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One part of his brain is a genius, but he can only focus on one thing. He wasn't able to negotiate his way through school, but he can sit and read seven books in a day. -- Ali, on Bono

by Neil

I went into the Milwaukee show pretty much unaware of the set, choosing to have ignored the temptation to read reviews of all shows bar the opening night. A pretty hard thing for a fan of nearly 20 years! I wanted to feel the excitement and surprise you get when you hear the opening note to a song (hearing The Fly, I nearly shit myself in Milwaukee!). On previous tours, when Id seen multiple nights I realized there was something missing since there tends to be little variation, bar the odd song from night to night. And boy am I glad I was so green. Ive seen nearly 20 shows in 4 countries over the years and this ranks among the best.

The set is a little greatest hits these days, but not through any fault of the band. Hearing 2 hours of music by the band that has had such a profound impact on my life for so long is always going to feel like that. That U2 can include in their repertoire such massive songs as Bad, Pride, Mysterious Ways, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet, Desire, One, Streets, I Will Follow, The Fly, let alone Stay, Until The End of the World et al., is testament to their contribution to music. And who wouldnt want to hear the best songs from the best band of the last 20 years??!! But the addition of Wake Up Dead Man in Chicago, was a welcome change and a surprise move. And not only did they include nearly the entire latest album, but it slips into the set seamlessly, with the intensity never missing a beat.

The most important element of a U2 show for me has always been, not their fantastic interpretation of their songs, but the passion with which they are performed. Any the Elevation Tour comes with a truck-load of passion. The band has spoken of wanting to claim back the title of worlds greatest band, and with every chord, note and word, you feel they are giving their all to succeed in that challenge. Bono has always been extremely charismatic, but the intensity level of the current shows is amazing. He charges around the stage, like a bull on steroids seeing red, in what feels like an attempt to knockout every single member of the arena. During Sunday Bloody Sunday, he motions to each and every section to sing no more and in less than 5 seconds he has the entire crowd punching the crowd in time with him. Moments before singing I want to run.. in the opening lines of Streets he runs an entire lap of the stage (no mean feat given the large heart-shaped set). And I Will Follow was performed with a blistering tempo more reminiscent of 1983!

While the wordplay between songs changes little from night to night, I dont think that detracts from the sincerity of Bonos words. His contribution to the efforts of Jubilee 2000 is reinforced by his request for fans to contact their Congressman and Senators in order to end Third World Debt. Just imagine if 100,000 calls were made in the next week with people saying Bono told me to call. You cant help but get caught up in the causes supported by the band. Their music has been made better by their activism, and our lives have been improved by their music I feel an obligation to learn more about the issues, and Bono is spot-on on the issue of debt relief. Make that call now!! He even thanked us all for paying so much of our hard earned on tickets and providing them with such a wonderful life. A simple but much appreciated gesture.

As a band they appear to be extremely happy playing live, and unlike previous tours, they spend much of the time playing within a small area only a few feet apart. While I was a huge fan of previous sets, much was said in opposition to them, mainly that they detracted from the music and obscured the band, but there can be little to be said against the present staging. Shockingly simple, yet still innovative, it provides a fantastic view from every area of the arena, even behind the stage. Whoever decided on the band walking on lights up and blasting into Elevation is a genius I thought they were playing for just me, and hardly noticed the 20,000 others! As for the heart-shaped runway, the idea is shockingly simple and works to great effect, allowing Bono to involve himself actually in the audience. Being the showman he is, he spends much of the time shaking hands, laying on the hands of supporting crowd members, posing and even in Chicago dragging an audience member up to play piano during Stay (good luck to the guy, he was waving a sign asking to do it during the show in Milwaukee!), and recognizing the crowd pleasing impact of granting the wishes of one girl who held a sign requesting to belly dance during Mysterious Ways in Chicago. Note to other aspiring fans, she REALLY could dance and was decked out in full gear! Bono chased her around the entire set, before she ran off at the end of the song, leaving The Edge calling out his thanks to her.

All in all, 2 amazing shows, alive with not just powerful music but a
ferocious raw energy.

Beg, steal or borrow to see this show!

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