ZooTV: Live From Sydney 20th Anniversary Thread

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ONE love, blood, life
Sep 7, 2004
Kettering, Ohio
Saturday, November 27th, 1993.

The VHS wouldn't be released for another six months, but on this evening, twenty years ago next week, U2 took the stage at Sydney Football Stadium - then known as Aussie Stadium - in Sydney, Australia, to perform show #153 of #157 of their ZooTV tour, broadcast worldwide live on pay-per-view and made available commercially twice - the aforementioned VHS release, and the 2006 DVD release - as Zoo TV: Live From Sydney. This show would become one of U2's most legendary moments, among a tour of legendary moments.


Coming into this fifth-to-last show of a tour that had spanned nearly two years, the band was stressed. Those two years had been a whirlwind, during which the band had worked nearly nonstop, using its one long break to write and record the Zooropa album, and by this point, they were tired, and ready for the tour to end. But much additional stress had come upon them starting the night before, going into show #152, the sixth-to-last show, at the same venue. According to U2 At The End Of The World(I will be quoting from it liberally in this post as there are few better sources for information about this tour):

Bono and Edge are getting antsy that some of the concert routines have been repeated so long they are turning into pantomine.

They were also anxious about the upcoming broadcast:

And wrapping all these other aggravations into a big, pulsating package of paranoia is the ulcer-inducing fact that tomorrow night's concert is to be broadcast live around the world as a pay-TV special, and tonight's show is the television crew's only shot at a rehearsal and run-through. Aside from needing it to pay the bills, the pay-per-view broadcast is U2's only real shot at promoting the songs from Zooropa, the new album that was almost ignored during the summer European tour. They have worked about half of the Zooropa songs into the show, but they don't sit as comfortably as the songs they replaced. At this moment no one would be too surprised if any or all of the four members of U2 disappeared into the bush and was never seen again.

And then, to make matters worse, Adam had fallen off the wagon the night before and was so massively hungover that he couldn't go on - the one and only time in U2's 35-year touring history that any band member has missed a show - and his roadie, Stuart Morgan, had to be drafted to play the gig "on 15 minutes' notice", because the show couldn't be cancelled, as, like the quote above says, it was the only chance for the band and the televisoin crew to rehearse for the next night's shoot.

The gig goes off well enough, though there are some technical difficulties. To quote U2ATEOTW:

As U2 plays, Edge cues Stuart in to every impending section change. Otherwise the understudy keeps his eyes locked with Larry's, who keeps the tempo together while Bono holds the attention of the audience. Even that is not easy tonight. During 'New Year's Day', Bono's hand microphone dies, leaving Edge howling the background aiii-yas over and over while Bono signals the roadies frantically with an outstretched arm. The roadies, misunderstanding the signal, run out and put a cup of water in Bono's hand. Finally his manic gesturing communicates and he is given a second mike - which he sings into and which turns out to also be dead. At this point any of our less brilliant rock stars might start weeping, stalk into the wings to fire people, or jump into the audience to beat someone up. Not Bono. He walks to the front lip of the stage, throws down the broken microphone, and starts howling out the words unamplified. Not that anyone in the stadium can hear him - he almost surely cannot hear himself over the gigantic amplification of the band - but the dramatic gesture creates a surge of excitement in the audience, who sing the missing words themselves while Bono stands there, outstretched and glorious.

After the gig, the band would stay up all night going over the recorded video from that night, frame by frame, to plan the following night's broadcast.

Which brings us to the gig in question. This is a portrait of a band weary and tired from a long tour, anxious about the broadcast, and perhaps tense about their now-returned bassist's missed gig, nearly burnt out, and yet still at the top of their game.






A lot of people say that ZooTV was U2 at the very peak of their powers, at their artistic and creative zenith, and this show and official release make a strong argument for that being the case.

Given the length of the tour, the differences between the indoor shows and the outdoors shows, the switch from Mirrorball Man to Mr. Macphisto on the non-American legs, and the differences in the setlist that occurred on account of rotating some of the classics in later on and incorporating the Zooropa material when that album was released, it is often accurately said that the earliest shows of the tour and the latest shows of the tour were almost like two different tours, and thus, we should've gotten one of the earlier, pre-Zooropa, indoor shows(or an Outside Broadcast show) on VHS/DVD as well, and that if only one show was going to be released, it should've been more representative of the majority of the tour. While I agree that it would be awesome to have an official release of a pre-Zooropa show(indoor or Outside Broadcast), I am glad that the Sydney show is the one we got, because of the Zooropa songs.

