U2 Elevation Tour
Elevation Tour 1st leg: North America
: Arrowhead Pond - Anaheim, California, USA
U2Darryl Morden (published on 2001-04-26)
Source: Hollywood Reporter
By Darryl Morden
Elevation indeed, as a music-focused U2 lifted spirits high and wide for well over two hours in the first of three local area dates that wrap up Thursday night.
The heart-shaped stage, which allows several hundred of the ever-faithful inside the perimeter, leaving U2 frontman Bono surrounded on both sides, was an apt metaphor for a concert that's all about giving, not taking -- from both the band and fans.
Entering boldly with house lights up, the band launched into "Elevation," the tour's namesake, a track from their acclaimed album of last year, "All That You Can't Leave Behind." Then the double-barreled blast continued with the exuberant ironies of "Beautiful Day." Although there was concern at the start of the tour about a riotous general admission floor, the full house, including those on that floor, came together for music that doesn't divide but unites, creating community of shared ideals.
U2 perhaps has never sounded better. Dave "The Edge" Evans smiled most of the night on guitar, issuing his near-trademark sonic reverberations as well as more delicate string work, complemented by the voice of frontman Bono, who has become quite the soul singer, with falsettos and evocative phrasing. The rhythm section of bassist Adam Clayton and group founder and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were unerring as the band moved from the often rich and varied textures of their newest material to now-classic epics of rising hope.
The band has left behind the admittedly stunning iconic videography of the Zoo TV and over-the-top Pop tour trappings. Aside from some clever lighting and film noir-styled video screens, which enhanced rather than detracted, this one's all about those songs -- whether reaching back for the propulsive "I Will Follow" from the band's 1980 debut album, "Boy," or turning to the heartbeat-driven longings of "With or Without You." For every anthem, including the centerpiece push-and-pull release of "Bad" and the sweep of "Where the Streets Have No Name," there were far more subtle moments, as found in songs like "Kite" and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," dedicated most nights, including this one, to the late Michael Hutchence of INXS.
Coming off as both charmingly cheeky and rock-star proud and humble, Bono reached out through the evening for the numerous extended hands below him, rolled on his back, stole a kiss from a photo-snapping women in the inner part of the heart stage, jogged, jumped and wrapped the Edge in a Irish flag tossed onstage for "Sunday Bloody Sunday." At night's end, he thanked fans for giving him and his mates a great life.
As they did for their San Diego date last week, the band acknowledged their debt to the late Joey Ramone with Bono introducing "In a Little While" as Ramone's favorite song when he died. The delicate soul ballad began a triad of songs featuring just the Edge's guitar and Bono's vocals as they moved into the seductive "Stay," then a stripped-down "Desire," the clapping audience providing the Bo Diddley beat.
Following footage of NRA spokesman Charlton Heston commenting that it's bad people who do bad things and guns are neither good nor evil, the band challenged the idea with their own explosive "Bullet the Blue Sky," where the innocents are the true victims, no matter who wields weaponry. They later countered dread with the rousing "Pride (In the Name of Love)," about a man of vision whose life was taken by a gun, Martin Luther King Jr.
During a final encore, a stirring "One," Bono championed his cause of Third World debt relief through Jubilee 2000, quipping that even "a rock star can talk about shit like that." Then came a short piece of the Ramones' "I Remember You," punk balladry scaled down with a tear and a smile.
The band closed with "Walk On," a new song about rebirth and rededication, proving U2 to be men in a music world now overpopulated by the likes of boy bands and rebel-without-a-clue rap rockers in a teen state of arrested development. With probing, lasting songs and a power of performance that has placed them in lineage that can be traced from the likes of the Beatles, Stones and the Who through Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's recent two-year tour, U2 is clearly still a whole other league, with no flying lemons needed, thank you.
Often plagiarised, never matched.