Review: U2 at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Nov. 16, 2005 * - U2 Feedback

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Old 11-18-2005, 10:03 PM   #1
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Review: U2 at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Nov. 16, 2005 *

By Kimberly "hippy" Egolf

In science class we learn that energy is produced through a complicated series of processes somehow involving electrons and water and other such elements. U2 has found a simpler way to create energy—stage a rock show.

I must admit that, by Wednesday, my power pack was drained. Adrenaline had been pumping through my bloodstream at high speed since Sunday morning in anticipation of the week's worth of shows I would be attending. I couldn't sleep thinking about the incredible shows I had already experienced and the ones that were to come. By the time I arrived in Tampa at 7 Wednesday morning, I was fairly exhausted.

I hauled my general admission line supplies from the car to the queue, was branded No. 41 and parked myself on my designated slab of pavement for the day. I met many wonderful people in the line (shout outs to Sherry, Steve, John 51, Stephanie, John 48, Genie and Hal) and was able to share some very special moments with them. I mentioned in my Miami review that U2 is all about community, nowhere else can you find better evidence of that community than in a GA line. Though I was there by myself, I didn't feel alone and that made all the difference for me.

By a magical stroke of luck, my GA buddy Hal scanned us into the ellipse. We quickly ran to The Edge's side on the front rail and parked ourselves for the evening. Though I had been flagging in energy level, the ellipse scan put me on a high that lasted the entire evening. I'm sure I drove everyone around me crazy as I couldn't stand still and I couldn't stop talking. This was my one shot at GA for this week and I had just gotten the perfect place with a little help from my friends.

Institute, the opening band fronted by Gavin Rossdale, formerly of the band Bush, was a little more interesting from this vantage point. And it was a real treat to see Dallas Schoo, Edge's guitar wrangler and general jack-of-all-trades, riffing on Edge's guitars.

But absolutely nothing compares to the moment when U2 took the stage. Realizing that your heroes—these four men who have become such an invaluable part of your life—are standing directly in front of you is an awesome thing. And awe was the overwhelming feeling for most of the evening.

As The Edge's chiming guitar intro to "City of Blinding Lights" brought the audience to a fever pitch and the multicolored confetti shimmered down on us, I pumped my fists in the air in sheer joy. The "Vertigo"/"Elevation" duo was a surreal experience from the floor. I don't think I stopped jumping through either song.

Riding high off this smashing introduction, I didn't pause to consider what was coming next. I'd already seen the band switch from an "Achtung Baby" set to a "Boy" set between the Miami concerts and was interested to see what happened that night. After a short, teasing pause to switch guitars, Edge launched into "Mysterious Ways." Though Edge didn't shuffle, we were treated to a Bono dance of sorts. Unable to resist the temptation, Bono began to swivel his hips in belly-dancer fashion. This seductive and dangerous song and dance quickly turned into a different kind of seduction as "Mysterious Ways" bled into "Until the End of the World." The seduction of Judas into betrayal of Jesus is a subject that U2 has admittedly been fascinated with, and is reportedly the subject of this song. It's a difficult question and one that has defined much of modern thought. Perhaps this is why "Until the End of the World" is so fascinating—it's hard to tell what headspace Bono is in when he sings this song and it seems to morph into something new every time it is performed.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" uplifted our spirits and set the perfect tone for the next song. "Beautiful Day," as always, was a moment to remember. Perhaps the most wonderful part is after the bridge when Bono sings, "After the flood all the colors came out." As the notes from Edge's guitar vibrated in the air, the arena was bathed in light of all colors, providing not only an incredible light effect but also providing a symbol of the many different types of people present in the arena that night and, indeed, every night of the tour.

"Miracle Drug" was gone again in Tampa, replaced by the always beautiful "Original of the Species." During this song, Bono brought a young girl on stage and dedicated the song to her. It was a beautiful and moving gesture, like a father talking to his daughter about living life. "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," by contrast, was a plaintive son speaking to his father. Bono introduced the song by talking about his own father, and how he would always tell Bono to "take off the fucking sunglasses." Bono did as he was asked and removed the glasses as he began the song. But by the end of the song, he had them back on again in rebellion.

"Love and Peace or Else," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky" knocked us over with their power. I am continually impressed by the decision to group these heavy songs together. U2 does not let us off the hook for a moment. While obviously not the same as the Sarajevo broadcasts on the ZooTV tour, these songs do bring us a similar dose of reality in the midst of a rock show. Just as we are getting into the band playing the songs we all love, they come along and show us a glimpse of the world outside. And Bono places the responsibility for that world squarely on the audience, calling out, "This is your song now" during "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

"Miss Sarajevo" also reminded us, in a slightly different and more poignant way, of the world outside. Bono introduced the song by explaining how they met a girl in Sarajevo who had decided to stage a beauty pageant in the midst of the siege as a kind of surrealist statement about the indomitable spirit of the Sarajevans. Bono pointed to Sarajevo as the ultimate example of a modern city where Muslim, Jew and Christian coexisted and that city was destroyed while the world watched it all on television.

After this dose of reality, "Pride," "Where the Streets Have no Name," and "One" came along to remind us of the dream of unity, peace, and coexistence for the world. These songs brought the main set to a close.

As the crowd chanted and cheered for the band to return, Edge quietly assumed the stage, slipped his guitar over his head, and began to make his way to the tip of the ellipse while strumming the opening chords of "The First Time." I had not yet heard this in concert and was stunned by the vulnerability of Bono's voice and the simplicity of the song performed acoustically. "Stuck in a Moment" was dedicated again to Michael Hutchence and Bono declared, "We still miss him." "With or Without You" saw another young woman pulled onto the stage to dance with Bono as he sang. This ended the second set of the night.

"All Because of You" jetted the energy level in the arena back up to maximum. Edge wailed away on the guitar, Larry Mullen pounded on the drums, and Adam Clayton strutted around with his bass, while Bono almost took flight. During "Yahweh" Bono brought a young boy on stage who stood next to Larry during the remainder of the song. The young boy, Joey, remained there as "40" started. As the audience chanted "How long to sing this song?" Bono brought Joey up to the front of the stage to help him shine the spotlight around the arena. After whispering instructions to the young boy, Bono proceeded to leave the stage. Joey shined the light directly on Bono, who flashed a brilliant smile and a peace sign before disappearing down the stairs. Adam was the next to leave the stage. As Edge and Larry continued the pulsing beat of the song, the crowd sustained the "How long to sing this song?" chant. Joey quietly walked over to Bono's microphone stand and placed the still-bright spotlight on the floor facing the audience, passing the torch literally to us to continue the song and the sentiment as the show ended.

It's an odd thing about U2 shows, though almost drained of energy going into the show, I somehow managed to find what I needed and more. So I have a proposal, forget about nuclear energy, solar energy, energy from fossil fuels. We already have an alternate source of completely renewable energy—U2.
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