Opening Act(s): PJ Harvey
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Kite, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, In My Life-Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, In A Little While, Desire, Wild Honey, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Bad-Everybody Hurts-40, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways-Sexual Healing, The Fly. Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, Pride (In The Name Of Love), One, Walk On-Hallelujah.
Wild Honey debuts and is performed acoustically, with Bono and The Edge at the heart and Daniel Lanois on guitar at the main stage. Lanois also performs there during The Ground Beneath Her Feet. A few of the celebrities spotted at tonight’s show include: Michael Stipe, Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, The Beastie Boys, Gavin Friday and Guggi.
Punk Rock Notions
by Josh Valentine
New York, London, Paris, Munich. Well, in this case it’s Miami, Buffalo, Albany, Hartford, Boston, New York, and East Rutherford. Not exactly what you would call the best of America. Especially Hartford. Man, I’d forgotten what a dump that place is. Ten shows in all on this Elevation first leg. From decadent Miami Beach all the way back to The Meadowlands. I experienced the birth and, possibly, the peak of U2’s finest hour. But, to end it in Jersey… man, what a hell hole.
New Jersey sucks. The people are obnoxious, the traffic annoying, the accents irritating, and the stench sickening. Don’t get me wrong, I was raised and lived in Jersey for a long time. I love New Jersey. It’s produced some legends like The Boss, Little Steven, Paulie Walnuts, Lawrence Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Route 17, you name it. It’s just when Bono sings “Twenty years ago… I walked these streets,” during “I Will Follow,” he’s not singing about the beautiful avenues of Rutherford, Lyndhurst, or Newark. He’s singing of the other nastiness that is Manhattan. You know, the island across that river? Anyway, even Bonovox can’t warm up to New Jersey. Yes, Manhattan is also a dump, but at least it’s home to the most stimulating, culturally-enriching (if you’re rich and white), hottest melting pot of an amazing city on this rock we call Earth. So, when U2 visits the gorgeous confines of The Meadowlands and it’s many unmarked graves for former “made guys,” it’s like an extension of their NYC jaunt. Not a bad deal.
U2’s show in Buffalo could not top this one. Although it did tie it for first place. The band’s stay in the upper regions of the Northeast was, in some respects, a sort of homecoming. Buffalo’s crowd embraced the raw energy which still exists from the band twenty-five years after its inception. Albany saw Bono feed off the crowd’s powerful loyalty in light of his illness and inability to hit some key high notes. Hartford saw the comeback kid prove that he and his band still have it and NEVER lost it in the nineties (that’s right… the ten year “experiment” was the best thing to happen to the band… so shut up). The four night stay in Boston was the first leg’s big to-do. A film crew, the inevitable “old-school” setlist inclusions like “11 O’clock Tick Tock,” “Out of Control,” and “Party Girl,” and the return to the first American city to really embrace the unique sound that is U2.
When reaching the promised land in New York City (or, should I say, the NYC area) for the final four shows, U2 had it made. The show’s production was in it’s peak mode; everyone knew their place; and the band was ready to prove itself once again.
In a recent interview in Toronto, Bono made mention of the fact that U2 came out of punk rock. He also pointed out that most of their doings from 1976 onward were composed of punk rock notions… the fact that the band felt like they were part of the audience. U2 were never a punk rock band and never tried to be or sound like their idols The Ramones or The Clash or The Sex Pistols. But, they have also not forgotten where they come from. Their “roots,” so to speak. They have been together even before they were a band and before they were able to play their instruments. When reaching the home of The Ramones in New York City, they came to prove themselves when they shouldn’t even have to. Twenty-five years, many millions of dollars, and a lot of mainstream exposure later, U2 came to the Big Apple to show that they are the greatest band on the planet. Well, at least for those four nights.
The final night in New Jersey saw a culmination and a slight tweaking of the “standard” Elevation setlist. It’s important to point out what was omitted because, well, I just feel like it. Gone were songs like “Gone” with it’s newly revamped guitar duel between guitarist (The Edge) and singer (Bono). Other rarely played POP tunes like “Discotheque” or “Staring at the Sun” will most likely resurface in Europe. Surprisingly absent from the NY/NJ run were songs like “Angel of Harlem” and “All I Want is You,” two of which I thought were shoe-in alternates. Of course, the band is going to have to start playing “11:00” and “Control” a little more.
