Opening Act(s): PJ Harvey
Elevation-Mr. Tambourine Man, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, Discothèque-Staring At The Sun, New York, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Kite, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, In A Little While, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), 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-Forever Young, Walk On.
Bono adds parts of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ in ‘Elevation’ and sings an abbreviated ‘Forever Young’ at the end of ‘One’ as tribute to the legendary singer who turned 60 years old today.
U2 Hit Lift-Off At ACC
Bono and band in outstanding form as Elevation 2001 Tour thrills Toronto fans
By Jane Stevenson
TORONTO — Bono may not have his magician’s license.
But there was plenty of levitation, rock ‘n’ roll style, going on at last night’s wildly uplifting U2 show — the first evening of a sold-out two-night stand at the Air Canada Centre.
The frontman for the veteran Irish band, who became a dad for the fourth time just this past Monday, playfully led his group through an energized and exciting two-hour concert in front of some 18,000 fans. Ê Touring arenas in North America for the first time in a decade, U2 have strived to get closer to their audience this time out by performing in smaller venues on their Elevation 2001 Tour and constructing their tiny stage inside a heart-shaped, red-coloured catwalk on the floor.
The intimacy thing appears to have paid off, both for them and their faithful following. Ê About 300 lucky concert-goers, who payed for general admission tickets, lined up early to receive wristbands that would allow them inside the hollowed-out heart with the band.
As U2 did on their opening night two months ago in Florida, Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., casually strode into the arena with the lights fully up and launched the concert with Elevation from their latest album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind.
Bono, who’s been dropping other people’s songs into U2 classics since the beginning of the tour, wasted no time with the opener as he shouted out “Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!” and then sang a snippet of Mr. Tambourine Man as he patrolled the catwalk. (Dylan turned 60 yesterday and for the encore, Bono delivered an abbreviated, stripped-down version of Forever Young.)
Clearly two months of touring, not to mention the heady experience of siring a son, have bolstered the singer’s already awesome stage presence. When Bono wasn’t lying down on the catwalk or diving off it into the crowd, he was running sprints around it.
As for The Edge, his trademark echoey-guitar sound was the other highlight of a big-sounding show.
“We played the Maple Leaf Ballroom (a 300-seater on St. Clair West) here about 20 years ago, and I just want to say, you have a lot of patience,” said Bono. “It’s taken us a few years to get back in a ‘club’. We have a lot of mates here in Toronto, and it’s just really spoiled us.”
The band followed their equally powerful second song, Beautiful Day, with Until The End Of The World, and to the delight of fans, Bono and The Edge played bull and matador, respectively, on the catwalk while audience members stretched out their arms towards them.
The fourth tune of the night, Discotheque, saw Bono perched at the very front of the catwalk holding onto fan’s hands while he grooved to the music, and the follow-up, New York, proved to be just as effective a hipshaker.
Another big improvement over opening night was the show’s pacing, with nary a dull moment last night. They made better use of the four overhead video screens, onto which black-and-white images of each individual band member were projected, along with transparent screens that dropped down around the stage.
Bono got more serious on the fifth and six songs, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of and Kite, dedicating them to his late friend, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and “people you love,” respectively.
But the group quickly upped the energy level again, most dramatically during I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday — which prompted the first big singalong of the evening — and the barnburners Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways and The Fly.
Another difference from the tour launch was the inclusion of an anti-gun film right before Bullet The Blue Sky, which showed CharltonHeston spouting pro-gun nonsense before an unattended little girl ran through her livingroom and stumbled upon a weapon.
It took Bono until the encore before he mentioned his newest family member: “Thanks to my missus for giving me such a beautiful boy.”
In the same speech, he thanked Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin for all he’s done towards third-world debt. “In Canada, you’re leading the way on debt issues. So you’ve got to give him credit. He’s a good man.”
Famous fans spotted at last night’s show included movie star Harrison Ford, who took in the Oasis/Black Crowes gig at the Molson Amphitheatre earlier this week and also reportedly attended David Gray’s Warehouse concert last month. Who does this guy think he is? Leonardo DiCaprio?
Opening last night for U2 was British singing-songwriting dynamo PJ Harvey who was chosen by the band for their entire North American tour, although she was unable to make the launch in Florida due to a nasty fever. (Canadian Nelly Furtado was chosen as a last-minute replacement for two early dates.)
Harvey, backed by a loud, tight four-piece, certainly seemed fully recovered last night as she howled her way through an 11-song, 45-minute set dominated by material from her latest, New York City-inspired album, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea.
All images are © Associated Press; © Toronto Sun