September 27, 2005
By Gavin J. Dow
From the start of its 22-song set Wednesday night in Milwaukee, U2 was on fire.
It certainly seemed like a special night for U2 and the Milwaukee fans, many of whom had waited outside in the rain for hours prior to the opening of the arena. Perhaps it was two favorable items in Wednesday’s news (the IRA’s announcement that it had disarmed fully and the debt-cancellation OKd by the IMF and World Bankâ€”more on these later), or perhaps it was the unusually energetic crowd. In either case, it meant that the band was at the top of its game.
The show opened with the one-two punch of â€œCity Of Blinding Lightsâ€ and â€œVertigo.â€ This has been the opening combination on the majority of North American shows on this tour and U2 has it down cold. Accompanied by the full voice of the crowd during portions of each song ("Oh … you … look … so beautiful tonight!" in â€œCityâ€ and the "Hola!" call-back of â€œVertigoâ€), Bono’s voice was powerful and on target. With drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton providing an unbeatable backbeat, The Edge powered through the two songs off of 2004′s â€œHow to Dismantle an Atomic Bombâ€ like it was the band’s first anniversary instead of its 29th. The difference, of course, is that The Edge didn’t have all those nifty guitar effects to play with back in the late ’70s.
After the popular and rousing â€œElevation,â€ U2 played two songs off of its first album, â€œBoy.â€ The first one, â€œThe Electric Co.,â€ has become a staple rocker of the Vertigo Tour, and rightfully so. The second song, â€œThe Ocean,â€ was somewhat of a downer but offered Bono the opportunity to talk about the band getting together for the first time, on September 25, 1976. This duo was followed by fan favorite â€œI Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,â€ a fitting choice. One thing U2 has done fairly consistently over the years is continue reaching forward, always expanding the scope of its music, and resisting the temptation to stick with what made it "Rock’s Hottest Ticket" in Time Magazine way back in 1987.
Demonstrating the strength of its catalog, U2 then played four post-2000 numbers. First up was a very strong rendition of â€œBeautiful Day,â€ off of 2000′s â€œAll That You Can’t Leave Behind.â€ Following were a trio of songs from â€œBomb.â€ The first two were slow songsâ€”â€œMiracle Drugâ€ and â€œSometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.â€ The former was surprisingly strong and the latter almost as passionate as it gets. Both songs are signature U2. Bono then announced that the IMF and World Bank had agreed to drop the debt of several third-world countries at the end of â€œMiracle Drugâ€ (which is â€œa song for the future,â€ according to Bono’s introduction to it). The third song, â€œLove and Peace or Else,â€ was a dirty rocker that contrasted drastically with the first two. While Bono joined Larry, who was banging on a drum at the tip of the elliptical walkway that extended into the middle of the floor, The Edge and Adam were able to show off their top-notch skills in what is essentially their songâ€”to anyone who was watching.
One of the most stirring renditions in recent memory of the band’s famous â€œSunday Bloody Sundayâ€ followed. When Bono was given an Irish flag by a fan, he proudly held it up. He explained that in years past, he would not have felt comfortable with the flag because of what he said were referred to as the "troubles in Ireland." He went on to inform the audience that the Provisional IRA had announced that all of its arms had been decommissioned. It was a very powerful moment for the band, as it provided a very distinct sense of closure when compared to another performance of â€œSunday Bloody Sundayâ€ from 1987, immortalized in the movie â€œRattle and Hum,â€ in which Bono proclaimed (among other things), "Fuck the revolution." Bono then finished the song with the flag wrapped around his microphone.
