After the spectacular multi-media extravaganzas of recent years, U2 - holders of the unofficial title, The Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band In The World - are going back to basics, reports Dave Freak, of The Birmingham Post.

The band's sell-out NEC dates (14-15 August) represent a conscious move away from huge outdoor arenas to indoor shows for the first time in over a decade.

These shows place the emphasis not on the groundbreaking visuals which the band have so far championed, but their performance and the songs themselves.

"The album lends itself to the size of venue where the audience and the band are in this thing together," says bandanna wearing guitarist the Edge.

Bono agrees. After the huge outdoor stadiums of previous years, the Elevation shows are almost intimate by comparison: "Even more than the production, the emotion to proximity is very important to me. I've been to see bands in clubs and felt 100 miles from the lead singer. So we try to get lost in the songs and really connect."

The Elevation tour opened in Miami in March to 19,000 baying fans. Taking the quartet on a five month tour across the US and Europe, it culminates in a hometown gig at Dublin's Slane Castle by which point U2 will have been seen by over 2 million people.

Promising a concert lasting over two hours, the band are dipping into a fluctuating set list of some 50 songs spanning their entire career, and earlier Elevation gigs have even seen the band resurrecting the abnds second single, I Will Follow, released in 1980.

"If you go to see a rock'n'roll band you're not too sure what's going to happen and I love that," confesses Edge. "I went to see Radiohead the other day and it reminded me of why I got into a rock'n'roll band in the first place - there's this incredible sense of listening to something that could just about do anything.

"You don't get that feeling from pop music so much - it's about hitting your marks, it about everything coming off the way it was supposed to.

"To me that's why I still love seeing a rock'n'roll band - the danger!"

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