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"The avoiding substances of any kind is hard but, OK, it's not that hard. It's facing the devil inside you, that's the tricky bit." — Adam



U2 plays, beautiful, rain-soaked day at first-ever N.C. date

- April 03, 2001

by Chandler Carriker

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It's been far too long since music has made people stand up and want to do something. The '80s were bloated with music that had a cause to it and for most the sincerity got to be a bit too much. Even U2, the godfathers of "music with a message," got a bit tired of their sanctimonious nature and revolted with the irony and glamour of the Zoo TV and Pop Tours.

And while the '90s did produce one of the best political bands, despite being brought down by overly leftist views, in Rage Against the Machine, on the whole we've just been lost in a sea of over-sexed teen angst. All of that is left behind, though, as U2 has truly done what they have been hoping to on their latest Elevation tour, reclaiming their spot as the best rock band in the world. Not only have they returned with the spirit and message to do just that, but the music and intensity to back it up.

In their only performance in North Carolina on the first leg of this world tour, Bono & Co. delivered a show as fresh and inspired as anything from their Joshua Tree days, and clearly more so than any other band touring today. Because of a horribly rain-soaked evening the Coliseum filled up slowly, so the nearly capacity crowd was barely settled in their seats when the band confidently strode on stage. No fan fare or light show announced their arrival; in fact, the house lights were still pretty much up as they blew through a blistering version on "Elevation," off of their latest disc. The song served to whip the crowd up into a frenzy of joy and emotion (far from that of anger that most bands rely on now) and announced to the world that U2 didn't need all
the bells and whistles of the past to make beautiful music.

T
followed with the Grammy-winning "Beautiful Day," basking the entire coliseum in bright white and the chorus soared high. Ringing guitar from the Edge, and plaintive vocals from Bono harked back to the U2 of old, while at the same time pushing forward to new ground.

As any band with such a following as U2 has to do, a great deal of emphases was placed on older songs, with militant anthems like "New Year's Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" sounding just as rebellious as they did when they were penned in the early 80's, reminding all that there is still something outside yourself worth fighting for. Also as many bands aging as gracefully as U2 are, they quieted things down a good bit, producing some of the most powerful moments of the show. An
acoustic version of "Staring At The Sun" (from 1997's Pop) with only the Edge and Bono on stage provided both beautiful harmonies and a powerful reminder of the evils of apathy, and an acoustic version of "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" (from the The Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack) left the coliseum silent.

"You came through a lot to get here," said Bono, referring to the downpour outside, "And so have we. Thanks for putting up with us." On this night though all the past sins of this great band were forgotten as they closed out with classic deliveries of "Where The Streets Have No Name," "Bad," "With Or Without You" and an extremely powerful "Bullet The Blue Sky."

There was a bit of flash to the show as "New York" was augmented by enormous shadows of the band cast upon screens, and "Mysterious Ways" grooved along with video screens or dancing girls that seemed drawn from a futuristic James Bond intro. But whenever there was glitz and glamour in the show there was powerful music there to overshadow it.

Closing with a passionate version of "One," U2 began to leave the stage, but in a moment of confusion the band quickly reassembled and delivered "Walk On," the anthem of action off their latest album. "All this you can leave behind," closed out Bono reminding that the heart is the one
thing that can't be abandoned. Truly on this tour U2 has returned the heart of rock 'n' roll, and in doing so may just once again be the greatest bands in rock.

© The Technician, 2001.

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