Following â€œSunday Bloody Sundayâ€ was another war-themed song, â€œBullet the Blue Sky.â€ â€œBulletâ€ saw the band getting back on script, with Bono assuming the pose of a blindfolded prisoner of war, a move that becomes more cringe-worthy every time one sees it. Even so, the song was furious and loud, the way it’s supposed to be. Careful listeners were able to hear three snippets: besides the usual lines from â€œWhen Johnny Comes Marching Homeâ€ and U2′s own â€œThe Hands That Built America,â€ Bono sang one line from â€œPlease,â€ which was the nightâ€™s only representation of the band’s maligned masterpiece, â€œPop.â€ â€œBullet was followed by The Passengersâ€™ â€œMiss Sarajevo,â€ from a 1995 collaboration with longtime producer and friend Brian Eno. While the song originally featured Luciano Pavarotti, Bono attempted his lines with mixed success; enough to keep concertgoers from cringing, while not approaching the level of the famed tenor.
Rounding off the main set were three hits that were used to push Bono’s One Campaign and general African theme. â€œPride (In the Name of Love)â€ sounded almost as good as it ever has live, with massive audience participation. This was followed by the beloved classic â€œWhere the Streets Have no Name,â€ which served as the climax of the show. The crowd’s roar was deafening by the end of the song, causing Bono to stop on the catwalk and stare at the crown with genuine wonder as the song wound down. It was a rare wow moment for one of rock’s most accomplished frontmen. The main set was finished off by â€œOne,â€ under a sea of cell-phone lightsâ€”â€œa 21st century moment,â€ according to Bono.
The encore opened with a change of pace: The Edge and Bono appeared and played â€œThe First Time,â€ from 1993′s â€œZooropa,â€ for the second time in U2 history. The acoustic-plus-voice theme continued with a beautiful rendition of â€œWho’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,â€ which featured a rare mistake by U2, when Bono and The Edge mixed signals, requiring a restart of the song to everyone’s general amusement. The band finished the first encore with a pretty good version of the ever-popular â€œWith or Without You,â€ which saw the requisite girl-on-stage-with-Bono, as well as a return of the enormously loud crowd participation.
The second encore was off to a rocking start by â€œAll Because Of You,â€ a song that I maintain should be played directly after â€œVertigo,â€ but worked pretty well this time around. The fast pace was quickly discontinued with an acoustic version of â€œYahweh,â€ which the band still insists on playing over far-superior songs. However, it provided another light moment when Bono came in early with his vocals, resulting in an amused grimace by The Edge. After a laugh by the band, they got back on track on played the song. The last song of the night was the glorious "40,â€ complete with the traditional switching of instruments between The Edge and Adam (the story goes that Adam missed the recording of "40,â€ and so feels that The Edge, who supplied the bass line for the song originally, should also play it live) and the one-at-a-time exits." Finally left on stage alone at the end of the night was the 29-year-old band’s originator, Larry, providing a fitting end to a very happy birthday for U2.
September 26, 2005
By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor
Most fans dream of making their way onto U2′s stage, playing with the band, dancing with Bono or just plain clowning around. During the Vertigo Tour’s third-leg start at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, U2 has managed the make the dreams of several U2 fans come true, including that of Toronto-based Menew, a rock outfit featuring Shade on lead vocals and guitar, Key on piano and synthesizers, Nathan Samuel Phillip on drums and backing vocals, and Jason Machado on bass.
U2.com describes the band’s once-in-a-lifetime moment at the September 16th show this way:
Spotting an inviting sign in the crowd ("U2 + a song with our band = a happy crowd"), before we quite know what is happening a local Toronto band are up on stage to perform their own version of Out of Control. With Edge joining Menew (as we discover they are called) on guitar (he could go far), Shade, Key and Nathan Samuel Phillip showed they know how to rock ‘n’ rollâ€”and the locals loved them.
So what’s it like to not only get on stage with the members of U2 but to also have a crack at their instruments and one of their classics? Interference.com asked the members of Menew to sum up the experience that hasn’t quite sunken in yet.
When and how did the band form?
Shade: The band was built on a friendship from a very young age and became official when we decided to buy a set of drums. We have been doing it seriously for about four years.
How would you describe the Menew sound?
