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[Fans] will pay $100 to see U2, and U2 is not worth $100. -- Bono, 1987

U2 Conjure Magic In The Media

by Spencer Bright

From the opening video clip of the Nazi drummer boy to the live TV satellite link with besieged Sarajevo, horrors as well as delights are thrown at you. U2 are not a comfortable experience - they stir the emotions and rarely leave you unmoved.

They call the show Zoo TV and it's meant to be entertainment, but that's a word woefully inadequate for the bombardment over two-and-a-half hours at this, the first of their eight UK dates to be seen by more than 400,000 people.

It started playfully enough with Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr emerging from containers with giant plastic caricatures of themselvs over their real heads as they did a cartoonish U2 dance.

Then the serious stuff started. Bono in full flight in his black PVC suit, squirming and bending every limb as Zoo Station set the scene. The stage was a mass of scaffolding and rigging like some futuristic city, with 50-foot high radio masts and giant multi-video screens that flashed provocative messages like 'Everything You Know Is Wrong'.

The slogans continued on Real Thing as three Trabants cars were lifted high at the back of the stage, one painted in the flag of Europe, a symbol of unity against a backdrop of chaos that is the theme of this show. The energy and fire were irresistable. Mysterious Ways swayed with the poetic belly dancer wafting along a walkway thrust into the 35,000-strong stadium crowd.

U2 were sticking too carefully toAChtung Baby and earlier classic songs. It was nearly an hour before the moody Stay become the first song performed from the absorbing nwe Zooropa album. Bono lamely explained that these songs were so new the band hadn't had time to rehearse them. When the Edge had his chance to 'sing', he was eerily captivating, chanting Numb as the media effects blasted into overdrive.

In the midst of this orgy of rock married to technology came sobriety as we linked with an American TV journalist and a young Bosnian woman in Sarajevo. 'It's time for action after 17 months,' said Bono.

In a moving plea, the woman said: 'Europe deceided 50 years ago that fascism and genocide won't happen again but it is here.' Bono's response was to heap insults onto the West, adding: 'We are ashamed to be Europeans tonight.' Rock theatre taken into the theatre of war - cynical manipulation or timely concern? It was as sombre a monent as it's possible to find in a public performance as U2 growled into the song Bad.

|Light relief came after the encore with hilarious clips of members of the audience in a 'video confessional box' telling us about their sex lives and where to find a party later. Then Bono came on in his MacPhisto guise - gold lame, platforms, panstick and little red horns, and speaking like a satanic luvvie.

He dialled the office of Ian Lang, the Secretary of State for Scotland but all we got was a politely bemused man asking, 'Would you like me to pass on your message?' while Bono did his best to be horrible. God knows what the man made of the crowd's roars. He hung up after Bono shouted: 'Out damned spot'.

After an uplifting With Or Without You and schmoozy interval in which Bono got a girl from the audience to dance with him on Love Is Blindness, U2 ended on a sentimental I Can't Help Falling In Love With You.

By this time, my head and heart had been put through the wringer, marvelling at the greatest rock band around today playing at their peak.

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