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More than a boss, he's the owner, because more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen owns America's heart. -- Bono, from his induction speech for Springsteen at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

by Drew

It had been four long years since Id last seen U2, which was in Pittsburgh for the POPMart tour, so needless to say, I was more than excited when I managed to snag tickets for opening night of the Elevation Tour in my new hometown of Miami (well, Ft. Lauderdale, but close enough). The crowd was really slow to come in (I think security was taking extra precautions about the safety for the general admission seating on the floor), so most people missed out on a great opening set by The Corrs, but by the time U2 came on, National Car Rental Center was packed. Here is a song-by-song review of the show:

1. Elevation--The band took to the stage with the house lights still on. It was a surprising entrance, especially after the way they took to the stage at POPMart. The crowd went nuts, and the band simply started to play, with Bono really playing to the crowd. The song worked really well as an opener, and it hasnt surprised me that theyve stuck with it as the tours progressed.

2. Beautiful Day--Everyone was singing along to Elevation, and they kept doing so for this one too, which I liked, because when I saw POPMart, the crowd wasnt entirely into the new stuff. It was really cool that the songs off All That You Cant Leave Behind were being so well-received. The band had been playing this one in promotional appearances for months, so they were in top form with it already.

3. Until the End of The World--It surprised me that a (relatively) old song made it into the set so early in the show, but this is one of my favorites, especially in a live setting, so I wasnt complaining. Not much in the way of reworking the song, but I cant say as I ever thought it needed any work. Right as Edge was starting his solo in the middle of the song, Bono accidentally fell off of the catwalk into the middle of the heart. Im not sure how many people saw it happen, but everyone in my section certainly noticed. In any event, he wasnt hurt, and spent the rest of the solo casually lounging on the floor of the catwalk, then got up to finish the song.

4. New Years Day--Another old one, which I didnt entirely expect to hear, but theyve been using the transition from UTEOTW into this one since ZooTV, and it still works really well. Another crowd pleaser.

5. Stuck in a Moment--This wasnt one of my favorites off of the new record, but its growing on me, and this performance certainly helped me appreciate it more. Bono flubbed a few of the words in the third verse, but it wasnt anything that hurt the song. Edge did a fantastic job with the falsetto part at the end and drew a large round of applause from the crowd for it.

6. Gone--This was one of my favorites from POP, and it still sounds great, but you could tell that the crowd still wasnt crazy about the songs off of that record. Bono messed up a few more words, but the band pulled it off relatively well.

7. Discotheque--As the song started, Bono talked about how they recorded some of POP in Miami, which drew a few cheers from the crowd. Then he said how they would have recorded more had they not had so much fun on South Beach, which I thought was kind of funny, especially if you know what South Beach is like. Anyways, the crowd warmed up to this one a little more than it did for Gone. This was one of the better songs in the POPMart show, and its still good, although this performance was cut a little shorter, as the band went straight into...

8. Staring at the Sun--This was kind of an abbreviated performance, but with the whole band. Pittsburgh was one of the last shows where the entire band played this song, and I always thought it worked better than the acoustic version did, so I was happy the entire band played on this performance. The medley of this and Discotheque works pretty well.

9. New York--Again, not one of the better songs off of the new record, but Id heard them play it on Farmclub.com, and it was really good, so I was actually looking forward to this one, and they didnt disappoint. During the song, several curtains running from the ceiling to the stage were lowered, and spotlights projected the images of a city, as well as Bono striking the pose of the Statue of Liberty. Cool effects that really strengthened a solid performance.

10. I Will Follow--Bono introduced this one as our first single, so for a minute I thought they were going to play 11 oclock Tick Tock, which would have been really cool, but we got this instead. The song was going OK until Bono really messed up the words to the second verse, and the band ended up cutting the song short after about only two minutes or so. Im not sure that this song really fits into the setlist, so if it doesnt stay on, I dont think itll be a big loss for fans going to later shows.

11. Sunday Bloody Sunday--As soon as everyone heard Larrys drum riff, the whole place went nuts. I really couldnt believe what I was hearing, since this one hadnt been performed by the whole band since the 1st leg of ZooTV, and it was nothing short of incredible. After Edges solo, Bono started throwing in snippets of Bob Marley songs. Get Up, Stand Up worked especially well. After the last verse, Bono was out on the end of the catwalk, and he grabbed an Irish tricolor from a fan and started yelling With pride! For the first time, with pride!, which was really cool. Its interesting to see how a song of protest has taken on a new life as Ireland approaches something of a real peace, and this performance really reflected that. After the song ended, Bono introduced the band, calling Larry, the man who gave us our first jobs, and he wont let us forget it. Adam was introduced as the jazz man off the band, and Edge as a man with more children than Abraham. One by one, they came out to the edge of the catwalk, waved to the crowd, and hugged Bono. A really nice moment.