Key: We find itâ€™s hard to describe our band in a sentence or two, and we don’t usually try, but it is rock and it has roll. I think we sound more British than anything else.
Where did the name Menew come from?
Nathan: We were looking for a unique and universal name, more of a symbol than a word, without restrictions on language. We took the name from two signs merged together in our garage and later made it similar to a palindrome with the reversed E.
(Photo courtesy of Menew.)
How long have you all been U2 fans?
Nathan: I remember hearing U2 for the first time riding the bus on the way to elementary school and since then we have all been huge fans. We have always looked up to them. One of the reasons we formed our band was because of U2.
Is your sound greatly influenced by U2?
Shade: We are greatly influenced by U2 as well as many other great performers, although we do not try to mimic any one of them, but use them as inspiration. Writing and saying something that has meaning and has never been done is the best part of being in Menew.
Where did you get the idea to try to get on stage in Toronto?
Shade: I think everyone wants to go on stage with U2, we just had to get their attention and say it in a quick and clever way. Knowing how Bono is, it seemed like something he would be interested in. We have to thank them all again for that opportunity.
Had you tried to get on stage prior to Friday’s success?
Key: No, we only had tickets for Friday.
How did you get the attention of the band?
Shade: We had a large sign and we were on the rail so it was hard for them not to see us.
When did you realize that your plan worked and you were going up on stage?
Key: During the show Bono looked at us a few times but it was confirmed in the second encore during "Yahweh." He came over in the middle of the song and asked us a few questions and told us we would be coming up.
What went through your mind at the moment?
Nathan: It was unreal. We were very excited.
How did it feel to be on U2′s stage with the band?
Key: Actually we felt very comfortable. They are great guys and were very nice and easy to talk to. We felt so privileged to be playing with the biggest band in the world.
What kind of reaction did you get from the crowd?
Shade: The crowd was very welcoming. We have been swarmed with e-mails from U2 fans that are new Menew fans. They really seemed to enjoy it.
How did you end up playing "Out of Control" and how do you think it went?
Key: Bono asked us what song we wanted to play. Knowing that "Out of Control" was their first single off their first album, we felt it was fitting because we are a band early in our career. When Nathan started the drum beat and the bass came in the crowd went insane. Then when Shade stepped up to the mic the volume of the crowd soared even louder. For not being a cover band I think we pulled it off very well.
(Photo courtesy of Menew.)
What interaction did you have with the guys in U2?
Key: Besides the conversations before we settled into our instruments, there were moments when Bono would signal a chorus and there were interactions between The Edge, Shade and Nathan. Everyone on the stage was communicating and Bono had said he felt there was a connection.
What reaction did they have to your performance?
Nathan: They were really having a lot of fun up there with us, as we were, too. I think they were surprised at how well we played. I recall when Bono and Edge were nodding their heads to me impressed with the performance.
What was going through your mind after being put back onto the floor?
Shade: We were overwhelmed and in shock at what just happened.
How long did it take for what had happened to sink in?
Shade: It still hasn’t entirely sunk in.
What kind of impact do you see this experience having on your band?
Key: It’s already helping with everythingâ€”fans, interviews, TV, publicity.
What’s next for Menew?
Nathan: We have just released an EP produced by Rick Parashar [who's worked with Pearl Jam and Bon Jovi] and will be touring and promoting it in the coming months.
Do you guys plan to make your way onto U2′s stage again?
Shade: Anythingâ€™s possible for Menew.
Many thanks to Simon Flight and the members of Menew for taking the time the answer these questions.
September 26, 2005
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By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor
Numerous books and articles have been written on the subjectâ€”what is it really like to be Bono? And while no one will ever truly know what it’s like to spend your days and nights as the former Paul Hewson, a select few guys do get a taste of Bono’s life every time they walk on stage to perform with their respective tribute bands.
