U2 have gone from 'struggling infancy to ranking in rock history along such greats as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who' writes Robert Hilburn, Pop Music Critic of the LA Times.

Bono paused during U2's sold-out concert Monday at the Arrowhead Pond to reflect on how much things have changed for the Irish band since its first Southland performance two decades ago at a club in Reseda. Despite the wildly enthusiastic crowd and the glamorous setting Monday, the singer went on to suggest that maybe things really haven't changed that much after all--a comment that touched on an essential truth about the Irish band.

There is something fundamental about U2 now that reminds you of U2 then, even though the quartet has gone from struggling infancy to one of the best-selling and most acclaimed bands ever in rock, ranking in rock history along such greats as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who. The key is that U2 continues to be driven by a restless, demanding spirit that doesn't accept either the acclaim or the success as a sign that it no longer needs to look, night after night and album after album, for new ways to touch its audience. It's that unwavering sense of mission that makes its live shows feel like a real, living experience. It's remarkable, for instance, how much the tone of U2's concert has changed since the tour's opener just a month ago in Florida. The challenge at that time for the band was to reestablish its credibility after the relatively sterile PopMart stadium tour in 1997, one of U2's few career missteps.

Returning indoors for this tour, the group created a rare arena intimacy by employing festival seating, which means there are no chairs on the main floor, and by utilizing ramps that allow Bono to walk freely from the stage to the center of the arena. The band showcased several songs in Florida from its latest album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," that revive U2's trademark sound after sonic experiments that took the group so far from its guitar-driven anthems that even longtime fans were confused. Everything worked spectacularly opening night, and reviews ever since have been glowing.

But Monday's show in Anaheim was even more memorable because the Elevation tour now is less about U2 defending its rock crown than U2's message of resilience and hope.

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