Anyway, off with the horns and on with the show…
ELEVATION The greatest U2 opener ever. Next to “Mofo” and “Zoo Station,” of course.
BEAUTIFUL DAY If Bono leaps stage right, you know you’re in for an “on” night.
UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD One of U2’s greatest songs performed to near perfection in the great toxicity of Jersey.
NEW YEAR’S DAY One piano. One Edge. Only one song in need of a piano. Only U2 could get away with this. Why not play “The Sweetest Thing” or “Running to Stand Still” or “October” while that thing is still up there?
KITE The strongest version I’ve witnessed. It’s about letting go. And that’s what they did.
NEW YORK So, this live version gets better every time I see it. I remember being home in Boston three weeks earlier only to hear chants of “Yankees suck!” at a U2 show. I do hate the Yankees and I hate the Red Sox even more. But leave that stupidity outside.
I WILL FOLLOW Could have been “Out of Control” or “11:00” or both! There’s always the third leg.
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY An Irish flag was thrown from the rafters into the hands of love. While and American flag was left behind.
IN MY LIFE STUCK IN A MOMENT The gospel of U2.
IN A LITTLE WHILE The gospel of U2, with a little bit of Joey Ramone’s soul. I’d like to hear you try this, Mr. Rollins.
DESIRE The usual “Desire” medley of “Gloria” and “Not Fade Away” was omitted for the next surprise
WILD HONEY The “world premiere” of this tune brought out Mr. Daniel Lanois on guitar and vocals. He added the lap-steel effects you hear on the album.
THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET Bono and Edge’s acoustic rendition has come a long way from Miami. With a little more Lanois.
BAD STREETS Classic.
MYSTERIOUS WAYS U2 at their funkified best. Adam and Larry’s finest seven minutes.
THE FLY Nothing could top the version in Buffalo when Bono donned my neighbor’s Fly shades, but this one held my attention. It’s an interesting concept when this song sometimes precedes “With or Without You:” you take the sincerity of The Joshua Tree era and follow it with the Fly on the wall, and you’ve got elevation. But those are just labels of their career, really.
BULLET THE BLUE SKY This amazing rendition has basically turned in to a death warrant for Charleton Heston (still an ass) and Mark Chapman (a bigger ass).
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU Women at the tip of the heart… get ready.
PRIDE Martin Luther King… still sings. Yes sir.
ONE Preceded by an ovation for spectator Bill Clinton… still feeling loved.
WALK ON That “Hallelujah” bit at the end is why I stay to the end of each and every Elevation show. Hallelujah indeed, the greatest band of all time has just completed yet another authentically punk rock, anthemic, soul digging, essence of love pounding on the hearts of all things human, rock and roll spectacle.
Now, as easy as it is to put music into words (it’s freaking impossible), it’s even harder to describe the true nature of this amazing band. They have been together since they were fifteen and sixteen. Larry was fourteen. That’s a long time to be with three buddies. The music is pure. The playing is much-improved. To me, the greatness of U2 all started with the BOY album with it’s widescreen, anthemic soundtracks and punk-rock riffs, lined up with a voice so powerful and soulful, yet so darn white. U2’s greatness was highlighted by ZOO TV’s rendition of “Running to Stand Still,” with it’s revamped chord structures and the band’s urging to bring an 50,000 seat stadium to intimacy. The greatness of U2 was in Popmart and all of its excesses. And in Passengers with its ambience. Elevation 2001 is U2 at full circle. No, it is not a return to roots. Their roots come from music played in their teens. Elevation 2001 is the further exploration of those punk-rock notions Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Larry aspire to. To conquer the world with satellite television; to stroll down the catwalk in a fifty-foot lemon; and to now dig deep for the soul they have been searching for. The goal is soul.
All images are © Associated Press; © Bill Almoney