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"I just don't want to go through what I call the Interesting Music Phase. That really means 'We just don't get it.'" — Bono

U2 a voice of concern

- January 04, 2007

by Patrick MacDonald

How long? How long must they sing this song?

U2 is just about the last rock band still carrying the torch of political and social responsibility. Last night at KeyArena, in the first of two shows (the second is tonight), Bono and company delivered the same message they have been preaching for a quarter century. In their youth, they sang about the struggles and bloody politics of their native Ireland. Now their concern is for the whole world.

In the most dramatic moment of the two-hour show, the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights scrolled across a video screen above the stage.

Bono urged the audience to join the One Campaign, started by the band to aid various causes, especially in Africa. He asked that lighted cellphones be held aloft, and they lit the whole arena. Bono saluted the charitable work of Bill and Melinda Gates and World Vision, which has its headquarters here.

"In the name of love," Bono sang, "want more in the name of love."
He invoked the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, saying "He had a dream to fit the whole world," as flags of many nations were displayed by way of strings of bright lights.

But perhaps no band can have as much fun, and express such joy, while still delivering a serious message.

Bono was full of energy and sass, and electrified the crowd, which stood and danced and joined in the action.

He pulled two women up from the audience to dance and play with him. He gave one of them a piggyback ride. Both got hugs and kisses.
"It's a beautiful day!" he sang, working the waters of Puget Sound into the lyric.

Songs from the new "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" were featured, along with such U2 classics as "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "New Year's Day."

Opening with "Love and Peace or Else," a kind of self-parody from the new CD, they then launched into "Vertigo."

The crowd sang along to "Elevation" and became involved in other songs spontaneously. At the finale, during the song "40," based on the 40th Psalm, each member of the band departed separately, with drummer Larry Mullen the last to go. But their audience kept singing "How long to sing this song, how long?"

The crowd was a mixed assortment of U2 believers, some wearing vintage U2 "Boy" T-shirts, another fan sported a simple "I [heart] Bono" shirt. A pair of fans paraded through the floor with a giant, canvas U2 banner, high-fiving their compatriots.

Perhaps no one, however, was as fervent as Ian Aranha of Seattle, who is deaf and fought to have sign-language interpreters at the show. He was there with a small group of deaf and hearing-impaired fans. "I had to make several angry calls," he said through interpreter JoAnna Ball, of Seattle. Ball and interpreter Jeff Wildenstein have been memorizing lyrics and practicing for a month to get ready for the show. "We actually analyze the song and try to convey the emotion," Wildenstein said.

Opening for U2 was the up-and-coming band Kings of Leon, who've gained a lot of interest with songs like the emotional, searching "California Waiting." In concert, they were much punkier, relying on fast beats and booming bass. It's too bad Caleb Followill's vocals seemed to get lost in the KeyArena rafters.

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