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"'Streets' is the gift that keeps on giving. The way it reinvents itself every tour is probably part of the magic — we've never got bored with it." — Willie Williams

Night Two: One Life, One Concert

- June 14, 2001


So here I was, the Phoenix's venerable and not exactly hip Arts editor, on
my way to my first big rock concert last Wednesday and primed for adventure,
but not the kind where the T terminates at Government Center. I wound up
hoofing it down streets with no name, taking in the atmosphere as I passed
the Grand Canal, where the patrons were spilling onto the sidewalk and
"Pride (in the Name of Love)" was blasting from the speakers. Once inside
the FleetCenter, I realized that the "Elevation" of this tour would apply not
just to our spirits but to the prices in the Fan Zones: $20 for a cap or program,
$30 for a T-shirt, $65 for some sort of pullover. Not to mention the price on
my ticket: $130. Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie
Hall back in March went for $76 and were, sorry lads, more rewarding. On
the other hand, a first-balcony seat at Pops Opening Night last month was
$135, and I heard better music at the FleetCenter. What's more, the guy in
the dalmatian suit turning cartwheels down on the floor had it all over John
Lithgow in his kangaroo outfit.

And I was getting to watch "the best band on the planet" -- even if Bono
didn't address that issue Wednesday. I did wonder why the best band on
the planet have to put so much effort into milking the crowd, and why the
show had to look more like a WWF evening than a musical event. But Bono
bounced all night and belted when he wanted to. "Elevation" and "Beautiful
Day" lost some of their rhythmic kinesis, the unsettling images of "Until the
End of the World" got lost in the roar (at least there was the Judas kiss Bono
planted on the Edge), and there was no "Peace on Earth." On the upside,
weaker All That You Can't Leave Behind tracks like "Stuck in a Moment"
and "New York" and "In a Little While" benefitted from the arena approach
(i.e., pumped-up music, unintelligible lyrics), and the closing "Walk On" was
positively anthemic. I passed on sending the president a postcard urging
international debt forgiveness. ("Will he be able to read it?" "Don't worry,
there are people who will read it to him. Maybe you could also ask him to
buy Jenna a beer.") But for all my quibbling I couldn't pass the last Fan Zone
without buying one of those elevating orange and gray T-shirts. Stuck in a
U2 moment, I guess.

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