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I'm not afraid to be ugly or to be myself. -- Bono, 1981


by kevin

I have read all the reviews on this site, and it seems like 95% make every show sound like that night was the best concert ever. U2 has had no problem being critical of itself throughout its career, so I don't see any harm in offering a little criticism or saying the show was something less than the greatest concert ever. Hopefully I will not be hated if I say 4/5 was pretty good, but not GREAT!!

I agree with Mario who reviewed Staples 4/6. The Staples shows were a U2 that is still working on a show at the start of a long, long tour that is very much in progress. The fact that in a week they have changed the opening and closing of its show and the song order tells me they have not yet decided what works best yet, and from my seat on 4/5, I thought most things worked pretty good, while other things could have been better.

First, there is no getting around that Staples Center is a huge, corporate aircraft hanger that can not fester any energy or intensity. The place is too big, the crowds in certain areas sit on their hands in their chairs, it's a tough place to fill with good sound top to bottom - just not the best venue for a rock concert. The floor is about the only place where you are going to really have a good time beginning to end. From most other vantage points the action seems far, far away. Still, U2 is a great, great band, and an OK show by them is better than almost any other band's best night. Still...

I did not care for the opening or closing of the show, and thought the song order was fair. For a band this creative and visionary, I am missing it as to why they would need to go back 20-some years to do the "40" ending, it's been done. If the theme of the show was "One" and "Everyone!" (as the voices shout out at the start of the show), why not close the show with "One," a beatiful song with a fantastic, powerful finish? Why not play Bob Marley's "One Love" on the loud speakers before the house lights go down then after the "Everyone!" chants you hear Bono's voice in the dark saying "one, one, one, one, uno, uno, uno, dos, tres..." then open with Vertigo, that would be a great opening then close up with "One." To me the pairing of Love and Peace with Vertogo did not click, and the show had uneven pacing for awhile after that, great moments followed by flat moments.

I liked Electric Co but tired of the old, old songs, and in my section the crowd did not stand up and start cheering until New Years Day and when I checked my watch that was an hour into the show, and 20 minutes later they finished the set. Many thought that was it and headed for the aisles. After the Pride. Streets, One encore, the crowd really started pouring out, not knowing three more songs were coming. L.A. crowds, awful.

The political theme was definitely there and I thought they did a good job with that without going overboard, but they came pretty darn close. I've heard from some who are a bit cynical about this same crowd with all the cell phones, drinking $11 Bud Lights and racing to pee every 15 minutes being all that invested in changing the world, but hey, Bono does what he can with his 120 minutes, you can't fault him for the effort.

I thought the reviews of Bono were off as well. I did not see this as his best performance or his greatest vocal showing, at times his voice seemed absent, though he appeared to be singing in the mic. He was also pretty reluctant to use the circle, and at a time I wondered why have it if you are not going to make use of it? Again, in time I think they'll venture out more and do more with the space.

Would have loved to have heard End of the World, more All You Can't Leave Behind songs and full lights at the start of Streets, but I understand they do not want this to be Elevation Tour, Part II. Still, the mood and lighting seemed almost too dark, too reserved at times. Zoo Station/Fly also did not have the punch they used to have, the band semed intent on holding things back a notch intensity-wise from the way they played on the last tour.

As for the band, you have to hand it to them, they challenge themselves, they challenge their audiences, they play great, and try their best each time out. History has shown that they don't always get off to blazing starts on their tours, and while these shows have been very, very good, I can't go as far as saying they were the best U2 shows I've ever seen, or even among the best concerts I've ever seen. I'll have another crack at it in November and expect to see new things, and will try to go somewhere other than Staples Center. Viva Las Vegas!

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