in front of your eyes. On TV. For tonight at least, U2 no longer exist as flesh-and-blood humans. All we get is the media myth, splayed out, enhanced, blown up to mythical proportions on a television screen that dwarfs the band. Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam as superheroes in a hypermusical. Bono dressed in a superhero-muscled T-shirt. Even better than the real thing. U2 as the first virtual band; no longer existing for the fans in the cheap seats except as media icons on a television screen. But unless you’re a rabid U2 fan, or icon worshipper, the show seems tired, old and, well, kind of eighties. All those costume changes. Landing onstage in a giant metal lemon spaceship? Didn’t Michael Jackson do that last month, or was it Spinal Tap?
Bono pulls all the same poses and lame stunts we’ve seen on countless reruns of the Zoo TV tour; dropping into the photographers’ pit to kiss one overexcited lens-wielder, dancing with possibly the only black female in the audience, shuffling about like your favourite simian.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not deriding the magic that is U2. They’re one of the biggest, most enduring rock acts to have survived the eighties and moved into the nineties with some grace.
Tonight we get the full repertoire. Everything from I Will Follow to Last Night On Earth. But it’s different. When U2 first played I Will Follow, they were a pub rock band. They now play to capacity stadiums and the songs have been stretched, pulled, and filled out to facilitate their new role.
Decontextualised, the songs do not remain the same, but undergo a not-so-subtle transformation from anger to nostalgia.
In other words, U2 are the ultimate cover band.
It has been more than a decade since Bono crooned “This is not a rebel song, this is Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It was an ironic comment.Sunday Bloody Sunday was a call to arms and a charge to stand up and be counted. Now we get Edge dedicating the song to his mom and dad, who are here tonight. This is not a rebel song, it’s a nostalgia trip. The audience loved it, singing along, holding their lighters upin the air like memorial candles for their youth. Because if you’re 16 now, chances are that you’re not a U2 fan. I mean, if you’re a teenager now, you were probably still wetting your bed when Sunday Bloody Sunday hit the charts.
Fittingly enough, the newer the material the less enthusiastically it was received. The audience didn’t come here for that, they came to relive their youth, and that’s what makes U2 the biggest act in the world. Fifteen years’ worth of memories locked up in one band.
But I can’t help feeling that although the revolution may have been televised, all we got was a rerun on a bloody huge TV screen.
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