U23D

Before I forget: if you get the chance, see U23D. I don’t feel like giving a blow-for-blow account of it, so here’s what I liked best:

  • The crowd shots–in particular some of the small, seemingly inconsequential details which were nonetheless magical (the picture held aloft during “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” for instance, which I’m assuming was a picture of someone’s father, or the iconographic Rattle and Hum banner). It gave me goosebumps; you pretty much need an IMAX screen for that kind of stuff.
  • Speaking of the crowd: I need to see a Big Rock Show with a Latin American audience. “Where the Streets Have No Name” was magical; watch the crowd’s reaction to the Edge’s opening guitar line!
  • Girls in sports bras. I love girls in sports bras. And…uh, yeah. Let’s move on.
  • The cell phones held aloft during “One.” It was an impressive spectacle in a 20,000-seat arena; now multiply that effect times five. (And while we’re at it: I still say that moment was forced. It looks great–but it never worked for me. Nor did putting Paul Martin’s phone number up on the video screens, for that matter.)
  • Capturing the feel of the Vertigo tour, warts n’ all. The setlist is as predictable as ever, which is par for the U2 course. If you saw the Vertigo tour, you’re getting pretty much the exact same experience here; all the major signposts are present and accounted for (with the blatant exception of “City of Blinding Lights”), and the parts which dragged on stage (i.e., the interminable middle section where Bono wears that stupid bandana) drag in 3D as well (although “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was pretty good). I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: U2 need to rediscover their sense of adventure. Would it kill them to play more Achtung Baby?
  • “Yahweh”, which came as a surprise. The “actual” ending didn’t work for me, because “With or Without You” is not a closing number (even “The Fly” would’ve worked better). But when the credits started, they played over a gorgeous version of “Yahweh,” and while the song deserved to be front-and-centre its mere presence was a relief. By the way, “Yahweh” was the highlight of the Vertigo tour for me; it’s also the best song on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

In the end, U23D is pretty much what you’d expect: loud-ish, overwhelming and in your face. If you’re a fan, or if you saw the Vertigo tour, you’ll probably love it. And if not, you’ll spend an hour-and-a-half waving your hands in front of your face trying to touch Bono. You win either way!

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