So what’s it like to step into Bono’s shoes as these performers do? What makes someone a good Bono? And with all the time they spend pretending, would any of them ever actually want to trade places with Bono? Shawn Brady of Elevation Canada, Paul Collyer of U2UK, Joshua Fryvecind of Zoo Station, Gabriel Harkins of October, Mark Smith of Vertigo USA, Jason Thiesen of The Joshua Tree and Thomas Thornton of 2U share their thoughts on what it’s like being Bono.
Shawn Brady of Elevation Canada
(Copyright Â© 2004 Jorge Chaves)
Shawn Brady’s life is all about contrasts. "I lead a double life," the singer of Toronto-based Elevation Canada says. "During the day I work in a hospital helping elderly people and directing physiotherapy services, at night I have leather pants on and sing my guts out, it’s quite the contrast."
Brady (as he’s best known by his friends) first became a U2 fan back in the last ’80s after borrowing his sister’s "Joshua Tree" record. He didn’t start performing as Bono, though, until nearly 15 years later. "I started in the fall of 2001," he says. "I did some singing prior to that but I was more of a guitar player. I put an ad to start a U2 tribute band but initially I was open to either being Bono or The Edge."
Today Brady, who’s favorite U2 era to perform is ZooTV, is happy to spend his off-hours as Bono. He believes he has quite a few special characteristics that make him the right man for that particular job. "Other than the obvious musical requirements in terms of voice, guitar and harmonica, I sing with a lot of passion similar to Bono," he says. "Furthermore, I have the exact same chest hair pattern, I lose things on a daily basis and I’m a terrible driver."
With all those similarities and more than three years spent performing as the man, does Brady want to trade places with Bono? "No," he says. "I have a fantastic girlfriend, family and group of friends and a great job where I get to help people on a daily basis. I’m a lucky guy."
Paul Collyer of U2UK
(Photo: Ben Saunders)
Paul Collyer, singer with Midlands-based U2UK, has been a U2 fan since the "War" days when he and his brother saw the band perform at the Derby Assembly Rooms. He performed U2 songs for several years but got into the tribute band thing after appearing on the British show "Stars in Their Eyes" as Bono in March 2002.
"I simply love U2′s music and it actually feels like me up there, it just feels right and comfortable," Collyer says of performing with U2UK. "It doesn’t feel like a tribute anymore, it’s just us. In fact, there’s a band out there called U2 and they’re nicking our songs."
Collyer believes his love of U2′s music is what makes him a good Bono. "I can honestly say that I would no do a tribute to another act," he says. "People tell us that they can close their eyes and it’s the same feeling as being at a U2 gig. It makes me very proud to know that we can make people feel that way."
But while he has the experience of making people feel the way Bono does in concert, would Collyer ever want to step into the man’s shoes? "I admire him and the band so much for what they do," he says. "They’re not just a band, they’re a movement. I’m a more humble human being than that but give me the chance to step on their stage for an evening and I’d take it, big style."
Joshua Fryvecind of Zoo Station
When he takes the stage with San Francisco’s Zoo Station, Joshua Fryvecind is no longer himself, he’s Bonalmost. A musician for many years, Fryvecind has always been in bands that played U2′s music but never really considered being in a U2 tribute band. "I hated cover bands," he says. "I happened, however, to see a band one night on a complete whim â€¦ the newly formed Zoo Station."
At the time, the band had a different singer, but Fryvecind was taken with the music and less than impressed with the singer. "For the first time I wanted to be Bono or at least play the role on stage," he says.
Since joining up with Zoo Station, Fryvecind has had many memorable performing moments, including playing at San Francisco’s Virgin Megastore the day "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" was released. "People asked us to sign [the CDs]," he says. "We kept telling them we weren’t U2 and our signatures were going to decrease the value of the albums they purchased but after we signed a lot of them, we took it as a complement."
