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"Pop is often the oxygen of politics." — Bono

by Jay

I (also) am writing this many years after the fact (15! years or so). This was my first U2 concert; at the time I'd been a fan about four years, probably just a few months too few, and a year or two too young to have tried to catch them on the Joshua Tree tour.

ZooTV was at the (now old, and gone) Busch Stadium, and though I'd waited in line early the morning the tickets went on sale, my two friends and I ended up with fairly unenviable seats- under the upper deck, many rows back from the field. We were high school seniors, seated in the midst of what seemed like a bunch of 40 year-olds who'd turned out just to see what all the U2 fuss was about. Kind of funny; even then U2 were bridging age groups.

The size of the videowalls was the first thing that struck me when we got to our seats; the sound tower out on the field, and trabants on the cranes. I'd been to many ball games at Busch, and was amazed at how much ZooTV transformed the appearance of the field. The sound tower was like a small building that had sprung up in the middle of the field; the videowalls, stage and catwalk at one end of the field seemed on the scale of a small, flattened vertical shopping mall (for lack of a better size comparison).

This listing, and all the others on the web say the opening acts were BAD II and Public Enemy. To this day I don't think Public Enemy opened the St. Louis concert. I haven't figured out a way to confirm this, however, but I remember people telling me they'd been replaced because they were so controversial (and St. Louis so conservative). I think it was either the Sugarcubes or the Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy that took their place. (I really would like to figure that out someday.)

Anyway, I remember the lights going out in the stadium before U2 came on, everyone going bezerk, the general feeling of excitement. It's hard to remember a lot of specifics so many years after the show; memories are a patchwork of impressions.

In spite of the "gimmickry" of ZooTV, the videowalls and Bono's handicam did serve a very practical purpose of bringing images close to everyone in the stadium. I remember being in awe of "Until the End of the World" which was probably my favorite U2 song at the time, and is still high on my list, Bono hitting the impressive notes on "One", hearing his falsetto live brought the evolution of his vocal style home to me in a way that the new album (Achtung Baby) had not quite done.

I remember the whole stadium cheering and cracking up when Larry came out on the catwalk to sing "Wild Rover" which I think Bono introduced as an old Irish drinking song. "Where the Streets Have No Name" sounded much different from any version I'd heard before; it had the ZooTV treatment.

Another point that stands out was Bono's phone call to the White House and the operator's voice over the sound system, telling him the President was not available. His reply was along the lines of "What? The President has no time for the good people of St. Louie?" Good stuff. Bono had begun turning the world on its head and hasn't quit since.

Satellite of Love was another memorable moment- Lou Reed's image and voice wafting over the stadium from the videowall, a gigantic digital ghost in duet with Bono.

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