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"We were a pretty crap wedding band actually." — Bono



by Emily

It's been fairly well documented by now that there are plenty of things to criticize about this tour, if that's what you're into. I feel that by virtue of my long "relationship" with the band (20 years), that I have earned the right to call them on certain things. But the thing of it is, when the lights go down and the show starts, that intagible magic takes over, and all of the critical faculties get tossed out the window.

That said, I'll try to be brief. (But that probably won't happen). Main impression: the new material is HOT, and sounds great live, and they should be playing more of the Bomb, no question.

The Miracle Drug/Sometimes You Can't Make It one-two punch is a killer. One of the evening's higlights definitely came on the latter song, when Bono - God bless him - completely NAILED the high note on, 'Can you hear me when I siiiiiiiiiiiiiiing...' IT WAS SOUL STIRRING, PEOPLE. I wanted to hug him just for hitting that note. I felt like he was doing it just for me. (Delusional, I know. But we are all a bit delusional about the boys, aren't we?)

Love and Peace or Else was an ecstatic, filthy trip - filthy as in skanky, stinky, down-right NASTY. I knew that tune would be great live. Bono did a lot of frog-like lunging on the ellipse during this number, and you just don't see anything more charming at a U2 show than Bono and Larry sharing a mic. Thank God they brought that man out from behind his kit.

City of Blinding Lights was a lush and lovely opener. I know it's hokey to start the night with Bono telling us how beautiful we look, but don't we all come to these shows for that kind of affirmation?? Don't we want him to tell us that we're all OK??

Vertigo, for me, had wiskers within a few weeks of the record coming out, if only for the damned i-Pod. I skip it every time I listen to the album. But that's a shame, because you know what? It's a great song, and it rocks very hard live, and the crowd was totally into it, which was great fun.

All Because of You was misplaced in the encore, I thought, but it was a tight, terse little jam.

I AM BEGGING THEM TO BRING OUT CRUMBS FOR THE FALL. I don't even have tickets for October, and quite honestly, if they stick with this setlist formula, I feel like I saw a fantastic show and will probably pass. But if they shake this show up in just a few places, I think it will go from being fabulous to being EXTRAORDINARY. So hopefully they are reading our reviews. :)

I continue to feel that Pride is flat and pretty lifeless now, and should be retired. However, I thought Love and Peace into Sunday Bloody Sunday worked well, and gave that moldy oldy some much needed new life.

As for the serious archive material - Electric Co. and An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart - I thought the former was seriously rocking, while the latter kind of sucked the life out of the room for a minute. It may have been worth it though, for the moment when Bono brought the two young girls onto the stage (I know he does this trick every night, but it's awfully sweet), asked them their names, and then said, "My name is Paul, but I call myself Bono." Can't beat that for the world.

I realize I am now in serious danger of going on for days. There is a lot more I want to say. As my husband noted, the spirit of Popmart was very much alive during this show, which made us both very happy. And the homage to ZOO TV was quite seamless. I thought Zoo Station sounded amazing, though it certainly isn't a song I would choose to start an encore (but it was NICE seeing Mr. The Edge work the crowd all by himself at the beginning.) And Mysterious Ways - another song that has never done much for me - turned into a nice show-piece for "sexy Adam Clayton," as he did a sauntering lap around the ellipse.

Special props to the Philly crowd. It's my hometown, I'm totally biased, and I've seen virtually all of my U2 shows here over the years, but damn it if we don't know how to dish out the love. I really got the impression that the boys really felt it, and were giving it right back to us, in high style.

Our boys have become critical sitting ducks in recent years, just by virtue of their insane, perhaps inexplicable and seemingly never-ending mass appeal. A lot of people want to say that they are washed up, phoning it in, and drained of all passion at this point in their long career. I may have blinders on, and I may be in denial about the fact that this magical ride is going to have to end one day, but what I saw last night certainly proved all of those critics wrong. This show was equally, if not more, fiery than the 3 shows I saw in '01, and I really think that we are quite a distance from the final chapter of the remarkable saga that is this band.

So drink it up.

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