Opening Act(s): PJ Harvey
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Gone, Even Better Than The Real Thing, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Sweetest Thing, In A Little While, Angel Of Harlem, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Bad-40, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, The Fly. Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, Pride (In The Name Of Love), One, Walk On.
Bono begins ‘Elevation’ by singing ‘Oranges, poranges, who says there’s no rhyme for oranges?’, which is a line from a song sung by the Witchiepoo character on the old kids TV show H.R. Pufnstuf. Bono references the presence of his wife, Ali Hewson, during The Sweetest Thing and The Fly. He sings 10-15 seconds of ‘I Walk The Line’ after One, and dedicates Walk On to Johnny Cash.
Orange County Register
Bono displays his showmanship
He’s no longer an eager lad out to change the world, but a well-schooled entertainer.
by Jeffrey Miller, The Orange County Register
He was a grizzled gent in his late 40s, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a funky beige fedora, looking every bit the aging, would-be hipster.
As he climbed the stairs from the floor of the Arrowhead Pond before U2’s performance Tuesday, the person next to me gave him a dismissive glance. “The hat doesn’t work,” he said.
Elvis Costello had walked by, not just unrecognized but the target of derision. Middle age can be unkind to once cutting-edge performers.
Bono seems to know this. The U2 singer isn’t the fresh-faced, eager-to-inspire leader of a ragtag outfit from Ireland, nor the newly crowned heir to the rock throne, nor even the postmodern superstar who turned stadium extravaganzas into an ironic commentary on pop-culture idolatry and excess. He’s outgrown all that.
He’s a battle-tested showman, packing the full arsenal of entertainer’s tricks. He knows he doesn’t need to incite the crowd. Sure, he might break a sweat jogging around the enormous, heart-shaped catwalk of the band’s Elevation tour set. He’ll reach out to accept a fan’s offering of a rose, a necklace or a spangled cowboy hat, allowing a momentary illusion of contact. Then it’s on to the next move.
It’s a time-honed technique: coaxing and then withdrawing, teasing but never really putting out. Forget the Rock Star 101 ploy of thrusting the microphone into the air to get the audience to sing along. U2’s fans do so without prompting, freeing Bono to lean back and bask in the adulation.
It helps that the band he fronts has raised the arena-rock spectacle to an art form with brilliantly conceived set design, lighting and video screens. Then there are the musicians - The Edge churning out his trademark riffs, Larry Mullen Jr. providing brisk, workmanlike drumming and Adam Clayton doing his nightly bit as the anonymous bassist, plunking root notes and doing his best to stay out of the way.
Combined, the performance and presentation transformed the sterile, air-conditioned expanses of the Pond into a sweaty roadhouse, with all 18,000-plus fans - even those in the rafters - on their feet throughout.
Those familiar with the band’s set Monday would have found few surprises here. The quirky choice of “Kite” was jettisoned in favor of more familiar tunes, “Even Better Than the Real Thing” and “The Sweetest Thing,” as well as “Gone” from the “Pop” album.
At the prescribed point in the evening, Bono and The Edge marched to the front tip of the catwalk to perform as an acoustic duo. This time they did a refreshing “Angel of Harlem” and “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” instead of “Desire” and “Stay (Faraway, So Close!).” Oh, and they dropped “I Remember You” from the final encore.
Beyond that, it was the same show as Monday - indeed, the same as any other date on the tour. Hardcore fans will take note of minute differences, like Bono slipping a slice of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” into “Mysterious Ways.” But for anyone else, it was the same.
And sameness is not necessarily bad. Listening to the band blast its way through “The Fly” at the end of the main set left no doubt that this was as good an arena-rock show as people around here are likely to see for a while. Whether it’s worth $130 is a matter of personal choice (and one’s tolerance for living off nothing but ramen for several months).
Through it all, Bono entertained the crowd with subdued assurance, appearing to expend no more energy than was essential to complete the band’s mission of sending the folks home happy. It wasn’t a spill-your-guts-on-the-stage, try-to-change-the-world performance.
Maybe it’s because he’s almost 40, an age when such idealistic fervor might look a bit silly.
Sort of like if the guy in the fedora were still trying to be an angry young man.
All images are © Orange County Register; © Julie Burton; © Otto Kitsinger