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Donovan's U2 Concert Review

Submitted by ryandonovan at 2001-06-20 19:05:31 EDT
Rating: -0.5 on 26 ratings (26 reviews) (Review this item) (V)


Location: United Center, Chicago
Dates: Saturday May 12, 2001 & Sunday May 13, 2001

I realize that I’m not special. There’s nothing particular about me that sets me apart from the rest. As much as I’d like to believe that I stand out from the crowd, I don’t. I’m simply one of the millions worldwide that considers U2 their favorite band. I can’t say that I’ve seen more concerts, downloaded more MP3s, followed the band longer, or sacrificed more lambs in their honor. All I can say is that I’m a huge fan, and that I’ve held them in the highest regard for over a dozen years.

In fact, I think it’s completely fair to say that Bono has been my surrogate mother. Especially during the teenage years, I can fully credit Bono for raising and nurturing me. When I felt angry or sad or alone or excited, U2 was the right thing to listen to. There was a theme song for every one of my moods, and Bono was unwavering in his dependability. He always knew what to say. And Uncle Adam, Aunt Edge, and Cousin Larry were always close behind to complete the support group. Like any good alcoholic Irish family, U2 always had a way to deflect my feelings and fears, so I didn’t have to deal with them in a healthy manner. I would come home and say to my stereo, “Mama Bono, the beautiful girl at school lanced my heart today.” And Bono would say, “Hush, little one. Let me play ‘So Cruel’ for you.” Or I would say, “Mama Bono, I want to celebrate, and the kid that normally deals me LSD is fresh out.” And Bono would say, “You deserve happiness. Listen to ‘Rejoice’.” Or I would say, “Mama Bono, I’m embarrassed because I got lost while driving my car.” And Bono would say, “I think I know that place, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’.” Now, I don’t mean to disrespect my biological mother. But she could never quite hit all the notes on ‘Pride’.

The song that could always match any sentiment was ‘Bad’. Not only is it my favorite U2 song, it is my favorite song, period (Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ is a close second). No matter what my mood, ‘Bad’ could amplify or modify my feelings, depending on what I needed most. The song’s range of pace could even elicit several emotions at one time. I could imagine my feelings as part of the song lyrics, when Bono launched into his Jesse-Jackson-like rhyming toward the end: “Isolation, desolation, temptation, aggravation, elation…” (okay, so I used to ad-lib a few lyrics). Just when I thought I had my feelings sorted out, Bono would sing, “Now fade away!” and the song would do anything but. It gassed up, and the roller coaster tossed me every which way. As the song mellowed at the end, it would drop me like an infant falling from the arms of a crack-head mother, and leave me on the floor, drained.

I know, listening to U2 music sounds like an unconventional way to deal with adolescence, but it was cheaper than therapy and easier to turn off than parents.

I was kidding about Rick Astley, by the way.

Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating the sold-out Elevation Tour shows at the United Center in Chicago. I had seen U2 three times before – twice on the lawn at the World Music Theater during Zoo TV (Bono was shitfaced and hoarse one of the nights) and once on the PopMart Tour in the upper-back corner of Soldier Field (which was only slightly closer to the stage than Gary, Indiana). My first Elevation show was Saturday night, the first Chicago date. My friends and I had planned on avoiding the opening act, PJ Harvey, because my buddy “didn’t want to get there an hour early to listen to that lame-ass black comedian” (I’m still not sure if he was thinking of the PJ’s or Steve Harvey). Still accustomed to the pomp and ego of PopMart, we assumed U2 would begin their set late… but they didn’t. So we arrived during the third song. The feeling of regret was a bit like missing your child’s first steps. But as soon as I stepped on the floor, shoving my way past an elderly couple and the handicapped section, the performance hit me like the heat of a bonfire, and the regret was gone. I was in the show.

The performance was amazing. And it was performance, not a spectacle like the last two tours. This was U2, not the fabricated entity that had been playing off of glitz and glamour and media and technology. Not that I didn’t enjoy the other shows, but this show was about the music and about the fans. And it was about U2 enjoying themselves, in the moment. In fact, they had begun the show by simply walking onto the stage with the house lights on – completely opposite of the pretentious Vegas entrances of the previous shows.

Seriously, I was kidding about Rick Astley.

Both shows that I attended began with the song ‘Elevation’, but from there the shows diverged. The two shows were 50% disparate, incorporating different songs, varied lighting and theatrics, faux-spontaneous crowd interaction, and even unique arrangements of repeated songs (most notably, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘New York’, ‘Mysterious Ways’, and ‘Walk On’ were changed from one night to the next). Without recounting every song, some of my highlights over the two nights included:

‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ – U2 is finally back to playing this song the way the gods intended, with Bono on LV. No more of this Edge-singing-lead-vocals horseshit. No offense Edge, but there’s a reason that you’re the quiet guitarist. Your voice makes us feel numb. When this song began at the second show, I got into the revolutionary spirit and punched a guy and made him bleed, just because it was Sunday.

