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"I was reading about Jack Kerouac smoking a bag of grass and praying, literally, for a vision of a language or a way of writing that would be both precious and trashy. That's what I'm aiming for." — Bono



by JJ

Allow me to add another "wow" to the reviews. By my estimation, this was my 18th U2 show, and my first in 13 years - and, to my surprise, this show was one of the best of them!

I wasn't even gonna try to attend any of this tour's shows either (I attempted to get into Madison Square Garden for one of the Elevation shows, btw, but the scalpers were scarce that close to 9/11), but then when I read they were playing lots of stuff from the "Boy" album (in addition to the resurrection of "40" as the closer) I just had to go.

And I was not disappointed. I have to disagree a bit with a previous reviewer, though, and say that the band was not the tightest I've seen them. My English major's conscience forces me to back that up with examples, though... so in addition to COBL lyric/verse swap, there was a time during yahweh when bono had to give a four count when the song broke down in the middle, and Larry got to his keyboard late in "yahweh".

There was also a mix-up during "Original of the Species" going into the 2nd chorus (I think Bono went into it early, and he exchanged a funny glance like "get with the program, edge!" with the poor man stranded out there in keyboard-land. The mix-up with Edge starting off on the wrong instrument for "Original" has already been remarked upon, and was indeed pretty humorous. I must say that I actually like the live/piano version they played much better than I like the more guitary album version)

And, best of all, Bono had to four-count AND conduct (by waving his arms, all conductor-style) Adam toward the end of Sunday Bloody Sunday (oh, Adam - some things never change!). I also caught a few more partial verse swaps.

So why then, with all those mistakes, was this show one of the best I've ever seen? Because ultimately, WHO CARES ABOUT MISTAKES?!?! Actually, to me, their miscues just make them more embracable, more human. Plus, Bono - true to form - was keeping the band on their toes, improvising A LOT and making them come in at odd intervals.

And this is one of the many things I love about him as a live performer - his willingness and ability to take risks in the moment with ad-libbed lyric changes, variations in rhythm and cadence, and gorgeous improvisational melodies. He had me chuckling in amazement (I do that sometimes when I'm overwhelmed/awed) at some of his inspired vocal flourishes and melodic meanderings.

What was even more amazing about this show, though, was that Bono's voice was THE BEST I HAVE EVER HEARD IT live! It boggles my mind that he can be singing better now, with more and stronger command of his upper range, than he was in his early 20's. F-ing unbelievable! Especially considering that his voice was, as Larry once put it, "toast" during the ATYCLB album/tour.

And, of course, what U2 show would be complete without Bono's between-song orations, urgings and pontifications? I thought his speeches were - as they are most of the time - on point and very moving.

I loved how he said, before "Miracle Drug" that he has (and we need to have) "faith in science". Only our man Bono could shed some light on the great divide of creationism vs. evolution being fought in our school systems with such a simply evocative, mediating phrase. He should have a business card that reads: "Paul Hewson: Bridging Ideological Chasms Since 1980".

The only drawback of the show, for me, was my seat - I was in one of the "corner" sections in back of the stage, and I have to say I was surprised by how much my view was blocked by those damned light-curtains (or whatever the hell they are). Luckily, they were pulled away for more than half of the set.

And, in perusing past set lists for this leg of the tour, I suppose - if I tried really hard - I could make myself upset by the absence of "The Ocean", "Bad", "New Years Day" and "Party Girl".

But Bono soaring and improvising his way through the old classics they did play really made the show for me. And maybe they can bust out those other songs when I go to my 19th show in Boston next week... And if those lovable Irish bastards continue to hold out on me there, I just might have to go to a 20th. They've got me right where they want me, those boys. 'Cause after tonight's show, I am once again putty in their hands.

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