U2 Vertigo Tour
Vertigo Tour 3rd leg: North America
: Madison Square Garden - New York, New York, USA
Unified U2 can still scale the city walls(published on 2005-10-10)
BY GLENN GAMBOA
October 10, 2005
Though Nobel Peace Prize nominee and outspoken front man Bono attracts the most attention, U2 has always been a rock-and-roll all-star team.
On "With or Without You," the final encore Friday night at the sold-out Madison Square Garden, U2's supporting players not only showed how they provide the steady foundation that lets Bono strive for greatness, but also how their continuing innovations help drive the band forward.
Adam Clayton added a bit more funk to the basslines. Larry Mullen Jr.'s drumming got a bit more aggressive. The Edge chopped and twisted his guitar riffs to give the ballad some spine and a sense of experimentation. All the while, Bono sang sweetly at the edge of the band's elliptical stage, as he hugged a woman from the audience for nearly the entire song.
It was a rare, quiet time for Bono, who spent most of the 2 hour, 20 minute set fulfilling his duties as lover and fighter, gadfly and peacemaker, politician and preacher, and, oh, yeah, front man for the best rock band around today.
Ever aware of his surroundings, Bono changed the lyrics to several songs to reflect the current state of the world. The cathartic "Where the Streets Have No Name" included the line "I want to take shelter from hurricanes." The aching "Miss Sarajevo," which featured Bono ably tackling the operatic part handled on record by Luciano Pavarotti, ended with the question, "Is there a time for human rights?" Bono replaced the Irish flag at center stage with an American one during the life-during-wartime anthem "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," saying, "This is your song now." Unfortunately, he's right.
Reflecting the latest terrorist threat against New York, Bono changed the end of the gorgeous encore "Yahweh" to "Take this city's heart and keep it safe," adding, "Stay safe, New York."
It seemed a fitting match to the set-opening, "City of Blinding Lights," written to capture the dizzying feeling of excitement and possibility the band experienced on its first visit to New York 25 years ago. As confetti fell from the ceiling, neon lights raced along the outline of the huge stage and colors flashed on the video-screen beads, Bono sang, "They're advertising in the skies for people like us."
The set list for this run at the Garden (three more shows this week, and another two next month) is similar to the first pass through supporting the "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" (Interscope) album in May. However, the dynamics are different. "Miracle Drug" is more of a centerpiece now, instead of "Vertigo." "All Because of You" is harder-edged and way more fun, while the wind-up to "One" seems more emotional.
There's also more hugging and audience participation, U2's way of showing it realizes that the fifth man on its all-star team - its faithful audience - is pretty first-rate, too.
Often plagiarised, never matched.