Numb was played 33 times ever, including the VMA performance. Stay(Faraway, So Close) still appears in the set to this day, but I believe its 23 ZooTV performances were the only ones that were full-band - even though it was still a part of the acoustic set - whereas on Elevation and 360, B&E performed it alone. And Lemon, Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car, and Dirty Day were each performed 10 times ever - the final ten ZooTV shows, the Zoomerang shows, including Sydney. Aside from Stay, these were the only airings these songs ever got, and may well be the only airings they ever get(though never say never, I think they may have sounchecked Daddy during the Vertigo tour), and to have performances of these songs in official, pristine quality, is an absolute treasure imo.

Now, there's a trade-off, of course. Prior to those last ten shows, full-band Desire and Ultraviolet(Light My Way) had been in the encore for most every show, and Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses had been a regular for the first two legs of the show, and while a performance of Desire was included as a bonus on the Sydney DVD, we still have no official video performances of Horses or Ultraviolet from ZooTV(although decent-quality unofficial video does exist - the whole Stockholm show is available via torrent and on youtube). Still, it's arguably worth it to have those performances of the Zooropa songs in official quality. With those songs in the setlist, this show becomes a great summation of the whole era - the tour and both albums.

In addition the Zooropa songs, this show also contains, official-quality recordings of those legendary ZooTV performances of Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, and Where The Streets Have No Name, Pride with the MLK speech in the middle of it, a video-duet of Satellite Of Love that has become even more poignant with Lou Reed's recent passing, and performances of two Achtung songs that haven't been performed since the end of ZooTV: a beloved and revered rendition of Love Is Blindness with an absolutely heart-wrenching guitar solo(I don't count the one-minute-long version from 2006), and a stellar version of Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World, which, while not included on the VHS or DVD because of the apparently under-aged girl Bono drank with during the song, was part of the original broadcast, right between Numb and Angel Of Harlem, and can be found easily on youtube. I could go on and on. When I was first getting into U2 in 1998 and 1999, this was one of the things that turned me into a full-fledged die-hard. I remember checking the VHS out from a video store(remember those?) and watching it in amazement. It's just a priceless documentation of an incredible tour, and fully deserving of the 1995 Grammy for Best Music Video, Long Form that it won.

So let's discuss, appreciate, and commemorate Zoo TV: Live From Sydney and it's 20th anniversary. I leave you with Mr. Macphisto's farewell speech:

"Look what you've done to me..... you've made me very famous, and I thank you. I know you like your pop stars to be exciting, so I bought these (gestures to his shoes). Now, my time among you is almost at an end; the glory of Zoo TV must ascend and take its place with all the other satellites. Don't fear, for I will be watching you. I leave behind video cameras for each of you. So many listening tonight, I have a list...

People of America, I gave you Bill Clinton—I put him on CNN, NBC, C-SPAN. Too tall to be a despot, but watch him closely. People of Asia, your time is coming—without your tiny transistors, none of this [gestures to Zoo TV stage set] would be possible. People of Europe—when I came among you, you were squabbling like children. Now you're all hooked up to one cable, as close together as stations on a dial. People of the former Soviet Union—I gave you capitalism, so now you can all dream of being as wealthy and glamorous as me. People of Sarajevo, count your blessings... There are people all over the world who have food, heat and security, but they're not on TV like you are. Frank Sinatra, I give you the MTV demographic; Salman Rushdie, I give you decibels. Goodbye "Squidgy," I hope they give you Wales; goodbye Michael ... Goodbye all you neo-nazis, I hope they give you Auschwitz."

and the phone call:

"Around about this time, I often make a telephone call. Some, some...sometimes to the President of the United States. But not, not, not tonight. Tonight I'm, I'm going to call a taxi to take me home. 'Cause I am tired.

Thank you for calling Taxi Services


Can you tell me your name and place please

My name is Mr. MacPhisto
I'm looking for a taxi to take me from sydney from -

Oh, I'm so sorry sir, what is your name? Hello?

My name is Mr. Macphisto

What is this, a joke?

