Opening Act(s): Dashboard Confessional
Vertigo, I Will Follow, The Electric Co., Elevation, Beautiful Day, In A Little While, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, City Of Blinding Lights, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Miss Sarajevo, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One-Ol’ Man River. Encore(s): Zoo Station, The Fly, With Or Without You, All Because Of You, Fast Cars, Yahweh, 40.
The Vertigo Tour’s 3rd leg opens in Toronto, where U2 has already played two performances for Hurricane Katrina relief. Bono makes several references to the Gulf Coast during the show. Before ‘One’ he compares the devastation there to the images of extreme poverty in Africa. He adds a bit of ‘Ol Man River after One (its a 75+ year old song from the musical ‘Show Boat’ which addresses the struggles of life along the Mississippi River). Fast Cars is played live for the first time ever and In A Little While is played for the first time since the Elevation Tour. ‘40’ isn’t on the printed setlist, but closes the almost 2.5-hour show. Daniel Lanois and Leonard Cohen are among the celebrities at the show.
The Globe and Mail
Bono skillfully balances humbug with sincerity
By ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN
‘Sexy people, Toronto people, don’t get too big for your boots, with your film festival,” Bono called out, a few songs into U2’s show at the Air Canada Centre. “Don’t forget your rock and roll.”
No danger of that, and no real need to warn against it. U2 had sold out all four of its Toronto dates long before the reels began spinning at the continent’s biggest film spree, along with all 46 of the remaining stadium dates on this leg of the band’s world tour.
From another angle, however, Bono reminding us not to forget rock and roll was a bit like a magician telling you to keep your eyes on the black silk hat. You just knew that some kind of transformation was about to take place.
In fact, it already had. U2’s dominance on the stadium circuit has much to do with the way it has translated the sounds and postures of rock into something that seems to express much more (or less, for the unbelievers) than the need to kick out the jams.
From the start, last night’s show was more about jubilation than about throwing over the restraints of everyday life. (I’m not counting the compulsive singing along, but more on that later.) For the first half-hour at least, you got the feeling that each song was a full-volume offering of praise.
But praise for what? Praise for the gift of a beautiful day; for the way you make me feel like I can fly so high; for the acknowledgment that sometimes you can’t make it on your own. Mainly, for the capacity to feel that light and decency can be shared and expressed, with all the bone-shaking power of a Marshall stack.
The band came ready to please, launching the show with a barrage of hits and crowd favourites, beginning with its biggest single of the year, Vertigo. It didn’t matter that this song is all about disorientation and disquiet. In practice, it meant the same thing as Beautiful Day. When the band got to I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bono stuck his microphone in the air and the crowd sang the first chorus, and that too became a beautiful-day moment.
We knew we were getting down to the real source of the magic when Bono suggested we should feel for a moment as if we were in church. It was the cue for a well-placed series of iconic attitudes, including a scarcely credible sequence in which glitter fell from the ceiling and he walked along an oval catwalk with his hands in a palms-up position common to portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary. You might have thought that this glitter was manna from heaven.
Some time before, Bono had got on his knees and pulled a rag from a disbelieving roadie’s hand, so as to mop up some water he had flung at the crowd. It was a tremendous gambit that completely upstaged the fiery solo the Edge was trying to put across at the far end of the catwalk.
In Ireland, blarney might be the word for this kind of theatre. Here it’s probably enough to say that Bono is a rock star who hasn’t lost his swagger so much as he has tamed it to his own ends. He is the master of a finely balanced mixture of humbug and sincerity.
“We’d like to turn this next song into a prayer, and the prayer is that we do not turn into a monster in order to defeat a monster,” Bono said, before launching into Miss Sarajevo, a song about the beauty of everyday things in impossible situations.
The show as a whole (as much as I could catch before deadline) was sleek and efficient, with a stripped-down set and lighting design that still managed to meet the opposing needs of intimacy and monumentality. The catwalk was underused by Madonna’s standards, but U2 is up to a very different kind of transformation than hers, with less need for kinetic display.
The whole drama was contained in Bono’s subtle control of gesture, both physical and verbal, and in the bright, glimmering, expensive guitar sound pouring from the Edge’s guitar and Adam Clayton’s bass. It was more than enough for a wildly supportive crowd.
“We’re just getting started here,” Bono said. “This whole band is just getting started.”
Copyright © 2005 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photos by Aaron Harris (AP).