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If you believe in what you've just written, you ought to be willing to take it door-to-door, if that's what it takes. -- Bono



U2 creates sparks with newer material

- April 21, 2005

by Ricardo Baca

As U2 approached the hour mark of its first Denver show in years Wednesday night, electricity sparked. Bono was talking during The Edge's inimitable guitar intro, as he tends to do, saying that Coloradans and our local radio stations have always been good to him and his band, and then he launched into "New Year's Day."

It wasn't the first electricity of the night, but it was no doubt the brightest instance thus far. And then the band smoothly segued into "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and that was huge - both the reaction and the sound. Then "Bullet the Blue Sky," and wow.

U2 is without question the best live band of its generation, and these are the bricks that helped them build that monument. The songs define the band, and when you see them live, it's so obviously not the other way around.

But the two songs before "New Year's Day" - "Miracle Drug" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," both off U2's most recent record, "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" - are not songs that reign or triumph or even rock. They exist and are familiar, but even 10 or 15 years down the line, they will not be the kind of tracks that send 18,000 fans into a speaking-in-tongues frenzy.

And since this tour, including tonight's sold-out date at the Pepsi Center, is supporting the most recent record, the set-list naturally leaned unfortunately heavy upon the newish record and its often-mediocre songs.

But to U2's credit, the band can make a lot out of very little. New tracks like "Love and Peace or Else" and "City of Blinding Lights" aren't epics of the "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or "Even Better Than the Real Thing" variety, but Bono would have you believe that they have the potential to be.

The "oh you look so beautiful tonight" refrain from "City of Blinding Lights" was so much more than just a mating call or even a platonic compliment. It was a grand assertion of beauty, and together with the lights, the on-point instrumentation and Bono's celebrated voice - sounding as bold as ever, though it was sometimes assisted via a recorded track - the message was heard well beyond the Pepsi Center walls.

While "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" followed late in the set with gigantic, goose- bumpy stature, U2 proved it can still rule over a crowd with material written in this decade.

Bono began "Beautiful Day" on his knees, catching his breath, wiping his brow and drinking from a bottle of water, but it wasn't long before he jump-started the song - and the arena - into a madhouse. The song, especially when coupled with "Elevation," is every bit as relevant as the rest of the U2 catalog.

Before the night was done, it was obvious Bono was heading to the late-'80s and early-'90s for the big ending that only U2 can pull off.

© Denver Post, 2005.

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