Opening Act(s): None
- The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
- The Electric Co. - Send in the Clowns - My Kind of Town - I Can See for Miles
- Vertigo - It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
- I Will Follow
- Iris (Hold Me Close)
- Cedarwood Road
- Song for Someone
- Sunday Bloody Sunday
- Raised by Wolves
- Until the End of the World - Love and Peace or Else Intermission
- Even Better Than the Real Thing
- Mysterious Ways - Young Americans
- Ordinary Love
- Every Breaking Wave
- Bullet the Blue Sky - Anthem
- The Hands That Built America - Pride (In the Name of Love)
- Beautiful Day - My Kind of Town - I Remember You
- With or Without You Encore(s):
- City of Blinding Lights
- Mother and Child Reunion - Where the Streets Have No Name - California (There Is No End to Love)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - People Have the Power
U2 hit Chicago for the first of four shows on the Innocence + Experience tour. Bono isn’t feeling well physically and he has some difficulty singing at times. In attendance tonight is the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Bono sings a few lines of “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” for him. Also in attendance is U2’s former manager, Paul McGuinness, as well as celebrities Chris Rock and Jimmy Buffett. Other notable moments at the show include Bono congratulating the Chicago Blackhawks for their recent Stanley Cup championship win during “Elevation, and Bono exclaiming “Dr. King, we need you now more than ever in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in Charleston!”, during the bridge in “Pride”.
U2 review: Big ideas, no-frills songs at United Center
by Greg Kot
Bono dropped a little mission statement into U2’s concert Wednesday, the first of five at the United Center.
“We care about beautiful, inarguable songs,” he told the audience. Fair enough. But sometimes the inarguable fades into facelessness in the studio when the production doesn’t measure up.
So often throughout its career, U2 has relied on its live performances to reveal the songs behind the sound, and it’s tempting to ask for a do-over of its latest album, “Songs of Innocence” after witnessing this show. Despite the album’s flat, slick surfaces, the Irish quartet made its latest material the centerpiece of its current tour. Imagine another arena band 35 years into its career putting so much emphasis on its latest studio album on stage, when a greatest hits show would suffice.
U2 came out blasting, with the first song from its new album, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone),” and made it sound like something worthy of the Ramones. Stripped to its essence of guitar-bass-drums, U2 remains a mighty power trio prodding and pushing a vocalist who didn’t let nagging bronchitis get the best of him.
The first four songs toggled between early and present-day U2 with head-down ferocity, illuminated by a single giant light bulb, and set the tone for the night. The music, shorn of studio fussiness and radio-ready primping, had a jump to its step, a vitality that carried through more than two hours and 24 songs in what added up to U2’s most convincing Chicago performance in more than a decade.
Not that the show wasn’t ambitious. But it underlined its philosophizing and multimedia dazzle with a performance that would’ve sound equally at home in a small club, all buzzing amps and guitar, bass, drums booming with unusual clarity and crispness in the acoustic swamp that is the United Center.
The show traced the band members’ journey from adolescence to adulthood, from a boy’s bedroom on the north side of Dublin to a would-be citizen of the world on the doorstep of America. It took place on a stage that stretched the length of the arena, with a long tunnel sandwiched by video screens joining two platforms. It allowed Bono to lead a virtual tour of his old neighborhood on “Cedarwood Road,” lament the mother he lost when he was 14 in “Iris (Hold Me Close)” and revisit the bedroom where he wrote songs for his future wife in “Song for Someone.”
The private struggles and tragedies turned into the mayhem of Ireland in the ’70s, the world of riots and bombs shaped by “Sunday, Bloody, Sunday” — with Larry Mullen Jr.’s cannonlike volleys on a lone snare drum and Adam Clayton’s bubbling reggae bass — and the brutality and poignancy of “Raised by Wolves.”
The ominously titled “Until the End of the World” brought the first half of the show to a crashing close — conjuring as bleak an atmosphere as I can ever recall at a U2 show. The Edge’s corrosive guitar melted into feedback and then an interlude built on “The Wanderer” and a video of the late Johnny Cash. As Cash aged from Sun Records upstart to craggy elder statesman on the screen, he sang of his reckless, potentially self-destructive desire “to taste and to touch and to feel as much as a man can before he repents.”
There was nowhere to go but up, and the show’s second half tried to point a way out: the band punching through a virtual Berlin Wall dividing the arena, and then convening on the smaller second stage to play contemplative beauties such as “Ordinary Love” and “Every Breaking Wave,” far more persuasive and moving than their recorded versions. On the latter, Bono’s ailing voice showed the first signs of fraying, though it only underlined the vulnerability of the lyrics.
These more intimate moments balanced a show that also paraded Big Ideas, never more so than when the singer debated his younger self amid the carnage left by the Edge’s guitar in “Bullet the Blue Sky.”
“Who are you?” the teen mocked the adult. “Have you forgotten who you are?”
For U2, the show was in many ways the band’s way of reminding not only its fans, but also perhaps itself, who it is. Visuals, sound and sequencing synced up to tell a story, but it was a story built on emotionally involving songs presented with a minimum of fuss.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune
All photos by © Michael Noble Jr. / Chicago Tribune