U2 stands the test of time
Fleet Center, Boston, May 28, 2005
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - After several months out on the road, it was time for U2 to conclude the first leg of the U.S. portion of the Vertigo 2005 tour in one of the band's favorite and most supportive cities, a home away from home, Boston.
And Bono and mates did not disappoint for the most part.
U2 is touring behind their very successful "How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb" release and played a good chunk of it before the enthusiastic sold-out crowd.
Not only does the music stand up well on the recording, but live as well. Like the album, U2 tended to rock more than previous times. Instead of the trademark chimey guitar sounds emanating from The Edge, he also tended to adopt more of a rock sound in his playing.
And with great drumming all evening long from Larry Mullen Jr. and his rhythm buddy Adam Clayton on bass, they forged ahead no matter what the musical style. While The Edge tends to get most of the musical acclaim in the group, let there be no doubt about the roles of Clayton and Mullen, but especially the timekeeper, who does not overdo it, but keeps one heck of a steady beat.
Bono, of course, has been accused of at times being on the preachy side and self-indulgent. He shied away from those negative traits on this evening, save for wearing shades a chunk of the time.
Yes, he did talk - about poverty in Africa as the United Nations charter scrolled down on a screen above the audience, while the band played "One," but it was to good effect.
Bono spoke about President John F. Kennedy and how he was leader of such strong dimension that the people followed. Acknowledging the greatness of America, Bono said, "We're not asking to put a man on the moon. In fact, we're asking President Bush to bring man back to earth." He urged President Bush to be a leader in this day and age in the fight against hunger because the masses will follow.
The concert suffered from several lulls earlier in the set where the pace seemed roughly the same. The playing and singing were competent, but there were no particular highlights or over-the-top songs.
But concert went into higher gear with music from the past, which stood the test of time. "Pride (In the Name of Love)," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" remained as strong as they ever have and sent the concert soaring.
The lighting and staging of the show was excellent with red tones (particularly effective on "Bite the Bullet Sky") dominating and yellow. Very long strands of beads hung from the ceiling above the stage with lights running up and down the beads also proved very colorful.
U2 made good use of a oblong walkway that went half way back in the crowd, of course, bringing them closer to their fans. A few young ones got on the walkway and later found themselves on stage playing percussion for a song.
For some reason, U2 concluded the evening with the same they had played near the beginning - "Vertigo." Now, the second version was quite fine, intense and meaty, but frankly why bother?
It's not as if these were the good old days when they had to play "I Will Follow" twice because they probably had no other songs.
A far superior choice would have been something like the sadly overlooked "With Or Without You."
A few more songs - and there were a lot that could have, should have been played - would have done the evening even more justice.
Okay, so this wasn't a perfect night, but U2 still manages to remain their musical power and intensity more than 20 years into a career, while also instilling political and spiritual truths into their music and message.