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"I am still amazed at how big, how enormous a love and mystery God is — and how small are the minds that attempt to corral this life force into rules and taboos, cults and sects." — Bono, foreword to They've Hi-Jacked God



U2 touches down in N.J.

- May 18, 2005

by JOHN PETRICK

The Irish supergroup U2 brought their own brand of political rock-and-roll theater to a sold-out crowd at Continental Arena Tuesday, complete with glittery confetti flying, glow-in-the dark runways, smoldering dry ice and the ever-strutting, ever-sensitive front man Bono.

"Tonight, Jersey is going Irish," said the lead singer, dressed in black leather coat, black pants and dark shades as he stood at the lip of the stage. Making a dramatic entrance just before 9 p.m., the band launched into fiery performances of "City of Blinding Lights" and "Vertigo." Both are from from their latest album, "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

The band quickly backshifted into songs from their past, including "Elevation" from 2000's "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and "Electric Co." from 1980's "Boy."

A giant oval runway surrounding the stage made for plenty of interactivity with the audience, with Bono often patrolling it as he sang and even taking a little girl from the audience for a stroll down it early in the concert.

Bono introduced the song "Miracle Drug" by preaching of how religious faith and scientific progress should be complimentary - not contradictory - practices. "The people of God should not be afraid of the people of science. They need each other," he said.

Guitar player The Edge - in fine form along with the rest of the band - transmitted the telltale, militant guitar riffs that open the U2 classic "Sunday Bloody Sunday" as Bono changed into a starred-and-striped leather coat and white bandana. With his ominous, soulful wail as strong and strenuous as it was when the band first came up in the 80s, the lead singer augmented the songs middle by preaching words of coexistence and religious tolerance.

Despite the earnestness of much of the night's concert, their were a few light-hearted moments. Bono and band mates occasionally swaggered their way around opposite curves of the giant runway until meeting in the middle, being playful with each other during such other hits as "Where the Streets Have No Name" from the 1987 masterpiece "The Joshua Tree."

But the mood never stayed light for long. As opposed to Bruce Springsteen, whose political grandstanding during the "Vote for Change Tour" put off many die-hard fans, a U2 concert without political activism would be like a day without sunshine.

"My first impression of America was a man walking on the moon. We thought, Americans are mad. But when they put their minds together, they do incredible [expletive]," Bono said, drawing cheers. "It was the best of this country. So thats what we're saying to President Bush, Tony Blair. ... We are saying, Lead, and we will follow. Because we don't want you to put a man on the moon. We're asking you to bring mankind back to earth. We're asking you to end extreme poverty in our lifetime, in places like Africa. "

He then called upon the audience to help do their part, by getting involved in the One Campaign, which Bono launched earlier this year. The campaign asks Americans to lobby their elected officials so that developing countries ravaged by poverty and AIDS can get assistance from the United States. "We have the technology, the resources, the know how."

With that, he asked the audience to take out their cellphones and raise them on high, in a symbolic pledge of their support. "They're dangerous little devices, those cellphones," he said. "I'm not looking for your money. It's all right. Relax. I'm looking for your voice. ... Take out your cellphone and light up the night."

The band never sounded more together than during its performance of "(Pride) in the Name of Love," a bitter-sweet, triumphant anthem paying tribute to Martin Luther King. The audience never sounded as together, either, as the band eventually stopped playing and let the crowd chant a portion of the song without accompaniment.

The 90-minute set might have seemed short - but then came four encores that included all four band members joining one another at the outermost limits of the stage's runway for a quiet performance of "Yahweh" from the new album. And, for a band whose latest album brings them back to their post-punk roots, it only seemed a fitting climax that they ended where they started - with another, even more rousing version of "Vertico."


* * *

Here is the list of songs performed by U2 at their concert Tuesday night, May 17, at Continental Arena. Songs are listed from start to finish, song titles first, followed by album and release date.

1. "City of Blinding Lights" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
2. "Vertigo" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
3. "Elevation" from "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (2000)
4. "Electric Co." from "Boy" (1980)
5. "An Cat Dubh" from "Boy" (1980)
6. "Beautiful Day" from "All That You Can't Leave Behind" (2000)
7. a few verses of "Blackbird" by The Beatles sung by Bono, accompanied by The Edge
8. "Miracle Drug" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
9. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
10. "Love and Peace or Else" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
11. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from "War" (1983)
12. "Bullet the Blue Sky" from "Rattle and Hum" (1988)
13. "Running to Stand Still" from "The Joshua Tree" (1987)
14. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" from "Unforgettable Fire" (1984)
15. "Where the Streets Have No Name" from "The Joshua Tree" (1987)
16. "One" from "Achtung Baby" (1991)
Encores:
17. "Zoo Station" from "Achtung Baby" (1991)
18. "The Fly" from "Achtung Baby" (1991)
19. "Mysterious Ways" from "Achtung Baby" (1991)
20. "Original of the Species" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
21. "All Because of You" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
22. "Yahweh" from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)
23. "40" from "War" (1983)
24. Vertigo (encore) from "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" (2004)


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