Even after the Virgin experience, though, Fryvecind is certain he couldn’t handle any more than just a taste of what it’s like to be Bono. "I’m not man enough," he says.
gabrielvox of October
gabrielvox was introduced to U2 by a friend who’d just returned from England with an early bootleg. He soon bought "Boy" upon its release with money saved from his paper route and was hooked from that point on.
With that long a history as a U2 fan, it’s a little surprising it took gabrielvox as long as it did to start up a tribute band. "I’m not first and foremost a musician, I’m just a U2 fan who got a crazy idea to start a band," he says. gabrielvox, who takes to the stage as gabrielvox, finally got his Toronto-based dream band off the ground after 2001′s Elevation tour.
During the more than three years playing with October, named for one of his favorite U2 albums, gabrielvox has realized how difficult it can be to live up to being Bono. "I know the man is imperfect like all of us but sometimes I find it difficult to stomach the comparisons to Bono when I know just how much good work he has done in his life and how little I’ve been able to accomplish yet," he says. "Bono is more than just Bono the lead singer of U2 and knowing that is sometimes a crushing weight."
Though he sometimes feels uneasy trying to live up to all that Bono’s done, Fryvecind believes that one day he’ll make a similar mark on the world all his own. "Would I ever want to trade places with Bono and lead U2? Maybe for a song, I’m working on that angle still, but otherwise, maybe not," he says. "Would I ever like to be the lead singer of an accomplished band that wasn’t only commercially successful but spiritually, mentally and emotionally uplifting to people? Definitely. Who knows, if I keep dreaming big, maybe someday."
Mark Smith of Vertigo USA
Mark Smith first started performing as Bono back in 1985. While the venue may not be as exciting as the ones he plays now with Chicago-based Vertigo USA, everyone’s got to start somewhere. "My bathroom," he says of the place he first took a stab at being Bono. "Black Goody comb in tow, sporting a sweet mullet and frosted tips. Didn’t we all want to be Bono?"
Smith, who spends his days a development director for Midway Games, names the wardrobe as one of the best parts of playing Bono. "I like having an excuse to buy an Armani suit, D&G glasses and an old-school pair of Creepers," he says. "I’m a pretty reserved guy and this is a great way to put on another hat and step outside of my box for a while. It also helps that I’m singing along with some amazing musicians to my favorite songs of all time."
Creating the whole Bono experience is something that Smith enjoys but also takes quite seriously. "It’s something that I think I’ll always work on," he says. "The great part is that it’s ever changing, unlike impersonating Elvis Jim Morrison, this story is yet untold. Something new lurks around the corner and all us wannabes will jump on board."
But would Smith jump at the chance to trade places with Bono for real? "What? And be the most recognized rock star on Earth; owner of the World Bank; president of four countries; creator of the iPod, the mullet and perhaps life itself; friend to Oprah, Mandela and Justin Timberlake; author of "Sex Appeal 101;" 500-time Grammy nominee; billionaire extraordinaire with a lifelong gig singing the best damn music ever created? Hmm, let me think about it," he says.
Jason Thiesen of The Joshua Tree, LA
It’s easy to see why one performance in March of this year stands out as a favorite for Jason Thiesen, singer with Los Angeles-based The Joshua Tree, it was the time he and has bandmates played in San Diego just hours before U2 kicked off the Vertigo Tour. "We were on a flatbed truck at the Tower Records there and performed for nearly three hours to hundreds of people," he says. "I was really in the zone that day and had such a great time performing. Then, after we were done, the whole band and our friends went over and saw the real deal."
Thiesen perfects his Bono act by watching DVDs and practicing as much as possible with his band. Getting down the "Bono swagger" is something he finds essential. "I compare him to a drunken orangutan in that he always seems to be squatting and having his arms in the air and looking as if he’s going to fall over at any moment," he says.
There may be times when Thiesen does too good of a job playing Bono, though, because sometimes fans can go a little too far. "There have been times where the line between reality and fantasy has been blurred for some," he says. "Unfortunately, alcohol helps blur that line even more for some women."
