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[Y]ou can't dial up the way Larry and Adam play together. You can't dial up a lyric that's about real life. -- Bono


U2 in Dallas is the sweetest thing

- April 04, 2001

by Dave Ferman

DALLAS -- The sign held up by a fan near the stage said simply, "You're hired."

The job, of course, is "best rock 'n' roll band in the world," a position that members of U2 said many times in the past few months that they wanted back.

Consider it theirs.

Last night's show before a sold-out crowd at Reunion Arena was one of the very best concerts I have ever seen in an arena. It was fun and passionate and blazing with muscular confidence.

The difference between this two-hour show and the band's past few stadium tours was evident from the beginning, when U2 walked onstage with the house lights still up at 8:45 p.m. and began playing `Elevation,' one of the highlights from its latest CD, `All That You Can't Leave Behind.'

Dressed in black, Bono jumped up and down as the crowd surged toward him. The house lights didn't go off until near the end of the song, which was followed by `Beautiful Day.' Such moments -- Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. playing full throttle to a ravenous crowd -- is how U2 became as enormously popular as it is.

U2's stage setup is in the round -- sort of. The stage was at one end of the floor, but a heart-shaped catwalk went out deep into the seats, which meant that a few hundred lucky fans were inside the heart.

Bono, and often The Edge, spent much of the night on the catwalk; Bono was often nearly pulled into the crowd.

The evening's one low point came on the third song, `New Year's Day.' Bono's voice was noticeably weak, and he sang as though it were an obligation.

But that was merely an early glitch. The band alternated new songs, such as `In a Little While,' with older favorites, such as `I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday,' and never again lost momentum. On `Sunday,' Bono threw an Irish flag over one shoulder; he also threw in a bit of Bob Marley's `Get Up, Stand Up.' He followed this bit of rabble-rousing with perhaps the evening's loveliest moment, a rendition of `The Sweetest Thing.'

From there, the band rolled out the really heavy artillery -- a solid version of `Bad,' a fantastically anthemic `Where The Streets Have No Name' and several more, concluding with `Walk On,' a recent song that summed everything up: Keep going, do your best and good things will come.

That is certainly true for these four Irishmen.

U2's shift back into arenas was little short of a masterstroke. To see Bono at the bottom of the heart, surrounded by fans, is to see him where he always should have been -- amid the people who love him instead of high on a giant stage flanked by giant props.

After more than 20 years, U2 still reaches its fans, engages them and makes an evening a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The concert opened with an impressive 45-minute set by P.J. Harvey that featured new and old material in just about equal measure. Wearing a spangly knee-length dress and carrying an electric guitar, she began her set alone on stage with a version of `This Mess We're In' ; her band joined her on the second song.

Facing a largely indifferent audience, Harvey was often riveting, but it took a version of `Rid of Me' halfway through the set to get the crowd solidly on her side. She finished with `Horses in My Dreams' from her latest CD, `Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.'

Given the strength of that set, it sure would be nice if Harvey would come back and play a smaller venu

1D

© Star-Telegram, 2001.

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