"[I]n the early '80s . . . there was this rather ridiculous idea . . . that if it was big, it was bad. Which of course rules out Elvis."
U2 Lists: Top 10 Moments from Zoo TV: Live From Sydney
July 24, 2014
[Ed. note: This is the 59th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]
Back in college, I took TV production classes and had access to some pretty cool studio and control room technology at Pepperdine University. In my free time, I'd occasionally sit alone in the control room watching my Rattle And Hum VHS tape on the big monitor, and use the controls to make freeze-frames on my favorite moments from the film. The backlight on Adam during "Bad" (as I recall) was -- and still is -- a particular favorite.
Today, I still watch U2 videos like that -- my eyes making mental freeze frames that capture a special moment in the show or what I think is a great camera angle.
Zoo TV: Live From Sydney has been on repeat in recent months while I'm at the gym, and I've found a lot of great moments. Edge's guitar solo during "Bullet The Blue Sky" (and the camera work during it) is a highlight of the whole show. I love the moment during "Streets" when Bono waves at himself on the video screens, and laugh when Adam gets scared by the loud boom during "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car." (It happens at about the 1:33:25 mark; you have to watch him closely.)
But none of those made my list of the Top 10 Moments in Zoo TV: Live From Sydney. Here they are in chronological order, along with accompanying screenshots and explanations why I love them.
1) Bono locks eyes with Adam during "Zoo Station"
I love the intimacy of this moment. U2 is playing a huge concert, one that's being shown on pay-per-view all over the world on the night after Adam missed a show with a nasty hangover. It's the first song of the night and you can almost feel the sense of jeopardy as the band tries to gain its footing. Bono spends several seconds looking over in Adam's direction in what looks like an obvious attempt to check on him and make sure Adam's okay. Adam looks up, smiles and laughs, and you can practically see him thinking, "It's all good. I got this." This happens at about the 6:40 mark of the DVD.
2) What's the photographer doing? (also during "Zoo Station")
This one just cracks me up. Later in the song, at about the 7:50 mark, Bono is hamming it up and posing for the professional photographers on each side of the stage. He's right up in the faces of the group on his left, and this one photographer is fumbling around with his camera the whole time! He never gets a photo while Bono's right in front of him and, by the time he's done fumbling around, Bono's gone to the other side. And to think his photography faux pas has been caught on a Grammy-winning music video. Poor guy. (He's at the bottom of the screenshot below.)
3) Bono & Morleigh in "Mysterious Ways"
If I can ever wrap my head fully around the interplay between Bono and Morleigh in this song, there's probably another whole article to be written. It's one of my favorite live U2 set pieces ever. And for me, the most poignant moment is when Bono reaches out to touch Morleigh but can't ... quite ... get ... there. The whole exchange is a joy to watch, but this moment at the 24:50 mark really gets me.
4) Bono in the audience during "Until The End Of The World"
This moment happens at about 35:40, near the end of the song, when Bono is down in the crowd and almost getting aggressive with them as they get aggressive in reaching for him. And right before he gets pulled back to the stage, Bono makes this lunge at them, almost like an attack. I just love the give-and-take going on and especially the way his lunge makes the crowd react almost like a wave of motion.
5) Exhausted Bono in "New Year's Day"
It's summer in Sydney. It's hot. The show is almost 40 minutes in and Bono's been going pretty much nonstop -- wearing black leather, no less. He's covered in sweat. And after belting out the big "Yeaaaaahhhhh-ohhhhhhhh" at the start of "New Year's Day," he leans over and lets his exhaustion out. This is at about the 37:25 mark, and it's the picture of a performer who's giving everything he's got.
6) Finishing "Angel Of Harlem"
This one's a perfect camera shot. The band is finishing "Angel Of Harlem" and after a short crowd singalong, Bono glances over to Larry to let him know it's time to put a bow on this one. There's a camera positioned right over Larry's shoulder to capture the moment perfectly. This is at the 50:30 mark.
7) Bullet-ing the blue sky
I could go on and on about this entire song and how beautifully it's shot on this video, but the big moment for me is at the 1:08:00 mark when the video screen flames start turning into swastikas. Bono says, "Don't let it happen again," and then BAM! He pushes down on his mic stand as if it's a bomb and the lights explode all around him. Another brilliantly shot and captured moment.
8) The "Streets" girl
Here's my favorite moment of the whole show. I can't watch this without choking up, because this girl in the audience is Everyfan. She's you and me and she's up on a friend's shoulders and she's just dancing away, totally lost in the song. It's a beautiful, beautiful moment. See it at the 1:20:30 mark.
9) Bono gives himself away
As I do with "Mysterious Ways," I think whole articles could be written about the drama of Bono's performance in "With Or Without You." He's fantastic as MacPhisto in this song, and the climax comes at the 1:45:55 mark when Bono opens his shirt to show a bare nipple while singing "and you give, and you give, and you give yourself away." If you're attracted to Bono, you probably like this moment for other reasons. Me? I just find it a potent and perfect visual to describe what's going on in the song.
10) The "Love Is Blindness" girl
MacPhisto's performance continues in "Love Is Blindness," and he gets some help from one of the young ladies in the audience. It's a beautiful scene as they dance and Edge plays his powerful guitar solo, but for me the moment is when Bono takes the girl's hand to his face and has her wipe some of his makeup off. See it at the 1:52:25 mark.
(c) @U2, 2014. All rights reserved.