Opening Act(s): Kings of Leon
City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo-Stories For Boys, The Cry, The Electric Co., An Cat Dubh-Into The Heart, Beautiful Day, New Year’s Day, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Zoo Station, The Fly, Elevation. Encore: Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One, All Because Of You, Yahweh, 40.
The Vertigo 2005 Tour opens up in San Diego, California, with confetti falling around the full stage as Bono sings ‘City Of Blinding Lights’ from out at the edge of the ellipse. ‘The Cry’ and ‘The Electric Co.’ are played for the first time since 1987, not counting the dress rehearsal two nights ago. ‘An Cat Dubh-Into The Heart’ hasn’t been played since 1984. Larry helps sing during ‘Elevation’ and plays keyboards during ‘Yahweh.’ The concert ends with a full version of ‘40’ just like the ’80s, with each band member leaving the stage separately and a brief drum solo from Larry.
U2 opener uneven yet uplifting, unifying
San Diego Union-Tribune, 03/30/2005
by George Varga
It isn’t uncommon for even the most legendary of rock bands to try to cast a final spell of musical magic with their show-closing encore.
But there is little about U2 that is common, even by legendary rock-star standards. And what made its final encore so memorable Monday at the ipayOne Center was that the sold-out audience of 14,500, not the four-man Irish band, performed the final refrain of “40.” And that concluded the opening night of U2’s “Vertigo/2005” world tour, at what was formerly the San Diego Sports Arena.
A stirring song of unity, redemption and divine inspiration based on Psalm 40 from the Bible, “40” dates back 22 years to the band’s third album, “War.” Or as Bono, U2’s iconic singer, told the cheering crowd: “We haven’t played this one since 1983,” when it was a staple of the group’s sets.
One by one, band members exited the stage, leaving drummer Larry Mullen Jr. to lay down a snappy backbeat as the audience sang the refrain of “40”: How long to sing this song? When he, too, left the stage, the audience continued singing, a cappella, even after the house lights came up.
Were it not for the prerecorded music that began blaring over the sound system, it’s possible some fans might still be singing in the arena, where the band performs the second show of its tour tonight.
Such is the power of U2 and its most powerful songs, which combine earthy rock ‘n’ roll rhythms and chiming guitars with uplifting messages of faith and hope for a better world.
True, there were a few bumps Monday night, as might be expected at the opening of one of the year’s most anticipated tours. These included uneven pacing and a sense of playing it safe rather than engaging in the heady risk-taking that has characterized some of U2’s best onstage moments.
Those missteps aside, U2 generally performed with winning poise and panache, beginning with its first two numbers, “City of Blinding Lights” and “Vertigo,” both from the band’s uneven new album, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.”
Bono sang a snippet of the Police’s “King of Pain” during “Vertigo,” and quoted both The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” during “Electric Company.” Later, in 1987’s classic “Bullet the Blue Sky,” he segued into the “The Hands That Built America,” which gave both songs greater resonance. “Bullet” was made even more powerful by the blindfold Bono wore for part of it, which used drawings of a Muslim crescent moon, the Star of David and a cross to form the word “CoeXisT.”
U2 should find its footing - and the heart of its still-evolving show - as the tour progresses. There were enough memorable moments Monday to leave fans, some of whom came from as far away as Norway and U2’s native Ireland, buzzing.
And while the band delivered rousing versions of such still-vital U2 classics as 1984’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and 1983’s “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” U2’s members strived to make Monday’s show more than just a heady walk down memory lane.
Six of the 23 selections performed were from its new album. And two of them, the Who-inspired rave-up “All Because of You” and the surging “Yahweh,” provided a solid, one-two punch before “40” brought the show to a close.
For longtime fans, the treats also included strong versions of three rarely performed early songs - “The Electric Company,” “An Cat Dub” and “Into the Heart” - all from the band’s 1980 debut album, “Boy.”
The concert marked U2’s sixth appearance here at the arena, where the quartet first performed in 1982, opening for the J. Geils Band. In contrast with those more simple, streamlined times, on Monday the Edge used a different guitar for almost every song, often triggering an array of other instruments with a single strum.
Bono, whose humanitarian efforts have made him a Nobel Prize contender, jokingly referred to himself as “Little Lord Jesus.” But he was deadly serious during “Pride,” when he not only paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. but implored the audience to battle poverty in Africa.
“(King) wasn’t just talking about the American Dream,” Bono said. “His dream was bigger than that. It was a dream big enough to fit the whole world. It was a dream where everyone was equal under the eyes of God. Everyone - European, Asian, African, African, African.”
Later, as the text of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights was projected on video screens, Bono urged U2’s fans to help eradicate poverty in Africa by signing up to join the nonprofit One campaign (www.one.org).
“We’re looking for 1 million Americans to go to work, proving that equality exists in Africa as well as America,” Bono said.
Coming from almost any other band or singer, such entreaties would probably sound contrived or hollow. But from U2 and Bono, whose impassioned song, “One,” was another concert highlight Monday, it rang perfectly true.
© San Diego Union-Tribune, 2005.