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[T]he hardest place in the world for what we try and pull off as U2 . . . is the U.K., where the arts and politics are very separate. -- Bono



by John F.

This was my eighth U2 show, going back to the indoor Zoo TV leg. That tour remains my favorite, so it's no surprise that the highlight for me was the first part of the encore. Hearing Zoo Station for the first time in 13 years was mind-blowing, as was the new rendition of the Fly. Laura's request for Party Girl was perfect--I had never gotten to see that song performed before. Even if her performance was shaky, it was great to hear the crowd sing along with every line. Electric Co. was fantastic, too--probably the most powerful performance I've ever seen Edge deliver. Why that song was absent for so long, I'll never know.

As for the new material, it was done well, even if it lacked some of the more spontaneous touches that show in their older work. I was surprised at the strength of All Because of You--a song I don't care as much for on the album. COBL and Vertigo were well-done, too.

My only problem is that, with much of the material, I feel like I've sort of "seen it all before". I know this argument is moot when concert-goers want to hear the hits, but at this point some of these songs are starting to get locked into a certain context....Streets and Pride always the "redemption" after the "troubled" middle songs, which probably include SBS and NYD. I'm also not sure of the politicizing of Streets (not to mention the rest of the show)--making it about Africa seems far to specific for a song that is intentionally ambiguous and open to each listener's interpretation. And while I do enjoy the new album, I'm not sure the songs are strong enough to support a show the way Achtung Baby's songs supported Zoo TV. And Bono in do-rag and shades beating the drum just seemed, well, silly.

I'm still a fan, and I look forward to my next show in September--but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be standing in the nosebleeds cheering my lungs out. I think I might somehow miss the "theater" that was so integral to Zoo TV.

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