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"[T]hey failed to see that War was an emotional LP rather than a political one." — Bono, on Americans' view of the album

Bobo-fied Rock and Roll

- October 14, 2001

by Jane Stevenson

Bono-fied rock 'n' roll
By JANE STEVENSON -- Toronto Sun

Copps Coliseum, Hamilton
Saturday, October 13, 2001

HAMILTON -- U2's Elevation Tour is still flying high.

Even after repeat business.

Having now seen the Irish rock superstars four times this year -- at their tour launch in March in Fort Lauderdale followed by two sold-out shows at Toronto's Air Canada Centre in May and now last night's Copps Coliseum date -- I'm happy to report the force is still very much with them.

As part of the fall leg of their first arena tour in 10 years, the Dublin foursome visited Steel Town for the first time ever to the delight of 18,000 fans, who snapped up tickets in just over half an hour.

Black leather-clad frontman Bono even scored extra points with the audience, who were waving Canadian, American and Irish flags, by mentioning the group's frequent producer, Hamilton-born Daniel Lanois.

"I'd like to say hello to the Lanois family tonight," said the singer before launching into Kite, from the group's 10-times platinum latest album, All That You Can't Leave Behind.

It was actually an emotional moment as Bono mentioned he wrote Kite for his children although his father -- who passed away from cancer two months ago -- really inspired it.

"I still think about him everyday," he said.

That was only eclipsed by Bono grabbing the American flag out of someone's outstretched arms and burying his head in it -- presumably in remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- after belting out U2's signature political song, Sunday Bloody Sunday with major crowd participation.

Speaking of which, a young, aspiring musician with a placard that read "Me+Guitar, People Get Ready," was plucked out of the audience by Bono and fitted with an acoustic guitar.

As it turned out, he had to be shown the chords but Bono wouldn't let him give up, even as he struggled with the fingering: "I believe in you!" the singer shouted.

The two of them eventually traded duties, with the young man singing the cover of Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready while Bono played the guitar.

It was those moments of spontaneity that have helped to make U2 -- rounded by expert guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- arguably the biggest rock band in the world right now.

The Elevation road show is much the same as when I first saw it, right down to the set list, although the song order was different.

There's still the now familiar heart-shaped catwalk. That dynamite opening of new songs Elevation and Beautiful Day, followed by classics Until The End Of The World and New Year's Day. Bono and The Edge pretending to taunt each other on the catwalk. The hair-raising standouts Where The Streets Have No Name and Pride (In The Name Of Love). And Bono using a spotlight on the audience during Bullet The Blue Sky.

But it really boiled down to how these four men still managed to make the show seem fresh and different.

Like Bono planting a kiss on The Edge's cheek during Until The End Of The World. The Edge singing a snippet of When Will I See You Again before Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of. And reinvigorated versions of Out Of Control --- U2's first-ever single -- Bad and New York and the recent addition of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?

Mighty powerful too, and without any comment from the usually effusive Bono, was the scrolling of the names of the airplane victims from the Sept. 11 attacks on a screen behind the band during the second encore songs, One and Peace On Earth.

Opening last night were techno-pop act Garbage, whose new album, beautifulgarbage, arrived in stores about two weeks go.

As usual, Scottish-born lead singer Shirley Manson was her wonderful, sneering, sexy self in a new short hairdo, a tank top, suspenders and pinstriped pants and sneakers.

Backed by drummer Butch Vig and guitarists-keyboardists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, Manson at one point addressed the audience behind her to inquire: "Does my ass look too big?"

Playing both new material -- standouts were the harder-edged Silence Is Golden, Shut Your Mouth, 'Til The Die I Die and Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go) -- and older favourites I Think I'm Paranoid, Stupid Girl and I'm Only Happy When It Rains, the foursome with a touring bassist offered a pleasing mix of music.

But in the end, they were no match for the awesome power of U2. (More on: U2).

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