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, Discothèque, Staring At The Sun, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Sweetest Thing, In A Little While, Desire, Bad, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, The Fly, Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, One-40-The Ocean, Walk On.
Segments of “The Ocean” are sung at the end of One (it had been over 18 years since the full song was last performed).
U2: The Elevation Tour
by Heath Jon McCoy
U2’s arrival in Calgary seems like a religious event to their worshipping fans
U2 performed a sold out show Monday at the Saddledome. Attendance about 18,000. A second sold-out performance takes place tonight.
You’d think it was the second coming of Christ. Actually, it was the first coming of U2, but with all the passion and frenzy this concert has inspired since it was announced last January, mistaking it for a religious event would have been easy.
Bono does nothing to discourage such thoughts. Last Friday in Denver, he tweaked the lyrics in the spiritual anthem One, singing “Have you come here to play Jesus? Cause I did.”
So the Saddledome was kind of a church Monday night, with U2’s particular brand of rock spirituality aiming to save souls, and Bono, 40, relishing the role of fiery gospel preacher.
It’s a role he played well.
The house lights were still on when the band casually sauntered on stage. It was a subtle move that caught the crowd off guard and provoked a feverish roar. The stage set up was also subtle, compared to the flashy, conceptual excesses of 1997’s PopMart Tour where in the band, at one point, walked out of a giant disco ball lemon.
There were no lemons for Calgary. Just a bare-boned stage, surrounded by a giant, heart-shaped ramp which Bono circled throughout the night, a pulpit from which he reached to all corners of the stadium.
In the middle of the heart were about 300 lucky fans, who lined up all day to take advantage of the show’s general admission policy on the floor so they could be as close to the band as possible.
They got their wish in spades, able to reach up and touch Bono, as he strutted past them, dressed head-to-toe in black, with his tinted shades and slicked back hair.
The set-up created a sense of intimacy with the audience that many felt U2 lost in recent years.
They began their set with the new rocker Elevation before kicking into the bombastic joy and optimism of Beautiful Day, as blinding white lights lit up the stage.
In one surprise, the band played Until the End of the World, one of the more obscure tracks off 1991’s Achtung Baby.
It was a great moment with Bono and The Edge demonstrating their powerful chemistry. At one point, the two went head to head, Edge playing a matador to Bono’s snorting bull jagged, razor-sharp notes bringing Bono to his knees, finally knocking him over backwards like lightning from heaven.
Much to the audience’s glee, the band offered up a good helping of their greatest hits, from I Will Follow to the seething highlight, Bullet the Blue Sky.
But they also served a number of tunes from the new album. Most of them went over exceptionally well with the crowd singing along.
Reports that the Elevation Tour is strictly a back-to-the-basics affair are exaggerated. There are frills.
On Mysterious Ways, Bono moaned with ecstasy, lying on his back atop a rising pillar. Inside the pillar, was the erotic silhouette of a dancing woman. By the song’s end, Bono pressed himself against the female figure, suggestively. On New York, curtains and lighting created an impressive effect, where the band’s shadows loomed like giants.
Throughout drummer Larry Mullen Jr. proved what a rhythmic powerhouse he is, switching gears from the dance rhythms of Discotheque to the muscular, militaristic march of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Bono re-staked his claim alongside the likes of Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison, as one of rock’s great front men. Like them, he’s an actor, communicating emotion like a young Marlon Brando.
All images are © Calgary Sun; © Reuters