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"People should be politicized, people should be angry about a lot of things and the peace-and-love thing doesn't sit comfortably with me at all. I'm serious, it doesn't come easy." — Bono




U2 cranks it up

- March 25, 2001

by Jane Stevenson

U2
National Car Rental Centre, Sunrise, FLA
Saturday, March 24, 2001

Sunrise, FLA. -- U2 welcomed fans into their heart-shaped world last night as they launched their Elevation 2001 tour in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,000 at the National Car Rental Centre in this Ft. Lauderdale suburb.

The veteran Irish rockers, playing on a small stage enclosed by a red, heart-shaped catwalk, directly connected with the audience via the striking-looking "in the round" setup, which had been rumoured about for weeks on fan Web sites.

But getting the really intimate show were the 300 ticket-holders allowed inside the large heart. They had lined up outside the venue early yesterday for a much-coveted wristband.

Meanwhile, U2 and the wristband holders were protected from the rest of the general admission audience on the floor -- an issue that had been a safety concern heading into the tour launch -- by the heart-shaped structure. Those in the nose-bleed sections, meanwhile, got a better look at the band, with an impressive lighting rig and the help of four large screens above the stage, two on either side and one at the back, which intermittently broadcast black-and- white closeups of lead singer Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.

The two-hour set, which began with Elevation from their latest album All That You Can't Leave Behind, started as low-key as you could possibly imagine for a U2 concert. The four members casually walked onto the stage with the house lights up and kept them on for the entire duration of that first exhilarating song.

They kept that energy up over the course of the next three numbers, the triple-Grammy-winner Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, and NewYear's Day -- the latter featuring The Edge on piano.

Unfortunately, the show began to lag in the middle with one-too-many slow-tempoed numbers, like the new songs, Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of and In A Little While along with Sweetest Thing -- which had never been played live before and should never be again -- The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Gone.

Surprisingly tepid too were Discotheque and I Will Follow -- songs that should have been concert standouts.

Two notable exceptions to the ho-humness of it all were the new song, New York, which prompted six transparent panels to drop down as screened backdrops, and the anthemic Sunday Bloody Sunday, which produced the first big singalong of the night and even saw Bono waving a tri-coloured Irish flag that had been handed to him by an audience member.

The show finally began to rebound towards the end, particularly with the heartfelt Bad, With Or Without You and One, the soaring Where The Streets Have No Name, Bullet The Blue Sky and the funky Mysterious Ways.

Bono, in particular, took to the catwalk like a regular supermodel, posing, preening and even running laps at times when he wasn't reaching out towards the audience members or just outright falling right into the crowd and making a run for it -- like he did right before the encore.

Occasionally, The Edge, dressed in a Miami Dolphins T-shirt and his trademark toque, would venture out too and the guitarist and singer played nicely off each other.

But it took formal introductions by Bono for Mullen -- "He hasn't changed in 20 years!" -- and Clayton -- "The man who has the biggest instruments in the band!" to walk the plank.

All in all, Elevation is a much more tasteful affair than 1997's colorful extravaganza known as PopMart, although there were some leftovers like the dancing female silhouette who appeared during Mysterious Ways.

I would have liked to have seen some of the playfulness from that last tour continue on this one but I suspect that will come in time.

The group, playing arenas for the first time in almost a decade, will visit Toronto for two sold-out shows at the AirCanada Centre on May 24-25.

Set List

Elevation
Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year's Day
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
Gone
Discotheque/Staring At The Sun
New York
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sweetest Thing
In A Little While
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Bad
Where The Streets Have No Name
Mysterious Ways
The Fly

ENCORE:

Bullet The Blue Sky
With Or Without You
One
Walk On

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