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, Gone, Discothèque, Staring At The Sun, New York, Sunday Bloody Sunday, I Will Follow, 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-Losing My Religion-Everybody Hurts, Walk On.
U2 perform snippets of R.E.M.’s ‘Losing My Religion’ and ‘Everybody Hurts’ during U2’s ‘One’. Members of R.E.M. are in attendance at this show.
Fans Can’t Leave Behind Passion For U2’s Straight-Ahead Rock
By Nick Tate, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
They’re calling it the Elevation Tour. But U2’s stellar performance Friday night at Philips Arena was more about evolution than elevation, with the veteran Irish rockers making a clean (and welcome) break from the formulaic Vegas-style roadshows they mounted in the 1990s.
Among the things Bono and the boys have left behind this time out: the disco-ball gimmickry that overwhelmed 1997’s schlock-rock PopMart tour and the special effects of U2’s over-the-top Zoo TV roadshow. There were no giant lemons or martini glasses on the stage Friday. No distracting Cher-style costume changes. No headache-inducing visual effects.
Instead, Bono and the boys kept it simple, delivering a largely unscripted, stripped-down rock show that put song and spontaneity front and center. From the get-go, it was clear that U2 has turned a page -inadvertently acknowledging its 1990s techno-disco experiments were an unfortunate detour from the political anthems, straight-ahead rockers and from-the-gut ballads that made U2 an ’80s radio staple.
After concert opener Nelly Furtado delivered a throbbing set of her genre-bending pop, Bono and his bandmates walked casually onto the stage - with the house lights on - creating an immediate rapport with the Philips crowd. With the opening strains of the up-tempo rocker “Elevation” - from U2’s Grammy-winning 2.2 million-selling new album, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” - the house lights went down, the spotlights came up and the crowd leapt to its feet, where it stayed for the entire two-hour show.
From “Can’t Leave,” the band covered a half dozen songs from the new album, including the double-Grammy-winning “Beautiful Day” and “Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” and delivered retooled versions of such U2 gems as “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “New Year’s Day” and “One,” in which Bono quoted R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.”
From start to finish, the focus was on the classic U2 mix of Bono’s tortured-banshee wail, Dave “Edge” Evans’ cascading guitar lines and the rumbling rhythm section of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. singalongs.
Despite suffering allergy-related throat problems, Bono - ever the showman - was in fine form, prancing, posing and dancing around a heart-shaped catwalk that extended into the audience. Three songs into the show, he leaned down and kissed a woman in the audience, then stepped off the catwalk into the crowd without missing a beat.
The concert was one of the most anticipated of the year, with all 18,000-plus tickets (topping out at $132) selling out in minutes and scalpers doing a brisk, profitable business outside the arena before show time. And for all the hype, Bono and the boys didn’t disappoint.
Near the end of the concert-closing new song, “Walk On,” Bono admonished: “All that you can’t leave behind … you’ve got to leave it behind.” It’s a piece of advice the Irish rockers are wisely heeding on their own, as they move beyond the excesses of the 1990s to embrace a new, if familiar, sound.
All images are © Atlanta Journal-Constitution; © U2.com; © Michael Mueller