Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the moon came up, and not over one tree hill: “magical” u2 raleigh concert review

So here is an extended review that I submitted to Ticketmaster in regard to the U2 concert at Raleigh. Didn’t have much else to do on the 24 hour return flight!

The idea can only have come from outer space. Putting a short man (Bono) under a large stage, forlorn in a outdoor stadium. It demands a show as big, if not bigger, than the 164 foot high “Claw”. Which is certainly what U2 delivered at Raleigh on Saturday 3 October, 2009.

At 164 feet high, the “claw” towers, making us all feel small. Many times during the evening, the Claw threaten to steal the show, blowing smoke and making light beautiful. The design of lighting genius Willie Williams and architect of “simplexity,” Mark Fisher, the Claw allows a wrap around audience. Video screens project 360 degrees, while a circular ring and moving ramps enable Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam to circle the stadium, offering their unique sound to an adoring audience.

The show took it’s risk, best captured when Bono threw the microphone to the crowd in the middle of Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Unscripted, potentially show-stopping, it was a moment that captured all that is good about U2: old songs cleverly reworked to address contemporary concerns, offered by a band aware that a U2 show is never only about the music, but always about those who listen and the world in which they live.

The overall melody is that of joy. This is not a band dragging around America what is probably the most expensive stage in history. This is a band enjoying themselves and their music, finding grace inside their sound.

Bono the preacher is still at work. Yet this tour seems to have swapped the dark anger that bubbled through segments of the Vertigo tour. A more peaceful preacher is among us, inviting us to send our love to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, to consider human rights in Iran and to support the One campaign. All allow for audience participation, all reduce complex issues to simple samples of sound and vision.

The drum and bass ensure the show only rarely loses backbone. Bono’s voice continues to soar, while the Edge creates sonic sounds that suggest it is not only the Claw that has come from another place.

U2 come hawking their 9th album, No Line on the Horizon. This presents a tension. The band might claim a future look and a desire to connect with the kids of The Joshua Tree. Yet they can not afford to neglect the deepening worry lines of those who will ultimately will fund the fee the Claw demands.

U2 360 absorb both. The Redzone allows fans to pay to get close, an appropriate nod both to aging muscles and the One charity so close to Bono’s lips. The funked up and reworked I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight is a knockout, with Larry on congo drums circling the outer ring, turning the stadium into one giant party.

U2 is now 33 years old. While the Jesus they profess to follow was about to die, crucified by what at first glanced seemed an adoring crowd, 360 finds U2 ready to ascend to space.

Coming from New Zealand, home of One Tree Hill, it was a joy to see “the moon shine bright over” Raleigh stadium on October 5. Shining luminous bright, it made magical yet another U2 live show.

Posted by steve at 04:13 PM

1 Comment

  1. Sounds great, Steve. I’m sorry I missed it! It takes me back to when I saw them during the ‘Joshua Tree’ tour supported by B.B. King – 1990. Nothing flash, but simple atmospheric rock at a relatively small venue with a band that knew how to perform and include an audience.


    Comment by Chris McLeod — October 8, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

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