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"People say I should get back in my box because I'm just a rock star ... But in every pub in this city at this moment, there is somebody shooting their mouth off on every subject under the sun. Why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't I?" — Bono

by Matt McGee

It's been a long time since I've seen a U2 tour opener -- 18 years to be exact. I was at the messy PopMart opener in Las Vegas, and this show was light years different from that one. U2 seemed a bit nervous, as you'd expect for an opening night, but they had their act together much more so than what I remember from the PopMart opener. They sounded great, though Bono was fighting sinusitis and had some moments where he struggled to hit the high notes. The new songs really sounded terrific, and the visuals on "Cedarwood Road" in particular were mind-blowing. The video screen was a total trip, and the way U2 used it during several songs was off the charts.

That said, the show was also challenging. There was a lot to digest and think about inside this concept of an "innocence" set and an "experience" set. There was the trip back in time through Bono's childhood and his mother's death and the three-song story arc surrounding the 1974 Dublin car bombings that are the subject of "Raised By Wolves." I don't think anyone was quite sure to make of the torn shards of classic literature that fell from the ceiling at the climax of "Until The End Of The World." I know I wasn't.

The intermission between sets was a six-minute video, sort of a mini-documentary about punk rock. It was interesting, but I don't think it was clear to the audience that they were in an intermission.

The second set was highlighted by a new version of "Bullet The Blue Sky" that was angry and intense and a welcome return to U2's live show. The encore was over the top with four huge U2 hits in succession. I liked the choice of "Still Haven't Found" as the show closer, but others weren't so sold on it.

Great show, but challenging. I walked out trying to figure out what I'd just seen. It was, actually, a lot like the first listen to Achtung Baby all those years ago -- I liked it, but I wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

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