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Old 08-16-2004, 08:53 AM   #1
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Review: A Selection of U2’s Most Emotional Live Moments*

By André
2004.08



U2 is world renowned for the power of its music and for the intense emotion of its live concerts. A U2 performance is more than just four men standing on a stage, it is an experience that takes each member of the audience on a journey of emotional highs and lows, touching the individual deep inside their own soul. However, while all concerts have a major emotional impact, there are some moments in U2’s concert history that stand out as particularly noteworthy.

When people think of an emotional live moment, they regularly think back to July 13, 1985, the day of Live Aid. Nineteen years on, most people are more than familiar with the events of that day, even those who are not U2 fans. Few other moments stand out in recent musical history quite like when Bono leapt from the stage during a stirring rendition of “Bad” and tenderly embraced a woman in the crowd. This touching act impacted the lives of people well beyond the concert venue and it was a perfect physical manifestation of the words and emotions of many on that day.

Due to its prominence, it is sometimes hard to look beyond Live Aid and see many of U2’s other particularly notable emotional live moments, that is not to say these moments were any less powerful or important, though. One of these moments was captured in all its fiery passion in the “Rattle and Hum” movie. Bono stated his concerns that “people will not understand the way we felt onstage,” but the sheer emotional power of the performance guarantees that any viewer is moved and affected. That day, Nov. 8, 1987, terrorists in Northern Ireland had bombed a Remembrance Day parade in Enniskillen, Ireland, killing 11 and wounding 63. When U2 took to the stage in Denver that night, they were furious. Bono solemnly introduced “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and the band launched into a performance that was both mournful and infuriated, conveying all the hurt and anger that the band felt. The defining moment of the song came after Edge’s solo, when Bono launched into a rant against terrorism and the revolution in Northern Ireland. His aggressive proclamation of “Fuck the revolution!” still rings in the ears and sticks in the minds of many today. If ever there was a passionate and emotional performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” that was it.

Six years later, a new and even more devastating conflict became the subject of U2 concerts. In horrifying and poignant moments, U2 would stop in the middle of various European ZooTV concerts to link via satellite to Bill Carter in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. There, he would report on the situation and allow locals to tell their stories of terror and tragedy to the audiences in packed stadiums. Some charged U2 with being excessively political, but what cannot be denied is the facts were unpleasant and the satellite linkups were most certainly emotionally powerful events. It would have been hard for audience members to remain emotionally unaffected by the shocking events in Bosnia.

U2’s interest in the Bosnian crisis did not end with the last satellite linkup. The band promised Sarajevo a concert, and while it was too dangerous to stage one during ZooTV, they delivered on their promise in 1997. Near the end of the second leg of the PopMart tour, U2 staged possibly the most triumphant concert of their career up to that point at Kosovo Stadium, Sarajevo on Sept. 23. The concert was more than just historically significant; it was a cathartic and affecting event, a release for the people of Sarajevo after years of strife and warfare, and a special moment for the band. U2’s performance was arguably their most emotional ever, and although Bono’s voice was in poor shape, he sang on, overflowing with passion and determined to connect with the people of the city. For two hours, real and genuine sentiment filled the stadium and the power of the performance cannot be understated. Every minute of the concert was an unforgettable and highly powerful experience, and it is a prime candidate for the most powerfully emotional live event of U2’s entire career.

On the same tour, another one of the most notable touching moments occurred. Two tour legs and approximately four months later, U2 were playing their first concerts in South America, and closed their shows with highly charged performances of “Mothers Of The Disappeared.” At some concerts, these performances were made all the more powerful when the mothers who gave the song its name were brought onstage, holding signs and pictures of their missing children. This sombre and moving end to the concerts made the South American PopMart concerts unique and notable in U2’s live history.

Over four years later, during the Elevation tour, another U2 concert became intensely emotional, but for an entirely different reason. The day was Aug. 21, 2001, and at 4 am that morning, Bono had been with his father, Bob Hewson, in Dublin when he passed away. Yet that night, Bono took to the stage at Earl’s Court in London in a move of amazing strength and commitment and performed what was probably the most poignant show of his career. From the beginning, Bono threw himself into the songs, seeking comfort, catharsis and hope. “Kite” took on a new life, containing more personal connections for Bono than ever before, “Gone” reached levels it had never reached before, and Bono became visibly shaken during “Bad” and feelings simply spilled over and flowed wildly. The show will remain unparalleled in the history of U2 as the most personal ever played.

