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Why is it that we want our idols to die on a cross of their own making, and if they don't, we want our money back? But you know, Elvis ate America before America ate him.-- Bono, tribute to Elvis Presley, 2004

U2 in Washington, D.C.

- December 06, 1984

by J.D. Considine

You couldn't have asked for a better example of U2's magic last night at Constitution Hall.

Midway through a rousing rendition of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," a cry for peace inspired by the Bloody Sunday riots in Northern Ireland, singer Bono Vox broke off to lead the crowd in a chant of "No more, no war!" A girl at the foot of the stage reached up to hand the singer a small bouquet; Bono accepted the flowers, then lifted the girl onto the stage, embracing her as if in demonstration of the brotherhood the song was advocating. The fans roared their approval.

Moments like that are what live rock 'n' roll is all about, and they happen all too infrequently these days. More common by far is blind adulation and passive acceptance, in which the stars are cheered merely for walking on stage. There was a fair bit of that, too, in U2's concert. There were times when the applause in response to the Edge's guitar flourishes made it impossible to hear what he was playing, and Bono even earned cheers for simply loosening his shirt.

But though the fans' unfettered enthusiasm tended to blunt the band's performance, scaling down the dynamics and removing the risk-taking that made previous U2 shows so invigorating, the songs themselves were still strong enough to occasionally lift the concert to unexpected peaks.

© 1984 The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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