‘With Or Without You’ – Sadly, Bono’s sandpaper vocals can’t quite do this song justice anymore. It was one of the few lackluster songs of the set, despite being the most radio-venerable. Statistically speaking, 43% percent of all American couples between the ages of 25 and 45 claim it as “their song”. On an interesting side note, Bono once confided on the Charlie Rose Show that this song was written about the intimate relationship between a man and his horse. I apologize for bursting any bubbles.

‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ – I’ve heard this song performed a hundred different ways, but this was the closest I’ve ever heard it sound to the album version, which was refreshing. To quote a David Spade routine, they played it “like it is on the radio – no tricks”. An added feature was a video vignette, essentially a big middle finger to Charlton Heston and the NRA. While it was nice to hear choice cuts like this from the Bible Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (The Joshua Tree), it was a shame that they didn’t play anything from the New Testament (Side Two).

‘Mysterious Ways’ – This is the sexiest live song that U2 performs. The Edge’s guitar moaned and writhed while Bono oozed lyrics that were both praising and erotic (“If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel… On your knees boy!” – Are you kidding me?). They brought a belly-dancer up on stage, but for four minutes, every female in the audience was the band’s belly-dancer. Not to mention the swampy greaseball guy in front of me, who had no concept of “acceptable social proximity rules”.

‘Bad / “40” / Where The Streets Have No Name’ – This uninterrupted piece of music was the closest I’ve been to serenity in my lifetime. They played ‘Bad’ (no need to reiterate its significance to me), segued into a short clip of “40”, then coasted into ‘Streets’. While they no longer use it to open the encore, the beginning of ‘Streets’, with the chilling organ and fiery red backdrop, remains as one the truly great live rock signatures.

Aside from being more into the music, U2 seemed to be more into the crowd, as well. They seemed to be genuinely thankful to the fans they’ve made over the years. Bono went so far as to crowd-surf, which he never would have done before now. He spent much of the time on the tip of the heart-shaped catwalk that projected out from the main stage, leaning into the audience as he sang. He got as close to the fans as possible, licking the face of one girl, and getting an outside-the-pants hand job from another.

Of course, there were the usual fans, trying to stand out from the crowd. On the floor, there were the typical hoss-dog fat chicks perched on their boyfriends’ shoulders, dressed to a T like whores because they were pretty sure Bono was going to see them from the stage. Then there were the girls in the back with lighted signs, a ‘U’ and a ‘2’. But they held them up backwards, so they were unwittingly cheering for 2U (much to the delight of the dyslexics in the arena). And then there was the guy in the front row with the sign that read ‘Let me play piano!’ In what had to be a set-up, Bono told him that he could play piano on ‘Stay’ if he could name the chord Edge strummed. The guy got it right, so they pulled him onstage and let him play. But Bono warned, “Remember, this is a U2 show – no flowery shit.” Since it couldn’t have been spontaneous, I expected the band to do the same thing the next night… but they didn’t. And after talking to some out-of-towners, they didn’t do it at previous shows either. Pretty cool.

I think the best part about the shows was the band itself. It was a band that had found the spirit of men twenty years younger, but the wisdom of men twenty years older. During ‘The Fly’, Bono sprinted laps around the stage while belting out lyrics, never sounding out of breath. The band chose some songs on the spur of the moment (or at least duped me into thinking that they did), like when Bono began to say, “This next song is off of Zooropa…”, then Edge whispered something, and Bono finished, “…but Edge wants to play ‘Desire’ instead.” As they played together, what shone through the most was the band’s camaraderie and mutual admiration (not to mention some not-so-subtle homoerotic overtones in the rapport between Bono and Edge). So youthful seemed the band that they even stooped to cheap crowd praise, like Edge’s sequined Chicago Bears jersey, and Bono’s story of how the Soldier Field stop marked the resurgence of the PopMart Tour.

Most endearing of all was how U2 seemed so… I don’t know… grateful. They were enthusiastic about playing the same old songs to the same old fans. They appeared happy to be there, and happy to be showing the crowd a good time. It was extremely refreshing to witness, considering everyone in the world, from the Pope to Bill Clinton, has been hanging from their nuts. Fitting then, was that the shows ended with ‘Walk On’, and Bono singing the words of celestial praise, “Hallelujah, hallelujah!” Amen to that. Hallelujah, U2.

Review This Item




Submitted by czwij at 2010-08-30 06:29:51 EDT (#)
Rating: -2

how could anyone like such pretentious fucktards like U2?

i'd rather listen to def leppard than this shite.
actually, that's a lie, i wouldn't
but still.
U2 is the most popular utter shite band i have ever seen.
fucking U2. an enigma.

Submitted by d_prime at 2006-07-02 21:48:10 EDT (#)
Rating: 0

Is this satirical?

