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"As a band we have a giant collective ego. It picks us up. Anyway, I don't think I'd be a good bank clerk. Or a hot dog salesman. I might be a good president." — Bono

Lennon Recalled As Bono Powers U2

- December 08, 2005



Lennon Recalled As Bono Powers U2

By ERIC R. DANTON, Courant Rock Critic
This review is reprinted from Thursday's late editions.

It was a raspy-sounding Bono who took the stage Wednesday night when U2 played to a packed house at the Hartford Civic Center.

A solid year of touring will do that to a person.

But the iconic singer powered through a few hoarse moments as he and his mates delivered 20 songs spanning U2's 25-year career and some of the Irish band's influences.

John Lennon was chief among the latter. Bono dedicated the show to the late singer, who was murdered 25 years ago Thursday, and sneaked in Beatles and Lennon lyrics to several of U2's songs. The crowd roared each time, but U2's own songs were the main attraction.

The band performed on a sleek, modern stage, augmented by a horseshoe-shaped runway that curved through the crowd, and various lighting configurations, including a series of lighted beaded curtains that were among the coolest stage effects of any act touring this year. They shimmered in the dark on the opening number, "City of Blinding Lights," and produced images of crosses, crescents and Stars of David on "Sunday Bloody Sunday." As Larry Mullen Jr. tattooed a martial beat on the drums, Bono called on the crowd to embrace the idea of co-existence with those who are different.

It was one of several political statements the singer made, and not all of them were verbal. Wearing a white headband over his eyes like a blindfold, Bono kneeled during "Bullet the Blue Sky" and crossed his hands over his head at the wrists, mimicking a pose used during interrogations. The band also projected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights onto its video screens as a female voice read aloud the various tenets (after the crew worked out a technical glitch).

Most of the time, though, Bono simply sang. He and guitarist the Edge work together like they're extensions of the same brain. As Bono played up the seductive lyrical rhythm of "Elevation," the Edge dialed in a dirty buzzing sound on his guitar. The two built the chorus of "Beautiful Day" into a joyous explosion of reverberating guitar and soaring vocals, and the Edge nailed the staccato dikka-dikka-dikka riff on "Pride (In the Name of Love)" as Bono reached up for the high notes.

The rasp in Bono's voice enhanced the emotion of "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," and conveyed the deep-seated sense of yearning that drives "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

U2's main set lasted 17 songs (including a brief bit of the Beatles' "Help!") and about 90 minutes, and then the band returned for a three-song encore. "Until the End of the World" led to the swampy riff of "Mysterious Ways," and then the quiet opening strains of "With or Without You" began filling the arena. The Edge's clanging guitar riff unfurled midway through like a sail catching the wind, and the song glided to a breathtaking finale. The band returned for a second four-song encore that opened with "Stuck in a Moment" and finished with "40," from 1983's "War."

Contact Eric R. Danton at edanton@courant.com.

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