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"A lot of our work in the '80s was very naive. But I like that now. It's ecstatic music. It has a sense of wonder and a joy about it." — Bono

by Douglas Kiang

Last night's show at Giants Stadium was sold out, with the stadium filled to absolute capacity. The band came onstage to a thunderous welcome, and Bono said "Welcome to the New York shows, so big we had to hold them in New Jersey." The video screen on this tour is simply amazing; it's bright, sharp, and stupendously, unbelievably, BIG. I found I didn't even need to use the binoculars that I had brought with me since the camera was usually on one of the four band members and offered a better image.

Last night's set list was pretty much the same as the previous dates, except Edge's karaoke was back to Daydream Believer instead of Sweet Caroline as they have been doing recently. Bono was in top form, from the shadowboxing and strutting around in the beginning to racing around the catwalks during Where the Streets. As the intro to Still Haven't Found, he talked about America being lit up at night by neon. He said, "This stage is made up of bits and pieces of America, all lit up by neon. I feel home with neon." As he segued into "Stand By Me" Bono turned the microphone toward the audience, then seemed to smile and shake his head in amazement at how good we sounded. It reminded me of his expression during "Pride" at the end of the "Rattle and Hum" movie. He offered the audience several more chances to sing the chorus of other songs, and really seemed to be enjoying himself.

Overall, the band delivered a solid, workman-like performance with the songs performed flawlessly accompanied by stunning visuals. Popmart is quite a show. At times, the performance seemed so slickly choreographed that the show seemed to lose a lot of the spontaneity of past shows; no extra songs were inserted into the encores, and Bono kept the chatter to a minimum. Even a band such as U2 are dwarfed by the gargantuan props they are using on their tour, and for me this detracted somewhat from the raw power of their performances in the past. I remember seeing them at Sullivan Stadium in 1987, where even a dislocated shoulder didn't prevent Bono from taking charge of the stadium and filling it with enough of his personality and sincerity to make the stadium feel like a concert hall. Last night's performance, the first of three shows in the New York/New Jersey area, seemed more canned, though it was still great fun to experience.

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