Submitted by Random Joe at 2004-09-23 10:04:23 EDT (#)
Rating: 1

This article brought a tear to my eye, and I'm a lukewarm U2 fan at best.

Submitted by ishouldbeworkingwhilstatwork at 2004-06-08 12:05:12 EDT (#)
Rating: 0

Ziccs, Hmm very good point, nice to see you vocabulary extends to the size of your penis. Not far.

Submitted by Zeccs at 2003-11-30 23:15:05 EST (#)
Rating: -2

U2 is the worst, most shitfilled cock-stankin' band ive ever heard. I can always tell a U2 song when it comes on the radio because i puke in my mouth.

Submitted by laff at 2003-11-23 17:30:09 EST (#)
Rating: 2

Awesome article. I went to the Elevation concert in Vancouver and it was awesome. Way better than Popmart. I'd give you a +2,000,000 if I could.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-11-02 21:08:11 EST (#)
Rating: 2

yeah U2s reall damn good. Not my favorite band, but still.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-10-22 17:39:45 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

Thank you for writing such a kick ass article on U2, for as long as I can remember
they have been my favorite band of all time. I remember going to the Elevation concert in Austin
and touching Bono's hand, I almost fainted. Their music is so full of emotion, and they do so many good things for so many worthwhile causes and charities. Anyone who doesn't like their music can fuck off because they obviously have bad taste in music, and don't appreciate music that can stand the test of time. U2 will always ROCK!!!

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-08-16 20:35:28 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

Ohhhhh, fuckyes. U2... U2 is good. Is close to godhood. I am extremely envious that you got to go to a concert... *le sigh* But this was as close to being there as any article can get. Beautiful piece of writing for the Best Band Evar. Rock on, man.

Submitted by Tenebrion at 2003-07-12 21:14:12 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

I'd just like to say that U2 kicks ass , and is more than just a pop band , contrary to popular belief . (Take note that this is coming from a 6 ft tall tattooed body builder who listens primarily to bands like Testament , Iron Maiden , Ministry , Rammstein , System of a Down , Tool , Vader , the Berzerker , and other heavy metal bands of the sort ) . U2 is into their music , and it seems like every damn one of their songs is filled with so much emotion that it's hard NOT to feel 'em .

Submitted by Denis_Leary at 2003-07-10 12:53:21 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

As that I attended twice on this tour I agree with total um, agreeness. The Elevation tour was Kicker of all ass.

Submitted by hidden101 at 2003-06-16 14:46:25 EDT (#)
Rating: 2


too much to read.

i'll just give it a +2 because U2 kicks ass.

Submitted by Chad_Sexington at 2003-06-16 14:02:08 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

Absolute genius... U2 kicks ass...

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-03-12 05:09:15 EST (#)
Rating: 2

Great review. Was going to knock it down for some inaccuracies, but you noticed the homoeroticism in Bono and Edge's relationship, and that just kicks all kinds of ass.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-02-22 11:01:35 EST (#)
Rating: 2

GREAT review! I've never been to a U2 concert, cuz when they came to Chile I was just a kid, but you definetely make me feel like I was there too. You rock!!

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-02-20 07:25:43 EST (#)
Rating: 2

This is the best Elevtion article ever, hands down!

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-02-20 07:24:58 EST (#)
Rating: 0

Submitted by Random Joe at 2003-01-26 01:02:55 EST (#)
Rating: -2

-2 and fuck you. U2= bad pop.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2002-11-04 16:58:57 EST (#)
Rating: 2

This was the best article I have ever read. Fuck everyone that disagrees. You obviously have no appreciation for music that will stand the test of time.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2002-10-18 22:56:30 EDT (#)
Rating: 2

I've never been to a U2 concert before, but I've always wanted to go. Unfortunately, I've lived far from where they've ever toured to.

Thanks for describing this for me. I am grateful. I am truly grateful.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2002-02-24 13:10:36 EST (#)
Rating: 2

I have never heard from anyone who could better explain the way I feel about U2. The part in the beginning was exactly how I felt.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-11-26 18:31:02 EST (#)
Rating: 0

So the guy likes U2... cut him some slack, ya bastards!

Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-11-18 14:18:17 EST (#)
Rating: -1

Just mentioning Rick Astley makes you a fag. FAG.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-08-24 11:20:35 EDT (#)
Rating: 0

soft wanker.

Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-08-24 11:16:08 EDT (#)
Rating: -2

when you oneday reteat from U2's proverbial you'll realise that Bad's not a bad tune and that life has a lot more to offer than spending time 'virtually' sucking bono's knob...talking of w.....

Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-06-29 16:15:12 EDT (#)
Rating: -1

Has Donovan gone soft on us. If I wanted to find someone to write a soft and cuddly piece about Bono, I'd throw a rock into the offices of Rolling Stone. C'mon Ryan - bring back the anger.

Oh my God, someone's trying to kill me! Oh wait, it's for Bart.

-- Homer Simpson
Cape Feare