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Old 11-17-2001, 03:23 PM   #1
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Old 11-17-2001, 03:44 PM   #2
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Just found this article in the Contra Costa Times! Another great review~
Irish rock band U2 embraces American spirit in concert

TONY HICKS: MUSIC CRITIC
commentary

By Tony Hicks
CONTRA COSTA TIMES


Bono was at the apex of the V-shaped stage, extending halfway through the crowd at the Oakland Arena on
Thursday night during the chunky guitar breakdown of an otherwise subdued "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

A man in the audience waved a large American flag, offering it to the U2 singer. Bono bent over as gently as when he
plucked a little girl out of the crowd moments earlier, and paraded around the stage with her atop his shoulders.

He gathered in the flag and held it to his chest, closing his eyes and dipping his head into a soft embrace. Bono
wordlessly cradled the flag for 30 seconds, as sweetly as if it were a newborn baby. An arena full of 20,000 people,
the band, the camera flashes -- and all the music just faded away.

That seemingly soundless and fragile moment conveyed more hope than any song, speech or flag flown since Sept.
11. Just a man -- an Irishman, no less -- showing his love of America in the simplest way possible. Bono then
carefully handed the flag back to the owner, and seemed to thank him for sharing.

The beauty of Bono's gesture was that everyone knew something was coming. The most politically outspoken and
charitable musician since John Lennon had to do something inspired, though even that paled in comparison to the
emotionally-wrenching show-ender "One" that later reduced grown men to tears.

The music itself was important, though certainly at times a backdrop. U2 inspires people not only with beautiful,
soaring and sometimes irrepressibly fun songs, but unselfish motives as well. They're certainly rock stars, but it's
how they take on that role that matters. It's never mattered more than now. A band that has crusaded for peace,
hope and charity for two decades could do nothing less than inspire in troubling times.

It's exactly why newspapers roll back policies on not writing about a band twice on the same tour. It's exactly why,
on any given night, U2 is the most important band on the planet.

The world has changed since early last spring, when the band first came to the Bay Area touring behind its album
"All That You Can't Leave Behind." You could nearly mail in a U2 concert review: "opened with 'Elevation' ... honored
Martin Luther King ... played a great 'Where the Streets Have No Name,'" etc.

That's not to say they aren't worth reviewing. But Thursday was different. More than two months after Sept. 11,
there's a heightened danger of artists becoming a parody of the "caring entertainer" role. Just about anything that can
be said about the terrorists attacks already has been -- from people whose only expertise is that they get paid to
make music.

Thursday wasn't a political rally or a benefit show; it was still a rock concert. But the nonpolitical gestures of
remembrance and messages of peace and hope will be the memories people take away from the experience.

The show's first half was actually bereft of any mention of Sept. 11 -- the band simply walked on and began playing
under the house lights. Bono and guitarist The Edge frequently ran out onto the runway, sometimes stalking each
other and nearly getting into a brotherly wrestling match.

But something genuine began building after the flag-hugging moment that would peak with a version of "One" that
had people crying. Bono said the band felt "proud and humbled" to be in America in the aftermath of the attacks, and
later had words for those who "re-create God in their own image ... people who come from good homes."

But that was the extent of the preaching, allowing songs like "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "Pride (In the
Name of Love)," and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (which Bono sang with No Doubt's Gwen Stefani), stand on
their own potency -- as did projected shadows of skyscrapers around the stage.

The last song was as powerful of a remembrance of Sept. 11 victims as I've seen. Bono spoke of being in New York
recently and how dismayed people were at seeing their loved ones reduced to fatality statistics on the nightly news.
"The people they lost weren't statistics, they were people," he said, strumming the opening chords to "One." With
that, a video screen behind the stage emerged and the names of the victims began rolling.

It was a simple yet overwhelming tribute. First the names of the airplane passengers went by, followed by the New
York policemen. Then came the New York firemen -- that's when the enormity of it all hit home. Name after name
after name, up there in big personal letters -- all people with families and lives they left behind, while Bono sang of
"carrying each other."

The moment was without judgment, anger and rhetoric, and gave the most jaded and detached adults something
about which to both grieve and feel hopeful. They couldn't have spread a better message in a better way.
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Old 11-17-2001, 03:52 PM   #3
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One more great review!