Hello, what is your name

Show me the way to go home
I'm tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it's gone right to my head"

and a couple more images:


Thanks for this-
This DVD is my own personal Prozac. It's just amazing from beginning to end – not a low point throughout. The stretch of Bullet -> RTSS -> Streets is probably the most sublime section of concert footage ever recorded on video. And I can't imagine this show without Dirty Day- here's hoping that song makes a comeback in the future. It deserves it.
Great work on that post namkcuR. I wish I had been a fan at that time and been able to see a ZooTV show. My first concert experience with U2 was Elevation and it was really cool to see a stripped down show, but I can't imagine how different it was in 91-93 to see a U2 show compared to anybody else. Talk about multi-dimensional
ZooTV Sydney is one of the greatest things of any variety produced by anyone ever.
What an amazing DVD, and that tour definitely showed U2 at the top of their game. Would have loved to seen any of the 157 shows on that tour. Bullet The Blue Sky > Running To Stand Still > Where The Streets Have No Name gives me goosebumps every single time I watch Live from Sydney. :drool:
My license plate is ZOO TV. I was lucky enough to see 5 shows that tour (2 indoor LA shows, 2 Dodger Stadium, and Anaheim). U2 at their peak.
I remember watching this show when it aired on PPV. My friend and I were at his house and we made sure to tape it. We would watch it several times afterward. Can't believe 20 years have passed already.
Great post NamckuR. One of the great moments in music history.

I feel privileged to have attended ZooTV Adelaide, the so called dress rehearsal for the Sydney recording.
To original poster namkcuR: Kudos on writing such a lengthy celebratory post for what is arguably one of the greatest concert tours by any band ever! :applaud:

I became a U2 fan after watching the videos from Achtung Baby on MTV and getting interested in the band. So ZooTV was very much happening at the time. But I was still living under my parents' roof and too young to go to a show by myself. So I only got to watch Zoo Sydney (first on a burned dvd from a friend and then on my own purchased one) much later in the early part of the 2000s.

My favourite aspects about this tour are:

1. The amazing sound and light show that included lit-up Trabants suspended from the rafters.

2. The many disguises and interesting alter egos of Bono on stage.

3. The amazing performances and song segues like Running To Stand Still-Where The Streets Have No Name and magical grand finale of Love Is Blindness-Can't Help Falling In Love.

4. The incredible Intro that kicked things off!

Btw, I absolutely adore that Tryin To Throw Your Arms performance from Yankee Stadium that is included on the dvd as an extra. :drool:

Every time I re-watch this dvd I wish I had already been in my 20s during the early 90s. Only, that would make me what... 40 something now. :/ lol.
Great review/summary.

Don't forget the DVD Easter Eggs.

Behind the Scenes:
Insert the second disc of the DVD set in your player and on the Main Menu highlight the entry 'Extras.' Now press the 'Right' arrow key on your remote control and then press 'Down.' The Zoo TV logo at the top of the screen will now be highlighted and if you press the 'Enter' key now you will see a screen with 'Abort' written on it. Using your remote control enter the numbers 2, 7, 1, 1 and you will see unlock a clip where you can see the setup, concert and tear-down of the Zoo TV stage using time-lapse photography, set to the song 'Some days are better than others.'

Bonus Documentary:
Enter the 'Documentaries' section on the disc and select 'Play All.' To save some time fast-forward through the footage and when you get back to the menu screen, highlight the 'Subtitles' menu entry. Now press the 'Down' key on your remote control followed by the 'Left' key to highlight an O in the center of the screen. Press 'Enter' now and you will be treated to a 25-minute documentary called 'Interference', which includes 'The History Mix.'

Bonus Feature:
Enter the 'Extras' section on the DVD and highlight the menu entry 'DVD credits.' Press the 'Down' key on your remote control, followed by the 'Right' key and another O appears in the center of the screen. Press the 'Enter' key now on your remote and it will take you to another screen with 'Abort' written on it. This time enter the numbers 1, 9, 9, 3 and you will get to see a 1-minute long clip of atomic-bomb themed warning drills
This tour/show was definitely a milestone in the history of (rock 'n roll) music. Just fantastic!
I remember watching the 'Live From Sydney' show on VHS in 1996 or 1997, with a few friends. At the time, we all thought U2 were a bit washed-up, but we all admitted that we enjoyed the video and that it was very impressive (of course, it was already a few years old).

In retrospect, I still love the sounds they made in this period, even if I prefer the earlier 1992 shows to the 1993-1994 mega-shows with the full-on make-up/lights/MacPhisto treatment. I dunno, stadium rock just turns me off.

For me, the 'Running to Stand Still' performance is -- visually -- too much cheese on the stick. To be honest, I kind of cringe when I see it. It's the moment when Bono lost his cool for good (well, he only had it briefly).

Still sounds great, though.
Whats interesting about this video/dvd is the story surrounding it re: Adam the night before. I read somewhere where the band seriously thought it would be their last show together.
Great DVD - especially since the Brissy Zoomerang show was lacklustre a couple of nights earlier...
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