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


by R. Jensen

A U2 concert is so many different things to so many different people on so many different levels. To the casual fan of music this band represents the one of the best live performances around. On the other end of the spectrum is the true blue fan. To this group, and it is a huge group, a U2 show is a spiritual mecca that can only be experienced when you've reached out and touched Bono's hand in person. I started out as the latter and as I've aged my devotion to the band has diminished somewhat. But that still does not mean that I am no longer moved by them.

My enthusiasm for the concert was tempered somewhat. The new album, "No Line On the Horizon" just hasn't had the staying power that past works have had. And since I've already heard all of the classics several times through past tours (Zoo TV, Elevation, Vertigo) I wasn't particularly keen on having to put up with the new stuff. But that changed when I convinced my brother and his son to come down. This was to be their first show and so my missionary zeal came back. I always love sharing this band with over people.

After a splendid day with the family we made our way over to University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale. The stadium itself is great but it has quickly picked up a reputation as a below average place to hear a concert. That was my primary gripe. The sound seemed a little muffled at time. My big consolation was that in talking to people who attended the Rolling Stones concert last year this sound seemed like listening through some Bose earphones in comparison. The other gripe was with the crowd. My section did its part but the intensity of the overall stadium was pretty weak in comparison to my past U2 experiences. I've seen the boys in several different cities and Phoenix has always come in short. You would think that with their long history with the band that the crowd would be more involved. Anyways...

#1 Highlight- One followed by Amazing Grace followed by Streets. No better 10 minutes in all of Rock and Roll.
#2 Highlight- The remix version of "Crazy" that mixed some of the Pop dance club fusion with the sense of optimism of the song. I loved watching an intense Larry Mullen Jr. march around the stage with his bongos. I always love the chance to hear a song reinvented.
#1 Lowlight- "No Line on the Horizon". I think that the song is pretty good but when played after an incredible acoustic version of "Stuck in a Moment" it just killed some great momentum. They had just reeled off three classics and then they moved into this. You crowd went from ecstatic to bored in an instant.

Bono is the consummate showman. He could charm a dead snake. These guys have conquered the rock and roll world but their effort never wanes. The crowd wasn't all there tonight but that didn't affect their performance. U2 doesn't do halfhearted.

Of the six U2 shows I've been to I would probably rank this #5. The setting, sound, and new material brought it down a bit. But that ranking doesn't look so bad when you consider that of the 50 or show concerts/music festivals I've attended each of those U2 concerts is in my top 10. On a bad night U2 is still better than 95% of everything else.

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