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"Where rock ‘n’ roll becomes part of pop music I tend to lose interest." — Adam

U2 Hungry In Florida Tour Opener

- March 25, 2001

by Davis, England, and Simon

U2 kicked off its Elevation 2001 tour Saturday night (March 24) at the National Car Rental Center in Sunrise, Florida, to a capacity crowd of 18,800 fans. U2 put forth a stadium-quality show minus the spectacle of its last outing, 1997's PopMart tour. The group played like a young, hungry band, with frontman Bono asking the crowd at the end of the night, "Do we get the job?"

Bono recently said that U2 doesn't buy into rock 'n' roll complacency. "There's a certain contour that's expected of a band or an artist. You know, you do your best work very early on in your life, and then you kind of burn out. With our band, it doesn't feel like we're burning out. And if you were a photographer, or a screenwriter, or a poet, or a filmmaker, you know, in your 30s, you might just be, you know, gettin' the hang of it. But a lot of rock 'n' roll bands have burned out by our age. And I'm not buyin' into that."

The refocused U2 staged a show reminiscent of its early days, and a star-studded crowd including Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Rick James, supermodel Christy Turlington, members of Pearl Jam, producer Daniel Lanois, and world champion boxer Roy Jones Jr. was on hand to witness it.

U2 turned in a 21-song set that showcased the more rock side to the band, front-loading the evening with tunes like "Elevation," "Beautiful Day," "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of," and other tracks from its latest album, All That You Can't Leave Behind. The setlist for the night spanned almost every album, and was heavy on crowd pleasers like "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Where The Streets Have No Name," and "New Year's Day."

The quartet took the crowd by surprise as members ambled on stage while the venue's lights were still on, breaking into the opener, "Elevation." The lights went off midway through the song and the restrained but effective high-tech stage lights took over. Although the band didn't nearly have the production that it brought on PopMart or the Zoo TV road shows, it did place four black-and-white digital screens at the top of the stage, with one each dedicated to the band members. U2 also had rising video screens that came out from behind the stage halfway through the show, one of which displayed a silhouetted belly dancer as Bono laid on top of the ascending riser during "Mysterious Ways."

The frontman paid tribute to his wife with the song "In A Little While." "I wrote a song for my beautiful wife for not being there on her birthday," said Bono. "Her birthday is yesterday (March 23). She's here and I'm going to sing this for you."

The air-conditioned indoor arena allowed Bono to wear a leather jacket and rose-tinted shades, while guitarist the Edge wore a red Miami Dolphins shirt and his trademark black wool cap, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. wore a turquoise shirt, and bassist Adam Clayton was dressed in an olive shirt and Army fatigue pants. The band extended the evening's no-nonsense attitude to the crowd as well. At one point a fan threw beer on Bono, who in turn spit back at the offender.

The stage was augmented by an in-the-round walkway that was shaped like a red heart so the band could get close to the audience and meander through the first quarter of the floor seats. The first 300 or so fans were granted access into the heart at the front of the stage.

Bono song-checked several artists during the concert, including Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" during "Sunday Bloody Sunday"; Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" during "Bad"; and David Bowie's "Young Americans" during "Bullet The Blue Sky," before song-checking himself during the closer "Walk On" with the "How long?" chat of War's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "40."

The complete setlist for U2's Elevation tour opening night included "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," "The Sweetest Thing," "In A Little While," "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," "Bad," "Where The Streets Have No Name," "Mysterious Ways," and "The Fly," with the encore featuring "Bullet The Blue Sky," "With Or Without You," "One," and U2's latest single, "Walk On." Before the closing song, Bono acknowledged the band's fans, many of whom came from around the world for the night's event, "Thanks for following us over the years and giving us a great life. I hope we don't f--k up."

Launch, 2001.

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