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There's a lot going on, but it's not really on the surface. So in this instance, I think this song was sort of tailor-made for me, in that it's a noncommunication.-- Edge, on "Numb," 2002


Cheap date with U2 is priceless

- December 07, 2000

by Elysa Gardner

NEW YORK -- It was the hottest ticket in town -- so hot, in fact, that a posse of firemen joined the crowd that packed Irving Plaza to the rafters Tuesday night to catch a special performance by U2.

It was in clubs like this Manhattan venue, which has a capacity of slightly more than 1,100, that the Irish quartet developed a following.

But since U2 rose to fame in the early '80s, its popularity has demanded that it play in arenas and stadiums. The group has established itself as one of the few rock acts that can make the energy and urgency driving its music accessible even to people in the cheap seats.

At Tuesday's show, U2's first American club date since the '80s, all the seats were cheap. The attendees -- mostly winners of a contest held by the New York modern-rock station WXRK-FM (K-Rock) and a few of its sister stations across the nation, which aired the concert live -- got in free.

While others will have to wait until next year to catch U2 -- in a less intimate setting -- these lucky fans were practically able to see the beads of sweat on frontman Bono's face as he introduced songs from the band's new album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, and delivered a few old favorites.

"This feels like starting over again," Bono told the audience. "It's a very nice feeling."

The audience agreed. Wild applause broke out as Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. took the stage and launched into current single Beautiful Day.

The next two numbers, the delicious Elevation and Stuck in a Moment, which Bono dedicated to late INXS lead vocalist Michael Hutchence, were also from the new CD, which hit stores Oct. 31. But fans sang alon
td waved in time as if they had known and loved the songs for years.

A rhapsodic tribute to New York followed, as Bono recalled how he and his bandmates came of age worshiping Big Apple-based bands such as The Ramones. After dedicating a wistful cover of Things Don't Last Forever to Joey Ramone, the singer segued into New York, also from Behind.

More established hits followed, including early single I Will Follow, '90s singles Mysterious Ways and One, and a riveting version of the '80s anthem Bad.

"It's great to see them getting back to rock 'n' roll," said Jim DeStefan, 31, of Queens, who won tickets through K-Rock. "There's so much falseness in pop music right now -- we really need them."

Lauren Morris, 36, agreed. To see the band, Morris traveled from Minneapolis, where she scored a pair of tickets through KTCZ-FM. "It was very difficult" choosing one U2 fan among her friends to take with her, she added. "I probably owe a lot of favors to people who didn't get to come."

Other fans in attendance included models Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington, rockers Billy Corgan and Shirley Manson, and a number of industry insiders.

One of those insiders, VH1 executive Wayne Isaak, alluded to the firemen -- who, fortunately, were able to spend the evening enjoying the concert -- in expressing his affection for the band.

"I hope the place doesn't burn down," Isaak said. "But if I have to die, a U2 concert would be the place to go."

© USA Today, 2000. All rights reserved.

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