The Arts & Entertainment Section of The Daily Californian

U2, Older But Wiser


By KIM JOHNSON

Friday, November 16, 2001

You have to admire Gwen Stefani. She's such a capable frontman for No
Doubt, gamely writhing in her trademark Skate-Rat Barbie wardrobe, playing
the room as if it were a grungy little club, as if there weren't 15,000 pairs of
eyes on her. As if they were there to watch No Doubt. Stefani and
company, opening for U2 on the current leg of their American tour, play loud
and fast and with a healthy measure of flippancy, tearing through tunes like
"Just a Girl" with plenty of spunk. But, it must be said, when U2 hit the
stage, intentionally or not, they're schooling the young-'uns.

During the first of two sold out shows at the Oakland Arena on Thursday
night, U2 reasserted themselves as rock and roll contenders, and proved
that, in their third decade, they remain a Band That Matters.

U2's performance on Thursday night opened with "Elevation," an engine of a
song in studio that became hyperpowered under the Adam Clayton's
pumping bass. Making full use of their stage set, singer Bono ranged around
the massive heart-shaped walkways extending 100 feet out into the
audience, moving with that odd, arrhythmical, ape-like lurch he's developed.
(Twenty-four years in the business and still no rhythm?) His posturing began
to fade with the start of "Beautiful Day," a truly transcendent piece from
their current release All That You Can't Leave Behind, and that just opened
up the floodgates of emotion.

Bono's great strength as U2's vanguard is the rapport he develops with an
audience. Thursday night found him going beyond the handshakes and
high-fives as he crowd-walked and then plucked a little girl of five or six
from the fans to ride on his shoulders as he sang "New Year's Day" from
1985's War.

The set found the band reaching farther back into their catalogue, playing
"Out of Control," which delighted the rapt crowdwho were, surprisingly,
mostly middle-aged. Memo to the recording industry: your target
demographic can't afford current concert tickets.

Though the band revisited songs from early recordings, the bulk of the
performance was drawn from All That You Can't Leave Behind. Bono, in
another moment erasing the line between performer and crowd, introduced
"Kite" as a song he'd written for his son. Tearing up as he revealed that his
father had recently passed away, the singer admitted that he considered
the song to be a parting gift from father to son.

In what has come to be standard procedure during U2 shows, The Edge and
Bono wandered out to the front of the stage extensions to perform a couple
of songs acoustically, without the inexorable bashing of workhorse drummer
Larry Mullen Jr. The Edge, who can somehow get more sound out of a guitar
than seems possible, strummed "Wild Honey" into a manifesto of sorts, his
delicate harmony filling in the high notes for Bono, who wryly disclosed that
his habit is affecting his job: "You may have notice that there's something
missing from the top of my voice," he joked. "It's a pack of Marlboro Lights."

As Mullen and Clayton rejoined their bandmates, the chiming opening to
"Bad" jumpstarted the crowd into screams, but it was the following number
that brought the house down. The elegant opening chords to "Where the
Streets Have No Name" manage to sound solemn and radiant even after
countless listens, and as Mullen's drums began to race and the lights came
up on 30,000 upraised hands, it was, in a word, thrilling.

It wouldn't be a U2 concert without a dose of political commentary. The
events of the last two months have provided plenty of material. Bono
introduced "Please" as a song written against religious fundamentalists, who
"remake God in their own image: small, pathetic." His gestures of patriotic
solidarity drew cheers from the throng. Applause erupted when, in the
middle of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," he substituted for his usual political rant
a long silence during which he cradled an American flag offered up by an
audience member. The band reworked lyrics of "New York" to acknowledge
the tragedy. But the most stirring, and genuine, moment of the evening
came with the second encore. Over the strains of "One," as Bono sang
pointedly, "We're one, but we're not the same/ We've got to carry each
other, carry each other," the names of the dead from Sept. 11 scrolled up a
large screen and across the audience. "One" was absolutely transformed
from a breakup song to an anthem of peace and unity, and despite the
cavernous Arena and it's less than intimate sound system, the sentiment
felt true.
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Old 11-18-2001, 12:03 AM   #4
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Thanks, U2SJ. I looked in the Chronicle and Tribune and didnt' find anything!
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Old 11-18-2001, 02:47 AM   #5
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Excellent review from SJ Mercury of Oakland night #1!

I just got the paper! What a wonderful review of Oakland Thursday night! There is a pic of the little girl that went up, and my scanner is not darn working, but I'll try to post it asap!

U2's music of redemption hits home

BY BRAD KAVA
Mercury News

The songs were the same as they've been on this
lengthy world tour, but on U2's second swing
through the Bay Area Thursday night, Bono's
political and spiritual lyrics took on a new focus as
seen through the lens of Sept. 11.

This quartet from war-torn Ireland gave a stunning
two-hour lesson in pain, suffering, violence and
healing. It was arena rock raised to a level of art that
was so stark, and so moving, that even the most
devoted concertgoer may see something this
powerful only once or twice in a lifetime.