The show on Aug. 21 and those following were a form of healing for Bono, but after Sept. 11, U2’s shows became healing for many. Some criticised U2 for touring after the acts of terror on Sept. 11 were committed, but the emotion and healing power of the shows were enough to conclusively silence the critics. A special feeling permeated the shows of the third leg of the Elevation tour, both bringing tears and wiping them away in a series of 30 nights that meant many things to many people. Individual U2 shows have their own special emotion and force, but no whole leg of a tour has been filled with such feelings as this one was. As many reports will attest, at many shows there were no dry eyes left in the arena. It was a surreal and remarkable emotional experience.

It is a certainty there are more noteworthy moments to come. U2 have never ‘gone through the motions,’ but play each concert with sincere passion and heart, establishing the benchmark for all other bands and artists. From the sombre moments to the angry, the band challenge and change emotions, using their music as a means of causing people to feel so much more. The moments outlined above are just a testament to the fact that no other band has the raw and tidal power of U2.
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Old 08-16-2004, 12:34 PM   #2
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Excellent article, André!
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Old 08-16-2004, 02:56 PM   #3
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I agree with soulnation2002, Andre -

So many people are always trying to figure out exactly why they like U2. They talk about Edge's beautiful guitar playing, Larry's nearly perfect drumming, Adam's sensual bass playing, Bono's brilliant lyrics, etc.

But I think that what many of us really respond to about U2 is the HEARTFELT EMOTION that they put into their music and their performances.
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Old 08-16-2004, 03:02 PM   #4
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Good article.

BTW, does anyone know where mp3s of their post-Sept.11 Madison Square Garden performance can be found?
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Old 08-16-2004, 03:08 PM   #5
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U2 gives their ALL to their music and to us - and that is something rare to find in musicians (or really anyone) nowadays.

When Bono stands before us and wails his Heart out, it stirs something VERY DEEP AND VERY GENUINE in our own hearts.

We feel CONNECTED to him, and to U2.

When Bono stands in the middle of an audiences of tens of thousands of appreciative people and trusts them enough to crowd-surf or when he is willing to reveal the depths of his Soul in front of complete strangers, we are amazed at his willingness to share with us.

So, I think that it is this aspect of U2 that we really respond to, as much as their BRILLIANT music.

And I really like your examples and your closing paragraph, Andre. Thanks for talking about the HEALING POWER OF A U2 CONCERT - I have believed that for over twenty years.

THE GOAL IS SOUL....
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Old 08-16-2004, 04:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheFirstBigW
Good article.

BTW, does anyone know where mp3s of their post-Sept.11 Madison Square Garden performance can be found?
Try our MP3 Forum, maybe someone in there can point you in the right direction...

http://forum.interference.com/forumd...192&daysprune=
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Old 08-16-2004, 08:52 PM   #7
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actually i'm not sure if its on the site. but theres a ton of post 9-11
concerts on relivetheconcert.com not to mention a lot of other shows.
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:12 PM   #8
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Wunderbar article!
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Old 08-17-2004, 10:36 AM   #9
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Excellant job! U2 has never been afraid to show their real emotions and that is what I feel makes them truly great. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job highlighting some of those heartfelt moments.
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:06 PM   #10
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dsmith2904 and bonojr62:

Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-18-2004, 02:54 AM   #11
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Glad you guys enjoyed the article!
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 08-18-2004, 03:26 AM   #12
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great article André!
I sure know what you're talking about as I was lucky to attend one of those concerts you've mentioned in the article.

p.s. just a small correction, it's Kosevo stadium in Sarajevo, not KosOvo
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:17 PM   #13
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Re: Review: A Selection of U2’s Most Emotional Live Moments*

Great article. In 2001 after the events of 9-11 U2 provided a great amount of strength and healing for many. I was at those concerts, and seeing them after losing people in those attacks, they provided an emotional release that no one came to expect. 23000 people all in tears as the list of those now remembered scrolled down a screen.
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Old 08-20-2004, 06:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by vivaSA
great article André!
I sure know what you're talking about as I was lucky to attend one of those concerts you've mentioned in the article.

p.s. just a small correction, it's Kosevo stadium in Sarajevo, not KosOvo
Thank you! And I thought it was Kosevo, but in my first article (on Infamous Moments), it was corrected to Kosovo, so I used that spelling this time ...
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 08-26-2004, 12:32 PM   #15
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Thanks Andre, great article.

I'd also add (for those of us in the US at least), U2's performance at the SuperBowl in Feb 02 which touched millions of people, some of whom were probably not even fans.

My friend John was moved to tears (and he's not even much of a fan) but he had to admit that it was one of the most amazing performances he'd ever seen!
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