U2 Go Old School in Cali



By Steve Baltin -- RollingStone.com

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of U2's debut album, Boy. And while the band's current world tour, which kicked off last night before a sold-out crowd at the San Diego Sports Arena, is in support of last year's chart-topping How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the four lads from Dublin were clearly feeling a bit sentimental, making for some surprising vintage moments during the two-hour set.

The lion's share of material came from the new record, starting with the opening "City of Blinding Lights" and the album's punchy first single, "Vertigo," which singer Bono introduced by saying, "Spanish lessons in San Diego . . . I don't think so."

The night's first surprise came soon thereafter, when Bono announced, "We're gonna go back to where it started." As a flag unfurled over the backdrop featuring the Boy album cover, the foursome -- Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. -- jumped into the way-back machine for "The Electric Co.," with Bono segueing into a snippet of the showtune "Send in the Clowns." U2, who have largely ignored their distant past on recent tours, then treated longtime fans to "An Cat Dubh" and "Into the Heart" -- both also off of Boy. "An Cat Dubh" was the concert's moody highlight, with its hard bass line pulsing under the bluish stage lights.

As Bono worked the runway -- as on the previous tour, the stage set featured a circular ramp that extended out into the middle of the floor -- the band jumped into "Beautiful Day," from 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind. "New Year's Day," the band's 1983 breakthrough U.S. hit, followed and received an uproarious ovation, proving that U2 weren't the only ones feeling nostalgic.

The alternation of new and old tracks continued throughout the set. The band effectively combined the new album's mid-tempo ballads "Miracle Drug" with Bono's tribute to his late father "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," during which he removed his trademark sunglasses to deliver his most impassioned vocals. The rocking "Love and Peace or Else," which found Larry Mullen Jr. banging away on the drums at the apex of the ramp, was followed by War's "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

During an acerbic "Bullet the Blue Sky," off of 1987's The Joshua Tree, a blindfolded Bono got down on his knees and held his hands over his head as if bound. The staunch anti-war song ended with snippets of "Johnny Come Marching Home" and the chorus from "The Hands That Built America," a song the group contributed to Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. The political statement continued, as "Bullet" was followed by U2's beautiful Joshua Tree ballad "Running to Stand Still." Featuring Bono on harmonica and acoustic guitar, the song provided the intro for a video listing the articles of the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights.

The band then delved into material from 1991's Achtung Baby, with guitarist the Edge taking the spotlight with the fierce solos that fuel that record. "Zoo Station" and "The Fly" featured provocative sayings flashing quickly on the backdrop of beaded curtains. The show went on to close with a lively rendition of All That You Can't Leave Behind's "Elevation."

Coming back for the encores, the quartet revisited 1984's The Unforgettable Fire for a rousing "Pride (In the Name of Love)," with Bono taking the opportunity to refer to the work he's been doing on behalf of third-world debt relief by asking the crowd to "sing for Africa" at the song's close. And during "Where the Streets Have No Name," an African flag unfurled over the backdrop. Proving he can be high-minded and smooth-talking at the same time, Bono announced, "We are more powerful, we are extraordinary as one" . . . as the band struck the opening notes of Achtung Baby's "One." This was followed by impassioned versions of new songs "All Because of You" and "Yahweh."

The band saved the night's biggest revelation for last, as Mullen began the repetitive drumbeat to "40," the biblical sing-along that used to close U2 shows. In a nod to the early days, at the song's conclusion, Bono walked off the stage first, followed by Clayton and the Edge, while Mullen provided the beat to the crowd's chanting of the chorus "How long to sing this song." When the lights came on, most in the San Diego Sports Arena were still singing.


hey man that was awesome. i was looking for something like this - a running commentary of the tour and i must say this is def gonna be one i get when its released coz it has all the songs i want on it. thanks for the detailed rundown of what they played and keep up the good work. im gonna return here to read about the next night of the tour

can i stick that review on my blog and leave a reference of ur site on there so they know its urs and not mine?

Sure, go right ahead (but keep in mind that we took this article from Rolling Stone Magazine)..

thanks jw! that was absolutely great! this will be my first concert after years and years of just dreaming about it, i can't wait :).

Awesome reporting on behalf of Rolling Stone. Sounds like this will be a stunning tour.

It was an awesome concert! We were there (from Texas) and it was by far the best concert we've ever been to. We waited outside of the San Diego Sports Arena for an hour and we were able to shake hands with Bono. He actually walked right into the thick of the crowd without security.

We hope to go to the concert in Houston and stand near the band. They are all great showmen and give the show their all.

Can't wait 'til this comes out on DVD soon!!:)

I can't wait till friday the first. And definitly like to see U2 rlelese a DVD after the tour!

Great review! I have been a very devoted fan of U2 since boy. I love all of there music but I really enjoy the first few albums.Im glad that they are paying tribute to their roots on this tour. Can't wait to see them this will be the 8th time I have seen them in concert.They are with out doubt to me one of the top 3 bands of all time barnone!

I can't wait to go tomorrow. The concert will be held at the HP Pavilion in San Jose California. It says on the ticket No Cameras. Do you think they wand people?


Saw them in San Jose - best show I've ever seen! Brought me back to when I was a 11 and would sit and listen to my Joshua Tree Albumn (yes Albumn) over and over and over again!! I'd never had the chance to see them before, but I will definitely see them again. In fact I went home and bought tickets to the Oakland show in November. They may not be the best seats, but I'll be there!!

I love him too!!!

U2 is a very good band and I am currently a 16 year old in the United States doing a project on them. I did not realise how many of the songs I like happen to be there songs. They are an inspiration for young people around the world

i have been in u2 concert (barcelona) and now i only can say that this night was unforgetable, i felt a lot of thinks when i listened my favourite songs, i love you too, U2. is my favourite group of music and i only can to listen u2 music... good luck for everyone

i fucking love u2 rock it up hard hard hard i love it fucking raise the roof you mo'fo's rip it up bono ur my man forever



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Chris Martin published on March 29, 2005 7:49 PM.

U2 Kicks Off World Tour was the previous entry in this blog.

Heartfelt Ambition: Challenging Personal Themes and Enduring Energy Keep U2 More Relevant Than Ever is the next entry in this blog.

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