With a band he feels brings out his very best, would Thiesen ever want to leave all that behind to take on Bono’s life? "It would be fun to do one show in front of 15,000 people or at least a soundcheck with the boys," he says. "I also wouldn’t mind trading bank accounts."
Thomas Thornton of 2U
While Thomas Thornton may not really be Bono, his gig of playing Bono with 2U, a group billing itself as "The World’s Second Best U2 Show," keeps him gainfully employed full-time. In short, Thornton and his New York City-based bandmates do nothing else but play U2 music.
Thornton has been a U2 fan since first seeing the "Gloria" video back in 1982. That he joined a tribute band is something of a fluke. "I heard that a U2 tribute band was playing in my hometown [and] out of curiosity I went to see the show at a tiny local bar," he says. That band was Joshua Tree, soon to become 2U, and guitarist Joe Cumia struck up a conversation with Thornton before showtime. "He invited me on stage right then and there to sing ‘Mysterious Ways,’ I knew the words so I did," he says. "The rest is history."
That history includes blowing the minds of quite a few fans. "The fun part is seeing the audience react [to] me in full Bono gear," Thornton says. "I look out into the audience and see girls and guys nudging their friends with a huge smile and disbelief on this faces."
Sometimes, though, Thornton gets a little more than just looks from the crowd. "Lots of Bono ass grabbing by overzealous girls and guys, too," he says. "Itâ€™s okay when the women grab a cheek but for the guys that might be going a little too far."
Would Thornton consider the opportunity to trade places with Bono taking it too far? "At first thought anyone would answer, ‘Who wouldn’t? To live the life of a true rock legend?” he says. "But after giving that question some real thought, I’d have to say no. While it would be a tempting offer, I’m quite happy in my own skin and with my own life. Besides, where it concerns the most fun part of Bono’s life, I do get to trade places with him, even if it’s only for a few hours, a couple of nights a week on stage."
September 22, 2005
By Chrissi Blaesing
Having seen all four U2 shows in Chicago last May that culminated in the much-lauded May 12 show, I felt confident that no show could top that. I was wrong. The band that I saw perform Tuesday was fresh, funny, risky, spontaneous, making a large arena feel more like an intimate clubâ€”in other words this is the U2 that makes one want to see as many shows as possible. The crowd at the United Center seemed to be comprised more of diehard fans this outing than last spring, the people in my section aware of the set lists to date and what everyone wanted to hear. Once again, seeing a U2 show with other members of the U2 "tribe" makes the whole event all the more special.
The now-familiar opening of the Arcade Fire’s "Wake Up" starting playing at full volume and most of the general admission crowd was swaying and singing along with the music. The lights dimmed and unmistakable opening of "City of Blinding Lights" started. While opening with "Vertigo" in the past immediately upped the intensity of the audience, "City of Blinding Lights" steady build-up evoked more of a sense of anticipation and wonderment. "Vertigo" was up next and the entire audience was in a frenzy chanting back to Bono’s "Hello, hello." "Elevation" continued to prove itself a crowd favorite with Larry Mullen Jr. singing the chorus along with Bono and The Edge. Old catalog favorite "The Electric Co" saw a playful Edge taking a walkabout around the ellipse much to the delight of the audience and Bono, who met up with him on Adam Clayton’s side to chat with the guitarist on what night it actually was. Bono then added a snippet of The Doorsâ€™ classic "Break On Through" to the end of "The Electric Co." Prior to the start of "The Ocean" Bono took a stroll down memory lane by talking about one of the band’s first gigs in Chicago dancing on tables that had about 17 people in attendanceâ€”13 or 14 of which where members of U2′s own crew.
