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U2 Elevation Tour

Elevation Tour 1st leg: North America

: Saddledome - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

View all performances at Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

U2 from the heart

Mike Bell (published on 2001-04-09)

Source: Calgary Sun

First Dome show a stunner
By MIKE BELL -- Calgary Sun

Saddledome, Calgary
Monday, April 9, 2001

CALGARY -- When it comes to U2, for most people, bigger is better.

But for others -- admittedly, myself included -- as the Dublin act has increased the size of its sound, stature and stage show, the level of interest has responded inversely.

The band's Popmart tour, which waddled its bloated self into Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium for two shows in 1997, signalled the pinnacle of that apathy.

The over-the-top extravaganza with its enormous lemon, disco ball and huge jumbo screens was entirely about ego and spectacle with the music acting merely as a soundtrack.

Which is fine. Some of the best concert acts (Pink Floyd, Kiss) have successfully incorporated theatricality into rock 'n' roll, but the fact that U2 had purposefully distanced itself from the music -- even as an exercise in "irony" or a comment on the coming millennial Zeitgeist or whatever -- was tough to swallow.

That's why last evening's sold-out Saddledome show -- the band's first-ever in Calgary, as well as the first in a two-night stand -- was a refreshing re-introduction to what first made U2 so exciting.

To everyone.

Front and centre, for the most part, was the music -- over two hours of material from the past two decades of the Irish group's up-and-down, nine studio-album career (not including Rattle & Hum).

And everything about this tour is about enhancing the power of that music in order for the quartet to reconnect with its audience, not alienate them.

The rush seating, the minimal light show and the stage itself -- a heart-shaped area which includes a section for 300 lucky fans to get even more up close and personal -- enhance that back-to-basics approach.

To further that, they took to the stage with the Dome's houselights up full and to a recorded version of the tour's namesake, Elevation, from their latest album, All That You Can't Leave Behind.

And the moment that frontman Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. took over from the recording and made a little Elevation of their own, was more than a little symbolic and a whole lot electrifying.

They raised the roof with the sweet, simple, pure power of rock 'n' roll.

From there, the veterans slid into a surprisingly effective version of All That You Can't Leave Behind's first single, Beautiful Day.

After hearing it incessantly on radio and Much Music, it was quite a feat to make it fresh, but that's exactly what they did.

For the remainder of the show, the band pulled out the obvious (the anthemic New Year's Day from 1983's classic War), the surprising (In A Little While, one of the best songs from their latest release) and yes, even the ill-advised (New York, one of the worst).

What was most striking about last night was the sense of unscripted fun the band brought to the show, and subsequently, the music.

Watching Bono play bull to The Edge's electric guitar matador came across as off-the-cuff and playful, and not manipulative and rehearsed.

And Bono worked the room -- all sides of it -- and walked the heart-shaped catwalk like everyone's favourite uncle at a family wedding.

Maybe that's because it was only the eighth show into the world tour and they're still feeling loosey-goosey, but it's also probably, thankfully, something more.

You get the sense that U2 no longer feel the need or the pressure to go out of their way to stiffly prove that they have a sense of humour about themselves and their music.

At times, Bono's rock star antics can wear a little thin (especially during his faux guitar-playing during I Will Follow -- is that thing even plugged in?), but for the most part he just gave everyone what they were looking for: A focal point and, again, an easy conduit inside the music.

Sure, the band and the media proclaiming the quartet saviours of rock 'n' roll -- while for the past decade they've been more than active participants in the collusion to kill it -- is still a little hypocritical.

But after last night, U2 has come a long way towards getting unstuck out of that moment and leaving it all behind. (More on U2)


U2 Elevation Tour poster -- $15 (CDN)
Pins and/or buttons -- $3
Key chains -- $12
Luggage tag -- $16
Belt buckle -- $30
Mouse pad -- $16
T-shirts -- $46
Large baby blue T-shirt featuring Bono -- $62
Toques -- $40
Baseball T-shirts -- $70
Hooded sweatshirts -- $100
Elevation Tour program -- $30


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