U2 Elevation Tour
Elevation Tour 3rd leg: North America
: Joyce Center - South Bend, Indiana, USA
U2 rocks the Joyce CenterSara Galer (published on 2001-10-11)
South Bend - "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate."
In the end, maybe it was U2’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic "What’s Going On?" that said it best. The Irish foursome brought a packed Joyce Center to its feet for nearly two hours Wednesday night. It marked the opening night of the final leg of the band’s Elevation Tour.
Garbage open with solid set
Belying their name, Garbage opened up with a solid set of grinding guitars and shimmering vocals. Singer Shirley Manson admitted to being nervous for the band’s first gig in two years, but it didn’t show. Their set included the recognizable "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl." Opening for U2 must be a little tough when the audience is so geared up for the main act, but Garbage pulled it off nicely.
Messages were hard to miss
It was hard not to watch without thinking about September 11th, and the attacks were clearly on the band’s mind as well. The band opened with its anthemic "It’s a Beautiful Day," followed by "Until the End of the World," off the soundtrack from the 1991 Wim Wenders film of the same name. But the band soon moved into its early era, with "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year’s Day" – songs from the album "War," released in 1983. The messages bear as much relevance today as they did when the songs first came out.
Heart-shaped stage brings band closer to fans
U2’s heart-shaped stage took up most of the floor, and a few hundred or so fans were allowed ‘inside’ the heart, giving the arena the feel of a small club. The advantage of the stage was readily apparent: Bono and guitarist the Edge made full use of it, playing to different sections of the gleeful audience. It also gave the fans a chance to see the chemistry of these long-time band members up close as Bono taunted the Edge for a guitar solo. Just before "The Streets Have No Name," Bono did a full run around the entire stage.
U2 are a band full of great moments, and a stellar light show (clearly designed to work in much larger arenas, although it was fine in the Joyce, too) added to the fun. Large cloth curtains followed Bono around as he strutted the catwalk, unfurling and creating huge shadows. Lighted screens came up behind the band for "Mysterious Ways," with the silhouette of a woman dancing repeated on eight to ten screens. And a map of the universe was projected onto the ceiling and audience right after Bono mentioned the band’s live webcast of the show and the Edge’s answer as to how many people must be tuning in: "The whole universe must be watching."
It was an intimate setting for a mega-band who usually play much larger venues. Bono hardly had to get the audience going for them to sing along for "Stuck in the Moment" and "Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For." Also a treat for long-time fans was "Bad," off the Unforgettable Fire album. "New York," the paean to that city’s seedy magnificence, featured some altered lyrics in reference to Sept. 11th, including a reference to "religious nuts."
NY firefighters, police honored
But the most memorable point of the show was when Bono brought out a dozen or so members of New York’s Fire and Police Departments on stage. Dismissing his stardom and celebrity status, Bono praised the firefighters as the real heroes, and at the end of the final song of the night, the New Yorkers joined the band as they circled the audience on the catwalk. It was a powerful moment, and clearly one that the ever-optimistic Bono wanted to stick with the audience.
In the prelude to "One," he called for an end to the grinding poverty that afflicts the majority of the world’s populations. He also asked pharmaceuticals to drop their opposition to generic AIDS drugs being sold in countries like South Africa. And there was praise for Notre Dame's ACE program.
But mostly, it was about the music. U2 delved into their vast repository of soaring melodies and came up with the goods.
- Sara Galer
Often plagiarised, never matched.