As "The Ocean" ended Bono told the audience that U2 wanted to try out a new song that hasn’t been played on the Vertigo Tour yet. This news earned thunderous applause from the entire audience that had Bono chuckling and saying something along the lines of, "So you’ve seen the show before?" "Walk On" then made its Vertigo Tour debut in an understated acoustic version that went well until the end when Bono forgot the lyrics. Bono looked over to the multi-talented Edge to finish the song saying, "You know the lyrics. I wish I knew the lyrics." Bono headed over to Clayton’s side where a couple of pages of lyrics were shoved in his hand and then hastily ripped back outâ€”Bono and Clayton both seemed to be amused by the unfolding events, laughing with each other. Eventually the right lyrics were handed to the singer and he ambled back to the microphone to finish the song, lyrics in hand, all the while Edge provided backup vocals. Moments that show U2′s humanity, humility and humor are what separate a good U2 show from an exceptional one. Any fan can put an album on to hear the perfectly mastered studio version of a song but most fans treasure moments like these that show the band taking a chance on a new song or arrangementâ€”it shows the true strength of U2 as a live band.
Describing it as a song that will never go anywhere, Bono segues into "Beautiful Day" with the lights blazing in the arena. A snippet of The Beatlesâ€™ classic "Sgt. Pepperâ€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band" was tagged onto the end of "Beautiful Day" and the core "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" section of the show commenced. "Miracle Drug" was dedicated again to the scientists, doctors and nurses. Bono stated that when he hears the opening cords of "Miracle Drug" it gives him faith in the future. An Edge love-fest ensued with Edge nailing his vocal solo more clearly than I have heard on the tour to date.
The opening dedication to "Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own" was different Tuesday night; Bono recalling that someone, possibly The Pretenders’ frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, said that all women stay around age 13 and all men stay around age eight. Bono then went on to state that it’s not a therapy session but the song is about Bob Hewson. For those of us that follow the usual set list for most of the Vertigo Tour, it’s almost expected that "Love and Peace or Else" follows "Sometimes" so most were a bit shocked to see a single spotlight on Edge opening up the usually reserved for the second encore song "Yahweh." Regardless of the position in the set this song is received well as it the accompanying visuals. It should be noted that the placement of "Yahweh" prior to "Love and Peace or Else" really drives home the "coexist" message vital to the core political message of the show that has Bono is a reflective mode after "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky." The singer talked about the struggles of terrorism and the pervasiveness of fear in Northern Ireland, stating that the only thing that terrorists have in common is that they value ideas over people. Bono went on to say that, as a band, U2 values people over ideas and with Edge on piano begins to sing "Miss Sarajevo." The rendition is hauntingly beautiful and as Bono effortlessly tackled Luciano Pavarotti’s part of the song the audience was torn between erupting into applauding or standing in mute shock at this bit of opera in a rock show. The pervasive message of equality has a modern twist now in the light of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina with "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" sending the audience into a frenzy again. Clayton made his way down to the tip of the ellipse to meet with Bono for a quick hug and a scan of the general admission fans on the outer rail. Both men seemed to be staring at something in particularâ€”it seemed some fans had made letters spelling out "Mofo." This earned amused looks from both the bassist and the singer.
"One" ended with the familiar coda of "Can you hear us coming Lord â€¦" that was missing from the first leg version of the song. I found this inclusion rounded the song out, much the same way that the "shine like stars in the summer night â€¦" coda makes "With or Without You" seem more complete. Again, little extras like this are where songs take on a new life in the live setting and make the songs personal fan favorites. A snippet of "Old Man River" closed out the main set as it has for the first shows of the third leg, again a nod to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The first encore of the night has no introductionâ€”the new version of "Discotheque" that debuted in Toronto is brought to Chicago with each band member illuminated in PopMart colors. The lighting for "Discotheque" is truly something to be seen and hopefully this song will continue to make an appearance during the tour. "The Fly" was next with more surprises for the audience as Bono tagged a snippet of "Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" onto the end of "The Fly." The general admission crowd roared its approval for this snippet of a "Zooropa" song. A standard version of "With or Without You" ends the first encore with Bono flirting with ladies in the front row of the ellipse.