12. Sweetest Thing--Edge started playing this really gorgeous guitar part, and I wasnt really sure what was coming until Bono started singing the oh oh oh part of the refrain and then sat down at Edges piano, saying For the first time!. This has been one of my favorites since it was re-released in 98, and it was a really nice way to chill out the crowd. Bono did a really good job on the piano part for this.

13. In a Little While--This was one that the crowd really loved. It sang along with every single word. Not much different than the studio version, except that Bono did a really amazing job on the falsetto part, hitting a bunch of notes that arent even on the studio version. Anyone who says that his voice is shot should check out this tour, because it was in fine form tonight.

14. The Ground Beneath Her Feet--Im a big fan of the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack, so I was hoping theyd play this one. Although I know that some people wanted to hear the whole band play it, Edge and Bono harmonizing together with an acoustic guitar was simply gorgeous.

15. Bad--When I was leaving the POPMart show, I heard this song playing in someones car and really wished that they had played it that night, so this one was probably at the top of my wish list for this show. When the sequencer and Edges guitar part started I started cheering at the top of my lungs. One of the best versions Ive ever heard of this song, and that includes about a dozen or so bootlegs of old shows, not to mention the Rattle and Hum movie. Bono threw in the Lou Reed Walk on the Wild side snippet tonight.

16. Streets--Although most fans I know count this among their favorites, Im of the opinion that they should probably put this song on the back burner for awhile. Nevertheless, the band gave a good performance of this song, although it was more akin to tours like ZooTV and Joshua Tree, as opposed to the extended length it got on POPMart. At the beginning of the song, Bono was saying something over and over again, but he was pretty much drowned out by the crowd screaming, so I have no idea what it was. Towards the end of the song, any lingering suspicions that Bono had been hurt in his earlier fall were dispelled as he did about two or three laps around the heart, collapsing on part of the video wall behind Larrys drum kit.

17. Mysterious Ways--Here we found out why Bono was laying on the video wall, as the riser he was on went up about 8 feet into the air to reveal the image of a gyrating go-go dancer. It eventually came back down so Bono could get off of it, but then it, along with the rest of the wall rose up and down with more dancers on it. At one point, Bono mimicked their movements. This is another song Im getting a little tired of in concert, but the video effects helped it out a lot. Willie Williams certainly succeeded in his design for the stage setup on this tour.

18. The Fly--This one was really unexpected. Edge started playing this really odd guitar riff, and nobody knew what song it was until Bono started singing the Love, you shine like a burning star... part of the chorus. Then they launched into it. Of any song performed, this one was definitely reworked the most. Edges feet must have been working overtime to step on all the effects pedals this one required. Not to mention that the song had been transposed into what sounded like a major key, which made it sound really weird at first, but eventually I got really into it. The video wall started flashing all of the old images and words from ZooTV on it, including the beLIEve one, which I had always thought was really cool. At the end of the song, Bono left the catwalk again, although this time he intentionally jumped into the crowd that was outside the heart and (with a crew of security guards surrounding him) tore off for an exit in the back of the arena. A cool way to end the regular set.

19. Bullet the Blue Sky--After the disaster that was the POPMart version of this song, the band was on fire with it tonight. It was a lot closer to ZooTV, which I always thought was the best version of it. Edges guitar solo was really hot, and at the end of the song, Bono spent the spoken word part with a hand-held spotlight, flashing it all over the crowd, a la Rattle and Hum. This was easily one of the top moments of the show.

20. With or Without You--Still probably my all-time favorite U2 song, and it was again beautiful. For some reason, Bono repeated the second verse of the song. Someone said that it was because he needed to kill time until Edges guitar was plugged back in, but I dont recall the guitar ever dropping out of the mix, so who knows? In any case, this was another highlight. At the end, Bono said, Thank you and goodnight, and the band left the stage. Even if they planned to come out again in advance, I dont think U2, or any other band, for that matter, could refuse to play another encore with a crowd cheering as loudly as the one at NCRC did.

21. One--In any case, they did come back out to play this one. A lot people said that it was an abrupt way to end shows on the POPMart tour with this song, but I always thought it worked really well. The fact that it was nearly perfect tonight only gave me more reason to think so. At the beginning of the song, Bono asked the crowd, So, how was the first night for you?, to which he got an almost deafening reply of cheers. This crowd was definitely one of the most enthusiastic Id ever heard at a show, U2 or otherwise.

22. Walk On--This song had just come out as the second single from ATYCLB, so Id expected it earlier in the show, but in retrospect, the lyrics of the song make it a good closer. A fine way to finish an excellent show.

Overall, this was musically the best Id ever heard U2 sound. I really enjoyed the spontaneity of the performance. Whereas ZooTV and POPMart were pretty scripted because the special effects had to match the songs, this tour feels like they could drop in any song at any time, and judging by the songs that have appeared since this night, that seems to be the case. U2 are a band that reach their peak towards the end of a tour, so, given how good they were on opening night, I cant imagine what theyll sound like 3-4 months down the road. Anyone who has the opportunity to see this show should make ever effort to do so.

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