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You'll never see the band emerge from the dressing room until at least half an hour after each show, and it's not because they're taking showers. [E]very night the five of us sit down and deconstruct the show. -- Paul McGuinness

U2 retains old hits despite new direction

- November 13, 1997

by Tony Green

U2 brought everything it was supposed to - the 100-foot swizzle stick with the 40-foot olive, the giant golden arch, the block-wide video screen that turned Alltel Stadium into a multimillion-dollar, multimedia room. And it was impressive, even if there were fewer spectators on hand than some would have hoped.

About 20,000 took in last night's stop on the band's worldwide PopMart tour, which meant there were plenty of empty seats in the stadium; most of the crowd was centered on the floor in front of the stage. Those who took in the more than two-hour show got a thank you ''for sticking by us'' from lead singer Bono, and got to see a show that, despite the claims of empty flash and pomposity, was as visually arresting as any this year and featured a satisfying dose of U2's best material.

The show delivered on its promise of high-tech thrills. The huge LED screen projected a variety of images - everything from shots of the band in action to cartoons - in a dizzying array of colors. The band took the stage done up in like a Village People for the '90s; The Edge as a Cowboy and Bono sporting a hooded boxing robe. During a late show version of Discotheque from the Pop album, the band emerged from a giant mechanical lemon wearing Jaguars jerseys.

And, despite the controversy over the band's supposed new direction, the set featured heavy doses of its best-loved material - In the Name of Love, New Year's Day, and Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. And despite all the visual flash, the most interesting tune was an acoustic re-casting of Sunday Bloody Sunday, which featured The Edge on solo vocals.

© 1997. Florida Times-Union. All rights reserved.

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