Opening Act(s): Nelly Furtado
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Staring At The Sun, New York, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Sweetest Thing, In A Little While, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Bad, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, The Fly. Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, One, Walk On.
U2’s flight to Charlotte is delayed by rainy and icy weather. The band apparently arrives at the Coliseum shortly before showtime, and goes on to play a shortened set compared to the first two nights in Miami.
U2 Goes Back To Basics In Heart-Shaped Show
by the Observer staff
The house lights blazed mercilessly as Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton simply walked on stage to the opening chords of “Elevation.” No pyrotechnics. No dazzling light displays.
It was just the boys and the music.
After confusing hardcore fans with “PopMart” and “ZooTV” tour excesses, U2 returned to its roots Thursday at a sold-out Charlotte Coliseum. Gone were the giant mirror-ball lemons and cars hovering over the stage. The 19,705 fans - ranging from kids to Baby Boomers - that stayed on their feet for nearly two hours, didn’t brave a dreary night for those gimmicks. They came for the songs.
U2 opened the show with “Elevation,” off the latest album, the Grammy-award winning “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.” The song built slowly with Bono’s vocals barely a murmur, and it built steadily with Edge’s shrieking guitar and Mullen’s crashing drums driving the crowd into a jumping fit. U2 maintained the momentum with “Beautiful Day,” the first single off the new album.
Then the band from Ireland took a nostalgic tour of past albums. They performed popular anthems, “With or Without You,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Bad” - one of the strongest songs of the night.
The show also had quiet, tender moments. On “Sweetest Thing,” Bono played the keyboards and sang during a rare time when he wasn’t running around the stage. At one point he looked at Edge and flashed a satisfied smile. The U2 that fans had discovered in the late ’70s and endured through the challenging ’90s was back.
“Thank you very much for coming out in the rain,” Bono said tentatively. “We’ve been through a lot over the years and you’ve put up with it. Thank you.”
Bono also introduced the band, something he rarely does. It wasn’t that the band needed any introductions, but it gave the audience a chance to express its love for the individual members.
A giant heart catwalk enveloped the stage with fans standing in the center and outside of the heart. Six video screens flashed images of the show, typically showing each of the band members on a separate screen. Although there were no pyrotechnics, standard effects in concerts these days, there were plenty of light displays that beamed geometric shapes and star maps onto the audience and sheer curtains.
Bono rarely stayed on the main stage. He prowled the catwalk, wailing, sprinting, strutting and dancing. On the first few songs, he kept striking a crazy Spiderman-like pose, crouching low to the ground and sticking one leg out. Or he held one leg in the air like a flickted Karate Kid about to kick someone. The fans didn’t seem to mind. They were just glad to see the band, which hasn’t played here since 1992.
And once again, U2 showed why it’s one of the few bands whose longevity and musicianship have made it a cultural force. For more than 20 years, the group has consistently taken fans on a musical exploration of spirituality and politics. The mid-90s saw the band experimenting with techno dance music. The new album surprised critics with its broad appeal that earned it three Grammys in a music market wallowing in pop and angry rock. And concerts are spectacles; music videos brought to life.
“All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” is a somber album about preparing for death, but the tour burns with life - the simple life.
All images are © Charlotte Observer.