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U2 Vertigo Tour

Vertigo Tour 1st leg: North America

: Arrowhead Pond - Anaheim, California, USA

View all performances at Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, California, USA.


U2 magnificent in Anaheim

(published on 2005-04-02)

Source: The Orange County Register

Review: Having radically restructured its set, U2 proved even more potent at the Pond than at its tour kickoff in San Diego. So why no encore?

Saturday, April 2, 2005

By BEN WENER
The Orange County Register


There are so many memorable moments from U2’s magnificent opener at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on Friday night worth discussing it seems odd to focus first on something that actually didn’t happen. Yet it’s surely what everyone who was there is still wondering: Where was the encore?

In one respect, the question needn’t be raised: This show ended as presumably all will on this tour, with the reinvigorated Irishmen stomping past the beefed-up glam-rock-for-God of "All Because of You," then slowing to a supernal close with their unplugged take on "Yahweh" and the revived hymn "40."

Bono dedicated that last piece to Pope John Paul II, who was on his deathbed at that hour. "Tonight we sing this for the Holy Father, a friend to the world’s poor," he said as the Edge (having swapped instruments with Adam Clayton) strummed the song’s familiar bass line.

Then he removed his crucifix, kissed it, hung it from his microphone stand and began the group’s one-by-one recessional from the stage.

That would havemade for a supremely satisfying finish to this two-hour deluge of emotion, which began aggressively and continued to gain potency and momentum, topping the pace and energy of Monday’s Vertigo 2005 Tour kickoff in San Diego.

If only the house lights had come up immediately after the band exited. Instead, the arena remained dark for what felt like five minutes. It may have been less, but time tends to stand still during such interminable pauses – and once 30 seconds passes without any crew emerging to tear down gear, the audience justifiably expects it will hear at least one more song.

Not surprisingly, the abrupt that’s-all-folks drew boos as loud as the cheers that preceded it.

So what happened? Was an 11 p.m. curfew strictly imposed? That’s possible, and logical, but also dubious; I’ve seen more than a few bashes here run a half-hour later than that, and I can’t imagine any Pond officials complaining if U2 had wanted to do another 10 minutes.

Did the band decide this particular crowd didn’t merit a slight return? That seems impossible. These fans were arguably more overcome than those on hand in San Diego, enthusiastically embracing not just staples in the set list but also Bono’s push for African aid and awareness and various other social statements – an unusual move from a region known to shout disapproval at rockers who make political asides.

Could it be, then – and this is what I think really happened – that the radical but rewarding rearrangement of the show’s musical segments, just three gigs in, threw the band for a loop?

Perhaps you, too, noticed U2’s main set seemed due to stop with "Vertigo," this night pushed back in the running order (more on that in a moment). Clayton and the Edge had unstrapped their axes, and Bono, having just sung "Hello, hello … goodbye," had given the guitarist acongratulatory hug. (I believe he muttered a deserved "Well done, gentlemen" as the number ended.)

Then came a brief huddle, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. gave a let’s-keep-going indication – and on they went into "All Because of You."

In that sense, we got our encore – and only one less song than San Diego scored at either of its shows. Yet the expectations that intensely mounted in those minutes in the dark couldn’t help but lead to a crushing letdown. Though it’s still very early in this international trek, here was the moment when U2 could have delivered that extra something, a bonus to really make those hundreds of dollars (thousands, even) that devotees doled out for tickets seem worth every cent.

And the delayed house lights suggest U2 was considering offering more, which must have had in-the-know types aflutter. After all, nearly everything in the show had been shifted.

For instance, the strikingly militant midsection – "Love and Peace or Else" into "Sunday Bloody Sunday" into "Bullet the Blue Sky" without pause, followed by the broodingly beautiful "Running to Stand Still" and a visual reminder of universal human rights – was now at the beginning, after each member entered by scoping out the crowd with spotlights while lapping the "elipse" (what the loop that encircles the stage is being called).

Rather than teasing with "Boy" oldies before getting to the meat of the message, this switch instantly asserted the evening’s themes: equality for everyone, don’t turn a blind eye to suffering, peace now, love is all you need.

The insertion of a robust "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" swiftly carried the substance of that bold start into the next, unchanged segment: a still-spectral "New Year’s Day" followed by a stronger "Miracle Drug" and this evening’s most moving moment, "Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own."

With Bono trading swaggering poses for believable introspection, this was one of those rare times when the outsized superstar has appeared unguarded, his soul bared as he sang a warts-and-all tribute to his late father: "And it’s you when I look in the mirror / And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone."

Taking off again, "Beautiful Day" served as the entrance to a portion that so far has led U2’s encore: "Pride (In the Name of Love)," the crowd chanting as if at a soccer match while Bono recited the same short speech about Martin Luther King he debuted Monday; "Where the Streets Have No Name," more stirring and urgent than it’s been in years; and "One," before which Bono urged the audience to get out cell phones to text-message for information about the One Campaign (also at www.one.org), designed to enlist a million Americans for African relief work.

"Get our medicine out there, get our smarts out there," he implored. "That’s the proving ground now. It might have been civil rights in America in the ’60s, but it’s Africa now."

What remained, after an inexplicable break not long enough to qualify as an intermission, was the usual end ("Zoo Station," a much-redeemed version of "The Fly," the always rousing "Elevation") mashed into the usual start (a confetti-filled "City of Blinding Lights" and "Vertigo").

Those halves were separated by a strut through "Mysterious Ways," accompanied by a devil doll yanked from the throng inside the loop. Theme-free as it was, all of it came off as gratitude toward the audience for having paid to encounter a charitable appeal along with some tremendous music.

I notice that once again I’ve talked more about what happened and what it might mean than how assured U2 sounds these days. Let me say this: No major-scale band, save for Pearl Jam and maybe Radiohead or Coldplay on particularly boisterous nights, plays with as much vigor and fervency, and none (including those) can leave its minions so inspired.

And what power from so few instruments! So overwhelming yet controlled is the Edge’s singular, chiming sound, so tense and insistent are Clayton and Mullen’s rhythms, that the minor flubs each man inevitably makes get amplified a thousand-fold.

But such goofs were very few, and the impact of the whole profound. Bono believes these guys are in their prime. He may be right after all. Encore or no encore.

I also haven’t said boo about opening act Kings of Leon, a notable bunch of modern-day rockers with the pulse of the Strokes beating from a Southern heart. I caught most of their set in San Diego and was thrice impressed – at how trenchantly their sometimes tinny guitars filled the hall, how relentlessly they blasted their way through song after song, and how they won over a scarcely interested crowd.

I regret to report that I missed their set entirely at the Pond, despite heading to the venue seemingly early enough to hear at least a handful of tunes. Such was the crawl down Katella Avenue on a night sporting two sell-outs – a concert at the Pond and a Freeway Series face-off at the Big A.

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