U2 back to frisky self this time out

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Band digs deep in encore concerts

By Greg Kot, Tribune music critic

In contrast to its four-show run at the United Center last May, when U2 was starting to sound like a highly competent but not particularly adventuresome junior version of the Rolling Stones, the Irish quartet was in friskier mood in two encore concerts last week.

U2 tossed aside the predictable set list and dug deep Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are some key differences between the shows last week and the ones last spring:

Then: The band doesn't make the case for its latest hit-and-miss album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The new songs are bunched together and dispatched early on, as if Bono and the boys didn't know how to integrate them into their performance.

Now: "Miracle Drug" (with the Edge's beautiful guitar figure getting some breathing room at the top) and "Original of the Species" (a killer soul ballad with falsetto harmonies) are showcased instead of buried. The arrangements are less fussy, the melodies more apparent. These are the kinds of moments that send skeptical fans rushing back to the album to hear these songs with fresh ears.

Then: The theatrics of Bono, who stumbled around stage blindfolded in empathy with Iraqi prisoners and spoke at length about religious tolerance, got to be a distraction.

Now: The blindfold is still around, but Bono tones down the speechifying and play-acting. Instead he focuses on the songs. His voice sounds like a howitzer on the rockers, blowing down the doors on "Elevation," and yet he manages to convey a fragile poignance on ballads such as "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own."

Then: No surprises in the set list.

Now: U2 pulls out the soaring and underplayed "Miss Sarajevo" from its mid-'90s Passengers" side project with Brian Eno. Bono steps in for Luciano Pavarotti, whose cameo vocal carries the recorded version into the stratosphere, and lets it rip. A jaw-dropping moment.

Then: An efficient march through the new album, followed by the hits and two encores.

Now: A hodgepodge of old, new and off-the-cuff gives the evening an anything-can-happen quality, even to fans who have seen several shows on this tour. An acoustic "Wild Horses" is particularly welcome, as is a seemingly impromptu segue into the Broadway standard "Old Man River" in conjunction with Bono's comments about Hurricane Katrina and America's resilience during times of crisis. A flamenco "Fast Cars" turns the first encore into an unruly dance, magnifying the theme struck by the erotic push-pull of "With or Without You."

Then: A relatively simple performance, not too dependent on technology, especially in comparison to past tours such as "Zoo TV" and "Popmart." But the choreography of certain segments is apparent.

Now: The light-bulb curtains remain, but the staging is even more frill-free than before, and there's more room to roam within the set list. The focus is once again squarely on the music.

Conclusion: So long, Dinosaur Act. The art-rocking, risk-taking U2 is back with a timely reminder of why this city embraced the band in the first place, 25 years ago.

Copyright © 2005 Chicago Tribune. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

Mr. Paul Hewson –

I feel compelled to write you. You and I are on opposite sides of the world but we both share a common dream – to end world poverty and debt. With great dreams and fame comes great responsibility – but also the ability to move people and to make change – simply by a slight shift in people’s conscious and awareness of a subject.

In my martial arts training you learn how power can be harnessed by the slightest adjustments.

Sometimes the solutions to what seems to be the world’s greatest problems (challenges) are often the simplest.

As you and I both know the unequal distribution of (what is perceived as scarce resources) wealth – being horded by the wealthiest nations. Today’s monetary / banking “system” is perhaps the root of this. After much investigation and research and with speaking with others in the economics arena .. the solution seems to be a rather a simply one. Not easy, mind you, but simply an inverse of the normal “rules” of how the current belief system of monetary systems are handles today – and the creation of a new, world currency (complementary currency system) that is not regulated and run by big business, but rather more of a grass roots system that runs as naturally and systematically as the earth’s eco-system. Not a replacement but a parallel system, that will assist to level the playing field by creating more of a co-operative approach to capitalism … where a person can directly trade their value as a human being providing services / products to his/her community – and perhaps the world - in exchange for economic security.

This all started for me when I wrote down a “concept” 3 or 4 years ago – and put it away. Just recently I “re-discovered” this paper when I dug out my old Hard Drive and loaded into my new PC. This “concept” would have meant nothing had not a few situations in my family’s life occurred (all within the same few weeks) that “formulized” this, creating a huge opportunity to benefit others.

Now, I realize this economic “concept” is very much on par with some of the beliefs I’ve read recently by several experts who write about alternative currencies.

I have always since economics on par with Paul Zane Pilzer – an economist with works such as Unlimited Wealth that explained how we live in a world of unlimited physical resources because of rapidly advancing technology. I also share his concept of abundance vs scarcity. That true wealth and economics should not be measure in terms of limited resources, but rather by this formal:

w = p x t2

Wealth = Physical resources times technology (squared).

*Since technology is purely a man made phenomenon, this simply represents the potential value of people and their ingenuity. He gives a great example of the oil crisis of the 1970’s. All of the world’s scientists said the earth had perhaps 30 years of oil left – then, with the invention of the fuel injection, the rules were changed and these same scientists then came out and said we had another 100 years.

My Rational / Purpose:

My personal belief is that one’s purpose in life to add value and enrich other people’s lives. This is how we serve man kind at large. Even though my wife and I live in one of the wealthiest nations (Canada) on earth, and in an upper middle class neighborhood, we find it amazing just how expensive it is to live. In Toronto, it is now said that a typical family household requires $70K per year just for base. We are told that we are in the top 3% of the “standard of living” in North America. (Yes – I know that does not even compare to developing nations). Yet, we see others in our “upper middle class neighborhood” who are struggling just to get by. All white collar professionals, too.
And, what of the world’s 97%?

Yet – we all have “untapped” resources that the current government regulated economy may not find immediate value in. Such as extra professional time in a week that could be converted / exchanged for currency or economic buying power. To go one step further, as individuals, we are currently “pegged” in society into a few defined roles that the open economic system is willing to pay us for. For years futurologists have stated we are moving towards a time of the “portfolio worker”, or someone of having multiple talents. What if one could simply “tap” into an alternative economy where one could exchange anything of perceived value – not simply what big business or government deems as “important”? This would fully support the concept of a “portfolio worker” – allowing individuals and companies to play on an equal role of both being a consumer and a supplier.

What I propose is somewhat of a grass roots movement, but on a grandeur scale. One that will allow people to empower themselves. One that will allow people to not limit themselves to what “society” has allowed them to “believe” what their role is.

What this concept needs, however, is a catalyst. A front runner. Someone people will listen too to accelerate the idea. As Mark Victor Hansen (re: Chicken Soup Story) personally told me; “Ideas do Create Wealth”

If you are interested you learn more – I am open to discuss. I can also send you some of the material that supports this theory and others who have touched upon the subject.


Martin H. Doherty
‘Strategic Business Coach’
Project Manager / BPR
Reiki Therapist, RP-CRA
Toronto, ON
C: 647-88-RELAX


"Ideas Create Wealth" - Mark Victor Hansen

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 26, 2005 5:04 AM.

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