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"I want heaven and hell. We've always been given this choice, to choose between the flesh and the spirit. I don't know anyone who isn't both." — Bono

U2 Feels Right At Home At N.Y. Club Show

- December 06, 2000

by Rob Hill

It hasn't happened in a long time. In fact, not since the early Ronald Reagan
days. But on Tuesday (Dec. 5) in New York, U2 -- looking a bit out of place
at first sight -- took the stage of Irving Plaza, a 1,000-seat club in Union

As they strode out, looking anything like skinny punks with spiky hair, the
members of U2 were clearly men revisiting their boozy adolescent days -- but
this was no greatest-hits revival gig. The veterans of the Irish quartet,
taut and very relaxed, were out to prove that they can rock with the best of
them without any massive lemons, satellite dishes, TVs, or pop art shtick.
Just four guys bringing the house down.

After greeting the roaring crowns with a peace signs, the band launched into
a very loud and uplifting "Beautiful Day." The song soared in its rawness,
bouncing off walls, and bringing memories (for those of us who were old
enough) of what it must have been like to see U2 during its Boy tour. Next,
"Elevation" kept the mood raucous before the band slid into a dreamy, yet
bouncy version of "Stuck in a Moment," which Bono dedicated to late INXS
singer Michael Hutchence. Then things got down and gritty. "We were
influenced by a lot of punk bands," Bono announced, "but none more than the
Ramones. This is for Joey Ramone."

Feeling like they must have been at CBGB circa '77, the band launched into
the Ramones' "I Remember You" with Bono frequently laughing and smirking at
The Edge like a school kid cutting class. By now, the crowd was moving like
an ocean and was ready to explode. After weaving their way through the jazzy
"New York" ("I just got a place in New York, baby"), the opening chords of "I
Will Follow" sent the club into a frenzy. Edge's guitar hammered the
audience, while Bono wailed "Walk Away/Walk Away/ I Will Follow" while gazing
up at the balcony smiling at his wife of 18 years, Ali.

"We've never done this before," Bono said next. "But I want to introduce the
band to y'all. We've been in this band longer than we haven't and keeping a
band together is tough. Just ask Zack De La Rocha and Billy Corgan. They're
here somewhere." After introducing his mates, Bono dedicated the next song to
Salman Rushdie and sang as soulful and delicately as you'll ever hear him on
"The Ground Beneath Her Feet," off the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack.

As they entered the heart of the show, with "Mysterious Ways," "One," "All I
Want Is You," and a "Bad"/"Ruby Tuesday" medley, it became quite clear that
U2 is, no matter what's been done in the last 15 years to destroy this, the
best bar band in the world. It became clear: U2 never left the clubs behind.
They've only brought them with them on their journey. They left the stage,
almost sheepishly, with the same peace signs they entered with.

Immediately, the crowd began chanting "How long / To sing this song" from
"40" before the band reappeared and Bono quipped, "We haven't played this
song since most of you have been alive." "11 O'Clock Tic Tock" appeared to
almost transfer these 40-year-old men into teens, as they shut the world out
and wailed their instruments like that's all that mattered. Bono's voice,
rough and bit raspy wrapped around those lyrics of teenage angst like he was
a kid from Iowa playing in his buddy's backyard. They were, clearly, lost in
a moment -- and so was the audience.

But the band knew that this night had to be taken past the clubs and bars and
all the way to the garage. A cover of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again"
closed the show. The little Irish band who has sold over 50 million records,
toured the world's biggest stadiums a half-dozen times, met with world
leaders, played with Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, and Bob Dylan,
were right back in the garage kicking up the dust and screaming at the world.
Proof that U2 can play in any room in the world where an amp can be plugged
in. Three chords and the truth, baby. Damn, right.

© All Star Music News, 2000. All rights reserved.

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