Opening Act(s): Dashboard Confessional
City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Elevation, The Electric Co., The Ocean, Walk On, Beautiful Day-Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Yahweh, 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): Discothèque, The Fly, With Or Without You, All Because Of You, The First Time, Bad-40.
Bono sings a bit of 'Break On Through' during Electric Co. Bono and The Edge do Walk On acoustically. Bono forgets the words at the end ('All that you...') and wants The Edge to end the song, but he doesn't. Bono finally finds the lyrics after flipping thru a stack of pages brought out by a crew member, cracks a joke about the situation, and the song ends. There's no Pop Muzik intro before Discothèque. He sings the line 'Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car' at the end of The Fly. Bono and The Edge perform The First Time (the first time the song has ever been played in full). Bono tells the crowd that a fan outside had asked to hear something from Zooropa tonight.
U2's Well-Worn Arena Rock Script Rouses Fans
How many U2 members does it take to screw in a light bulb? Four: One holds the bulb while two others participate in Bono's press conference regarding the social, economic and spiritual ramifications of using electricity to illuminate a room.
Joking aside, there is little middle ground among rock fans regarding U2's frontman. Supporters applaud Bono's efforts to fight AIDS, promote human rights and alleviate poverty around the globe. Detractors think Bono epitomizes the self-absorbed windbag rock star who pumps up his ego by telling fans how they can help him change the world.
Bono, of course, was the center of attention Tuesday as U2 brought its "Vertigo" tour back to the United Center for the first of two sold-out shows. The same venue hosted four sold-out U2 shows in May during the initial leg of the tour, and two-thirds of Tuesday's set list consisted of songs that U2 played at the venue on May 7. The band also used the same elaborate stage design, which had a gigantic, oval walkway that encircled a group of fans standing in a pit near the stage.
The bulk of the concert was a meticulously rehearsed, carefully choreographed presentation of hit songs, social commentary, video segments, cinematic lighting and Bono's trademark theatricality. But despite the relative lack of spontaneity, the Irish quartet -- particularly (and perhaps surprisingly) drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- delivered an engaging, hook-heavy, expertly executed arena rock show.
Bono kept his speeches short, so they didn't disrupt the show's pacing. Two of the evening's highlights occurred when U2 ventured away from its well-worn script.
Accompanied solely by the Edge on acoustic guitar, Bono sang a passionate version of "Walk On.'' In the midst of this tune, the singer forgot the words and requested that a roadie bring him a lyric sheet. Bono recovered splendidly from this slightly awkward glitch, which injected some unexpected humor into the proceedings.
During the second encore of the 140-minute show, U2 surprised hardcore fans with "The First Time,'' a rarely performed song from the 1993 album "Zooropa.'' Bono's muscular vocals were particularly effective as he crooned, "He said I have many mansions / And there are many rooms to see / But I left by the back door / And I threw away the key.''
This lovely tune was one of a handful in which only Bono and the Edge performed. The band was at its peak, however, when all four members locked into a groove. Bassist Adam Clayton held down the low end with graceful panache, and Mullen proved once again that he is one of the best musicians in rock 'n' roll.
Bono may get all the press, but Mullen provides the musical bedrock that makes this quartet such a powerful live presence. His rumbling kick drum on "Miracle Drug'' and bright cymbal splashes on the classic "One'' were just as mesmerizing as any of the Edge's textured guitar solos. The soaring vocals and fine fretwork on hits such as "Beautiful Day,'' "Sunday Bloody Sunday'' and particularly "Where the Streets Have No Name'' gained much of their power because they were merged with Mullen's inventive percussion.
Mullen's style is straightforward enough to rouse an entire arena of fans but complex enough to keep the songs from growing moldy over time. The best vantage point at a U2 show isn't in the pit near Bono, but on the side, about 20 rows up, where fans can carefully study Mullen as he works his magic.
Crisp versions of "The Electric Co.'' and "The Fly'' were reminders of the depth of this band's impressive oeuvre. By mixing old material with recent songs, the group attempted to satisfy both its faithful followers and those who own only U2's most recent album, the uneven "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.''
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