Opening Act(s): PJ Harvey
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, Mysterious Ways, In My Life-Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Kite, Gone, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Bad-40, Where The Streets Have No Name, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, The Fly, One-Unchained Melody, Walk On.
During ‘Bad,’ Bono sings a brief bit of The Verve’s ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and some of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Time Is On My Side’ and alters the lyrics to “time is not on my side”, likely in reference to his ill father who passes away a couple of months later.
U2 As Good As They Were B4
By Greg Haymes
When U2 last strafed the Capital Region with shows at Knickerbocker Arena and the Saratoga Equine Sports Center nine years ago, they were in the midst of their Zoo TV tour with vocalist Bono portraying the Ironic Pop Star, a role he managed to play only semi-convincingly.
On Saturday night, Bono and the boys returned to the Pepsi Arena (formerly the Knickerbocker), sounding more like the open-hearted rock evangelists that made three stops at the long-defunct Albany nightclub J.B. Scott’s during their first American tour two decades ago.
“I still have my T-shirt that says ‘J.B. Scott’s,’ ” Bono proudly told the sold-out crowd on Saturday.
While some may say the band’s return to form is mere nostalgia, perhaps U2 is simply acknowledging its strong suit - heart-on-its-sleeve rock ‘n’ roll anthems exploring spiritual themes.
They kicked off the two-hour show with “Elevation” and the joyous, life-affirming “Beautiful Day.” Playing on a stage inside a huge red, heart-shaped runway that stretched halfway into the arena floor, Bono and his mates - guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullins - served up new songs, highlighted by the soaring “Kite” and the gospelesque “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.”
Of the old favorites, the back-to-back blast of “I Will Follow” and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” was an undeniable highlight. So, too, was the final pairing of the set, the cathartic “Where the Streets Have No Name” and the galvanizing “Pride (In the Name of Love).”
Along the way, Bono dipped into the grab-bag of rock history, splashing bits of songs by Bob Marley, Buddy Holly and Van Morrison into the mix. But most touching was an impromptu a cappella rendition of the Beatles’ “In My Life.’
Bono was more than a bit under the weather, but he didn’t flag. During “Until the End of the World,” he and The Edge engaged in a mock bullfight, with Bono eventually collapsing on the runway and kicking the strings of his bandmate’s guitar in a barrage of feedback.
His voice sounded most ragged during “Stay (Faraway, So Close),” performed as a quiet duet with The Edge on acoustic guitar, but Bono’s crackling voice made the song seem all the more poignant.
While U2’s music tapped directly into the bright white light of hope, opening act PJ Harvey clattered through the dark shadows of the heart. Clad in a slinky, ruby-red sequined dress and matching high heels, Polly Jean Harvey wailed through the new (“The Whores Hustle, and the Hustlers Whore”) and the old (“Man-Size”) as her versatile backing quartet built the momentum to the apocalyptic “Big Exit.”
All images are © Hayley Coristine; © Steve Mains