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The people we'd choose to describe the condition of the world are not often the people God would choose. The chosen may be punk rockers or hip-hop people. But nonetheless, the state of the world will be described.-- Bono, 2004


The Bono Show: U2 Rattle Your Bum

- October 01, 1992

by Sal Serio

UW-Madison Camp Randall Stadium

One slight disadvantage of our monthly publication is that sometimes a review of a show that transpired weeks earlier may seem old hat by the time we go to print -- especially in this instance, since we were subjected to levels of hype previously unseen around this little college town. However, after it was all said and done, I believe that my reflections on the biggest concert in Wisconsin history may bring this chapter appropriately to a close, especially after viewing some of the slanted bile that some of our more respected local journalists spewed out.

Admitting the sickening degree of excess involved in this spectacle (some might say debacle) is one thing, but in the long run, you have to hand it to everyone (and everything) involved with the Zoo TV Outside Broadcast: it worked. There were very few of the 65,000 in attendance that went home disappointed.

Its a little funny though, at times U2 themselves seemed dwarfed by the enormity of the stage show, with its great wall of speakers, TV screens, and high-tech video gimmicks. If it werent for leader Bonos larger than life presence, one may have forgotten that they were watching a live band perform.

Indeed, from the moment the Irish rockers hit the stage, opening with practically every hit single from Achtung Baby (yeah, thats right, get all the top 40 fodder out of the way), all in attendance were quite overwhelmed by mass sensory overload. In addition to the obvious fan participation (singing, clapping, drooling), there were rapid fire subliminals flashing constantly, and the video collage made it seem like wed all been sucked into the MTV channel, Tron-style.

What stood out as unique, as far as the music performed? Well, prior to the concert, I had mentioned to a friend that I wanted to hear some older U2 material, like Gloria, which happened to be the first non-Achtung selection they played. Immediately after that gem, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. (my favorite U2er) stepped up to the mic to sing the traditional Irish pub song Whisky in the Jar a capella which seemed to take a lot of folks for a loop, much to my amusement.

The other two covers offered up that fine evening made the biggest impact, as is evident by the press coverage that Im sure weve all read by now. The acoustic rendition of Lou Reeds Satellite of Love was cool and appropriate enough (the line I love to watch things on TV was both an understatement and a summation of Zoo TV), but when Reeds solemn face flickered ghost-like onto the video screens to duet with Bono, emotions soared. The finale, Elviss Cant Help Falling in Love (also acoustic) was a sweet tip of the hat to the original rock and roll animal (pass the Seconal please).

Other entertaining moments included Bonos hands-on relationship with the audience, such as when he walked into the crowd on Until the End of the World and slow danced with moistened female fans on Love Is Blindness and Tryin to Throw Your Arms Around the World (I bet those gals are still giddy).

To put this whole event into the proper perspective, Ill quote pasty white and boney Bono, who played off of the images of Dr. Martin Luther King during Pride (In the Name of Love). Sayeth the diminutive superstar, I have a vision -- television. Yeah, thats about right.

Opening acts Public Enemy and Big Audio Dynamite II each had brief 35 minute sets to try and get the human ocean into motion.

BAD IIs frontman Mick Jones ought to be embarrassed with the schlock that his current outfit puts out. Once a vital performer with something to say (remember the Clash?), now just another corporate hack going through the motions. Rush, the last of the six disco cuts plodded out by Jones and company, got the crowd dancing, but too late to legitimize their weak showing. Micks own description of BAD IIs sound (half live and half DJ jams) says it all in less-than-complimentary fashion. Wheres Joe Strummer when you need him?

Public Enemy had better luck in pumping us up, even though the P.A. system didnt seem to want to cooperate. Prophets of Rage Chuck D. and Flavor Flav hit the deck hard and didnt stop moving until their allotted slot had expired.

The politically charged rap masters took aim and fired at the Ku Klux Klan, which hopefully made some impact, considering the growing ranks of scumbag Ken Petersons local Janesville Klan chapter. Arent things already screwed up enough in the world without adding fuel to the fire with racial hatred?

Chuck D. took the opportunity to clear the air over some of the controversy surrounding Public Enemy. According to the outspoken Mr. Ridenhour (thats Chuck D., boy-y-y), P.E.s incendiary lyrics tell the plight of the black man, but we stand for peace. Weve got only one planet, so dont f#*k it up. Peace and power to the people!

The youngsters in attendance seemed to be able to relate more to the rap music than some of the older folks, but in general, P.E. got a much warmer response than BAD II. Those who were dancing (such as myself) gave it to their all.

It was great to hear the anthems Bring the Noise, Fight the Power, and By the Time I Get to Arizona, performed with butt-kicking energy and enthusiasm, even though the bass-heavy mix was teetering on the brink of total distortion. In retrospect, one of the cleanest sounding raps was probably the most relevant to the whole Zoo TV circus. Can you guess the cold stomper Im hinting at? DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE! Believe in yourself instead.

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