There aren't many rock shows that leave an audience
in tears. In fact, most rock bands don't tread
anywhere near this territory.

But there were few dry eyes in the house when,
toward the end of this Oakland Arena show, the
band played its paean to breaking up and underlying
love, ``One,'' while the names of some of the victims
of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- firefighters, police
officers, jet crews and passengers -- scrolled on
giant screens behind them.

``Don't do this, don't do this,'' one man yelled from
the audience as the names began. A while later,
while the band sang its uplifting ``Walk On,'' he was
seen hugging his friends, a raw nerve struck with no
novocaine.

Maybe it was manipulative, but it worked in the
context of a band whose work has not only
documented the wars in Ireland (``Sunday Bloody
Sunday'') and political strife around the world
(``Bullet the Blue Sky'') but also has memorialized
Martin Luther King Jr. (``Pride (In the Name of
Love)'').

All through the night, lyrics took new meanings, as if, with innocence lost,
Americans shared a new bond with the tragedies recounted by this Irish
poet.

``I can't believe the news today. I can't close my eyes and make it go
away. How long, how long must we sing this song?'' Bon sang in
``Sunday Bloody Sunday,'' a tale of streets strewed with bodies, like a
battle-weary update of Bob Dylan's ``Blowin' in the Wind.''

Wrapped in the flag

He was draped in an American flag, holding it like a shawl he'd been crying
into. And then, he stood tall, singing ``Wipe those tears away'' over and
over.

It was a theme repeated through the night: pain, healing, redemption.

In the anthem ``Bad'': The desperation of ``True colors fly in blue and
black, bruised silken sky and burning flag'' led to an emotional uplifting:
``I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake, I'm not dreaming.''

Even the song ``New York,'' a throwaway on the band's 2000 album ``All
That You Can't Leave Behind,'' became suddenly poignant, an almost
prophetic conjuring.

On a musical level, the band's set included its first hit, ``Out of Control'' and
its last, ``Beautiful Day.'' From the start, it was a powerful experience, as
the four members sauntered out in bright white light, like some rookie club
band, and played ``Elevation'' that way.

Raising the bar

Most other arena performers end their shows, and their illusions, in the
stark white light. U2 (Bono, guitarist David ``The Edge'' Evans, drummer
Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton) started with the bar at its
highest level and took it up from there.

Also, in contrast to other bands, U2 made the best seats in the house the
cheapest ones. Fans could stand up front in and around a heart-shaped
walkway for a $47 general-admission ticket, while seats farther away went
for $136.

Bono's voice was so rough that he apologized for the packs of cigarettes
he'd smoked. Several time he backed off from the high notes and let the
audience sing the lines. But it really didn't detract from the show.

If there was one complaint, it was that the band often uses taped effects to
flesh out the sound of the multilayered radio hits. You hear a catchy riff, but
no one is playing it live. But that was kept to a minimum.

One other thing didn't work: When they brought on No Doubt singer Gwen
Stefani for a cover of Marvin Gaye's ``What's Going On,'' the song went
from soulful to blanched. This squeaky-voiced Barbie wannabe covering a
soul master seemed laughable.

But the rest of the night, Bono proved that like Mick Jagger, he's one of
rock's most flamboyant front men. But there is something more real in his
actions.

At one point he lay down on the runway and sang to the people in the pit.
Later, he grabbed a young girl in a cowboy hat and a pink skirt, put her on
his shoulders and ran a lap around the heart. He stopped and both looked
at themselves on the overhead video screens.

``How proud and humbled we are to be on tour at this time in the United
States,'' he said later.

A rocker who wears his politics on his sleeve, he encouraged the audience
to check out a Debt Relief organization traveling with the band. His
between-songs patter included talk of ending poverty in Africa to prevent
the hopelessness that encourages terrorism.

He criticized small-minded religious people ``who make God in their own
image'' and said he hoped that the tragedy would make the world more
inclusive.

Saluting the crowd

And he also saluted Bay Area parents for bringing children and babies to
the show, something he said he hasn't seen anywhere else in the world.

``Coming from Ireland, we were always a little nervous of flags,'' Bono said
at one point, after revealing the stars and stripes in the lining of his coat.
``I've learned to love this flag. I'm talking about the flag itself. The flag's
been very good to me.''

It may have been strange to see someone who has been so critical of
governments and institutions draped in those color, but it seemed genuine,
as if the times and the singer were changing.
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Old 11-18-2001, 04:50 AM   #6
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some good stuff

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