The band came back onstage for the second encore with little fanfare and launches into â€œAll Because of Youâ€ with Bono brandishing a tambourine in one hand. The next song is introduced by the singer as a song from â€œZooropa.â€œ Bono mentions that while talking with some fans outside the arena earlier that day the album was brought up as a fan favorite that was requested. Bono enlisted the help of a fan in the front row of the ellipse to translate the a phrase that was approximately â€œthere can be more than one first timeâ€ in Spanish, which she did graciously. Bono and The Edge then launch into â€œThe First Timeâ€ to the stunned shock of the audience who quickly recovered in time to help Bono chant â€œLoveâ€ over and over again at the end of the song, â€œFor the first time I feel love.â€ The audience loved itâ€”die hard and causal fans alike were really into the song. The night ended with my personal favorite closing combination of â€œBadâ€ and â€œ40.â€
In all September 20th was a U2 show that was able to serve both the casual and diehard fan with a mixture of greatest hits and obscure fan favorites. By playing some lesser-known songs and taking some risks, it is possible that the band was able to sway some of the more casual fans into the die-hard fans that know what album songs like "Dirty Day" or maybe even "One Tree Hill" come from. One can only hope.
September 19, 2005
By Carrie Alison, Chief Editor
Its been a relatively quick ride to the majors for The Bravery. Forming in 2003 and plotting its world takeover ever since, the New York City-based electro-rockers already have a big hit song under its fashionable belt with radio staple "An Honest Mistake," a song featured on "The OC," and had a chance to introduce itself to U2′s massive worldwide audience in Europe this summer on the Vertigo Tour.
Looking straight out of early â€˜80s punk and goth nightlife, The Bravery is named after what lead singer Sam Endicott attributes to, "The mindset I was in when I was writing the songs" and, "â€¦ with living in New York in this really weird time. People are constantly waiting for something bad to happen," as he told to LAUNCH.
The Bravery’s self-titled debut album, released in March 2005 on Island Def Jam, has been a fast seller and staple on alternative radio with "An Honest Mistake," "Fearless" and new single "Unconditional." The band will spend the winter as an opening act for Depeche Mode’s North American tour.
During a break in an exhaustive touring schedule that took The Bravery everywhere imaginable this summerâ€”jaunts to Europe and back, and then off to Asia and Australia in Augustâ€”Endicott took time out for Interference.com to discuss that cover of "An Cat Dubh," opening for U2 and what’s next.
What’s the story behind the cover of "An Cat Dubh"? Was U2′s early sound an influence on the band or is it simply a personal favorite?
When I was in junior high some cool older kids told me to check out early U2. At first, the first couple albums were too weird for me but over time I fell in love with them and I think they’re still my favorite in a way. "An Cat Dubh" has always been one of my favorites and it’s strange because it’s often overlooked, even a lot of U2 fans don’t really know it, so I thought it would be a good one to take and just try it in a completely different way.
Any other U2 songs you’d like to re-imagine or cover?
Nothing in the works at the moment, but you never know. Though it’s funny, we’re talking about doing a cover of Lou Reed’s "Satellite of Love," which it turns out U2 does a cover of as well on one of their singles from the ’90s.
What was it like opening up for U2? Any anecdotes you wish to share about this experience?
It was a pretty amazing experience. After we played Bono left us this really nice note, complementing us, and then at the end he wrote, "If you ever need anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask Edge, Larry or Adam." We thought that was funny.
"An Honest Mistake" and now "Fearless" are bonafied hits on radio and the video channels. Does it get any better? Where else does The Bravery to go from here? What’s next?
As far as we’re concerned we’re just getting started. We wanna see the world. We wanna get our music out to as many people as we can.
For more on The Bravery visit the official website.
Many thanks to Rachel for her help with this article.