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"To me, it's embarrassing that all these white kids are playing their dad's music wearing their dad's clothes while some 17-year-old in Compton is making the music of the next century." — Bono




U2 raises crowd to new Elevation

- April 29, 2001

by Kerry Lengel

Stars within fans' reach as tour leaves spectacle behind

U2 is billing its current "Elevation" tour as a stripped-down, back-to-basics, all-about-the-
music return to the good old days before the stadium extravaganzas of "Zoo TV" and
"PopMart."

But don't let the absence of supersize cartoons and giant lemon mirror balls fool you: The
Irish superstars' concert Saturday night at America West Arena was a painstakingly planned
tour de force of arena-rock showmanship.

After an energetic (if coolly received) opening set by post-punk diva PJ Harvey, the four lads
from Dublin hit the stage in laid-back style. Casually dressed under undimmed lights, they
launched with no fanfare into the soaring, soulful Elevation, from their current hit album, All
That You Can't Leave Behind.

Bono started working the crowd almost immediately. Singing easily and striding along the runway
that looped onto the floor, he stretched out his hand to his adoring fans. It was a gesture he would
repeat all night, now teasing them by waving his fingers inches from theirs, now grasping hands
firmly like a Pope offering his blessing.

Is this guy a rock star or what?

At first the staging was low-key. Four video screens offered close-ups of each band member in
understated black and white, and after the house lights went down, the band was illuminated by
simple spotlights during such serious-minded anthems as New Year's Day. But before long it
was time to serve up a little spectacle in return for the top dollar fans had spent on tickets.

During New York, giant scrims were lowered so Bono's undulating shadow could be enlarged to
mythic proportion. For other songs, there were dazzling light patterns dancing across the faces
in the packed arena, or colorful animation on a series of video screens that rose and then
disappeared behind the stage.

As for the music, well, these guys are pros. While Bono plied his rock-god shtick, the Edge
pounded out those ringing guitar riffs that define U2's sound. As always, Larry Mullen Jr.'s
eloquent drumming laid the rhythmic foundation, with a little help from bassist Adam Clayton.
Whether playing the fierce and pounding Sunday Bloody Sunday, the grandly hypnotic Bad
or the angular, serrated The Fly, they recaptured the energy that has made them legendary
live performers.

The sheer breadth of the band's two-decade repertoire made for some odd clashes in tone. One
minute, Bono was crossing himself and praising God during Where the Streets Have No Name,
and the next he was shaking his pelvis at the technicolor silhouette of a video-screen dancing girl
during Mysterious Ways.

The band performed these transitions with practiced ease, but what held it all together was the
deafeningly devoted crowd, which sang along as readily to new tunes such as Beautiful Day as
it did to already immortal anthems like Pride (In the Name of Love) -- the concert's heart-swelling
climax.

After that, a return-to-casual encore of One and Walk On was just the proverbial icing.

SET LIST:
Elevation
Beautiful Day
Until the End of the World
New Year's Day
Kite
New York
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of
In a Little While
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Bad
Where the Streets Have No Name
Mysterious Ways
The Fly
Bullet the Blue Sky
With Or Without You
Pride (In the Name of Love)
ENCORE:
One
Walk On

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