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If you believe in what you've just written, you ought to be willing to take it door-to-door, if that's what it takes. -- Bono

U2 wows the crowd

- December 03, 1997


During a television interview Tuesday, U2 vocalist Bono expressed his surprise at the fact that so many Mexicans seemed to know all the lyrics to his group's songs. But the dense traffic on Viaducto heading for the U2 concert at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez that same night, however, would have instantly remedied his gross underestimation of the band's huge popularity in Mexico.

Tickets for the first of two performances in this country had sold out within hours of going on sale back in July. That night, touts were asking for as much as 3,000 pesos per ticket.

Inside the venue, a spate of immense "waves" and taunting between the upper and lowers sections of the crowd filled the impatient wait between the performance of Mexican rappers Control Machete and the appearance of the idols from Ireland. The atmosphere was like a World Cup final.

Eventually the screen behind the stage, reputed to be the world's biggest, displayed the only sight that the crowd of 54,000 wanted to see. Hooded and surrounded by bodyguards like a champion boxer marching to the ring, Bono strutted towards the stage to a huge eruption of cheers and whistles.

Once on stage, he threw a few deft jabs and upper cuts before U2 sent the crowd into a frenzy by opening with their current hit, Mofo.

Classics like New Year's Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday and I Will Follow were blended with more recent material such as Mysterious Ways, Even Better Than the Real Thing and Touch Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me from the second Batman movie.

As if to put any doubts out of Bono's mind, the crowd sang every single word.

The sweeping lights and the relentless display of fast and furious images on the screen added a spectacular visual element to the show.

In response, the lighter-waving crowd provided a light show of its own which was impressive enough to prompt Bono to demand that all the venue lights be switched off. The result was a sea of lights that made the night sky above seem bland. The real stars were on the ground that night.

The coup de grace, however, came with a simulated spacecraft landing on the stage, after the group had left. Then, a gigantic metallic lemon began creeping menacingly along the catwalk. Suddenly it stopped and began to open slowly, creating a scene reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The lemon opened fully revealing U2 inside. They emerged to play Discotheque, their first release from their latest album "Pop".

Throughout the performance, Bono taunted and teased, and wiggled and weaved like a man possessed. He dominated the catwalk like a seasoned supermodel and kept constant contact with the crowd, both physically and verbally.

After Until the End of the World he promptly handed his guitar over to the crowd. Later he grabbed an umbrella and challenged the air to a fencing match.

Nor was he shy about displaying the range of his ample wardrobe with lightening changes of attire between songs. A variety of T-shirts, red goggles and a studded leather jacket were among the items to come off the peg.

Guitarist The Edge was immaculate in his role of right-hand man alongside Bono's inspired vocal performance. His is perhaps the most valid contribution to the armory that makes U2's distinctive sound, particularly in the older material. The Edge even managed to produce a Charleston-style shuffle while playing.

The opportunity for political messages was seized to the full. The image of Martin Luther King dominated the screen behind the band as they performed In the Name of Love. The screen later showed the green, white and orange of the Irish flag become exclusively green -- a direct reference to Bono's views on Northern Ireland.

The choice of One as the final song was perhaps a reflection of the fact that the band had enjoyed the night as much as the spectators. "Thank you for bringing us here," announced Bono. Beyond all doubt, the feeling was mutual.

© 1997. El Universal. All rights reserved.

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