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[M]usic is worship. [W]hether it comes from that ancient place we call soul or simply the spinal cortex. . . . The smoke goes upwards, to God or something you replace God with -- usually yourself. -- Bono

by Christian

My second Vertigo show (and 6th overall) after Boston on May 24th. Some great variations in the setlist – literally half the show (10 of 22 songs) was different from what I saw them play in Boston. Some notes & highlights:

- “City of Blinding Lights”: still one of the best songs in the set, and that’s quite an achievement for an opener. In fact, I think this is the best opening number I’ve ever seen them use in a tour. A lot of that has to do with the lightshow as well - even though I had seen it before, the visuals of the light curtains coming down and sparkling all over the place completely took my breath away, again. It simply looks magical, there’s no other way to describe it
- “Elevation”: this song has turned into an amazing performance piece – as limited as it is musically, they’ve done something special with it on this tour
- “Original of the Species”: I was hoping they’d play this, and they actually did a full-band version with two guitars and an additional musician on piano
- “Love and Peace or Else”: another highlight of the show; I’ve always liked it on the album as well, but felt there was something missing there, it just didn’t seem as intense as it should be, and Bono manages to take it to another level when he does it live, coaxing the kind of virtuosity out of his voice that the song needs
- “Miss Sarajevo”: memorable not as much for the musical performance (I have to say I prefer the guitar arrangement on the original recording to the piano they used here), but for the sheer guts of taking on Pavarotti’s vocal part – of course it sounded nothing like Pavarotti, it sounded like Bono trying to be Pavarotti, but I found there was something very touching about that, especially following the tribute to his father and his illusions of operatic grandeur…
- “Until the End of the World”: still one of my all-time favorites, a nice surprise to see it back in the set - plus, I've always thought they used it too early on in the set on earlier tours, great change
- “Mysterious Ways”: in another Georgia tribute (there were various references throughout the show), Bono did this with a lot of James Brown swagger, punctuating it with several “Sex Machine” grunts. Hilarious.
- “With or Without You”: I had sort of grown tired of that one for awhile, to be honest, and they wisely chose to leave it out of the set during the first leg of the tour; now it was back in what seemed like a fresher version than I’ve seen them do in years – very restrained, deliberately slow, and with an interesting variation on the ending
- “First Time” and “Stuck in a Moment”: great acoustic versions
- “Bad” was the final encore, and ended in a rousing Patti Smith tribute (“People Have the Power”)

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