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, Kite, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, In A Little While, Desire, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Bad, 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.
U2 Shows The Way To Rock An Arena
by Aaron Beck, Dispatch pop music critic
Early last night in a sold-out Nationwide Arena, U2 finished New Year’s Day, and Bono addressed the congregation:
“The last time we saw you, we were looking at you out of a mirror- ball, lemon spaceship. The first time we saw you, almost 20 years ago to the week, we were looking at you inside the Agora, which was about as big as the mirror-ball, spaceship lemon… . It’s nice to be back to Earth … but I still miss that lemon.”
The Irish rock band’s concerts on the Elevation Tour 2001 aren’t exactly stripped-down. Guitarist, lead singer and showman Bono, lead guitarist the Edge, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton aren’t playing on a flatbed truck or anything. Fifteen semis are hauling U2’s stage and gear across the United States.
But for U2, its concerts are a giant step back from the preposterous spectacles that were the past two tours. Popmart and Zooropa tried to entertain football stadiums full (or half-full in some locales) of people with giant video screens, a nightly phone call to the president, hanging automobiles and other modes of frosting.
Bono didn’t make any calls last night, although he did sing into a cellphone handed to him from one of two general admission sections on the floor.
The stage was designed to bring people closer to the band and the band closer to the people. A heart- shaped catwalk 5 feet or so above the floor encircled 300 people close to the stage. The catwalk was designed to allow Bono and the Edge to make the show feel like a show inside the Newport Music Hall (formerly the Agora), and the design did that — at least for the people inside and outside on the floor.
For those in the cheap $45-$131 seats, four video screens in a line above the stage brought fans closer with projected black-and-white images of each band member playing U2 anthems such as Sunday Bloody Sunday, I Will Follow and Where the Streets Have No Name and several songs from the band’s back-to-basics rock album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, including what’s become a tribute to Joey Ramone, In a Little While.
Before the song, Bono said, “One of the reasons we thought we had a right to get together as a band was the Ramones.”
U2 started last night with the house lights up and a new tune, Elevation. They followed with Beautiful Day. The latter — a song of rebirth, living in the present tense, forgetting mistakes and noticing details that make up moments that spill into days and lives lived — was a glorious thing.
All night, the small stage brought the band members closer together musically than they were during Popmart. The Edge strummed a wall of notes, Clayton and Mullens Jr. nailed it all down, and Bono sang as well as he ever has. If only arena rock were played with such skill, conviction, nuance and grace every night, every day would be a beautiful day.
PJ Harvey, who opened for U2, created a menacing, fat sound with her band in songs such as Down By the Water, C’mon Billy and tunes from her new album, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea.
All images are © Dayton Daily News; © Tim Johnson