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"It's lucky I'm in a band. I'd be obnoxious as a solo artist." — Bono




38,000 Find What They''re Looking for: U2 in Utah

- May 04, 1997

by Lori Buttars

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Irish rock band U2 landed its PopMart '97 tour in Utah on Saturday, dazzling some 38,000 fans who packed the University of Utah's Rice Stadium to see the world's largest touring discotheque.

Shortly before 9 p.m., bass player Adam Clayton, drummer Larry Mullen Jr., guitarist The Edge and lead singer Bono took the stage, trooping through a phalanx of security guards standing with arms linked.

Onstage, the band was dwarfed by a monolithic TV screen and a 100-foot golden arch, topped by 149 high-tech speakers blasting out the '70s tune "Popmuzik."

Bono shed a flowing white-hooded boxing jacket, then bobbed and weaved as he sang "Mofo," a bleating tune that introduced U2's new industrialized sound.

Fan reaction to the song seemed muted compared with the frenzy that greeted "I Will Follow" with its familiar ringing guitar.

Bono thanked the crowd for its patience over what appeared to be a false start to the concert and mentioned the "2" that had been added to the giant "U" in the foothills above the university.

"It's a good thing that we're not the Red Hot Chili Peppers or something," Bono quipped.

The band then launched into "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Do You Feel Loved?" before inviting the crowd to sing along on "Pride (In the Name of Love)".

"You know what? You sing better than me," Bono said midway through the song. He invited more singing for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

Curiosity brought many fans to the sold-out show, which was opened by the heavy metal rock/rap group Rage Against the Machine. U2 has not played in Utah since 1983.

Since then, the band has become one of rock 'n' roll's prominent voices. Its borderline-preachy, political anthems have touched generations: Some fans at Saturday's concert were not even born when U2 was last here.

As the name PopMart suggests, the band has shed its political baggage for this tour. At one point in the concert, The Edge led a sing-along rendition of "Daydream Believer," a Monkees hit from the 1960s.

While the band has included old favorites in the PopMart tour, the emphasis seems to be on glitz.

In one spectacular display, 13 laser-white spotlights merged in the sky to form a beam large enough to make extraterrestrial contact. Near the end of the concert, the stage went dark. Smoke billowed from under a 40-foot lemon covered with glittering mirrors. The lemon opened and band members reappeared, walking down a ramp onto a second stage, where they played "Discotheque," a song from the new CD, "Pop".

Although pre-concert parking-lot parties were banned, fan spirits were not dampened. Some performed stunts for a contest sponsored by a Salt Lake City radio station. The prize: a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Doug Guibord, Ogden, won with this routine: He was covered with duct tape, which was ripped off his skin. He then shaved his head, poured cologne over his raw skin and rolled around in a small swimming pool of manure.


© 1997. Salt Lake Tribune.

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