Critical Acclaim For Astoria Show

9 Feb 2001
U2's Wednesday night intimate club show in London has garnered the band extraordinarily warm reviews from critics.

Pop: U2 rocks the Astoria , reported John Aizlewood for The Guardian in the UK, giving a five star review.

Outside, Tottenham Court Road had ground to a halt. Those who had failed to secure tickets for U2's most intimate show in over a decade were offering £800 for a pair of tickets distributed free to hardcore fans and competition winners. By the close, £800 seemed almost worth it. It is easy to forget just how essential U2 are. They were simply magnificent. Madonna recently tried much the same tack with her show at Brixton Academy and she got away with half an hour of waffle, merely because her audience were delighted to be there. Last night, U2 eschewed irony and cleverness. Ever aware of a chance to grandstand, they showcased their superlative new album All That You Can't Leave Behind. Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of epitomised all that remains right about them: a beautiful song kept away from the number one slot by the band Atomic Kitten, of all people, it was a languid, elegiac singalong. By contrast, Beautiful Day was an upbeat shoutalong - even John Hurt at the front of the circle clapped along - and the rumbling New York, all heroic backlighting, was evidence that they can stimulate mind as well as body. Some of the hits were there too: the opening Until The End of the World, a swashbuckling Mysterious Ways and even 11 O'Clock Tick Tock and I Will Follow, songs older than many of the fans in the audience. Bono, part Elvis Presley, part Joe Strummer, part Dublin urchin, still has charisma.

Review from


U2 Take London and 'Rock Stars Still Walk Among Us' declared Q4Music, online home of Q Magazine

...........The impression created by latest album All That You Can't Leave Behind - that U2 can finally embrace all the bands they have been and feel embarrassed by none of them - is brought into even sharper focus. U2 have been freed from the constraints of ideology; all they do now is rock'n'roll.

Every way that U2 could have messed up tonight - 1) posing like a band you can only see with binoculars; 2) wearing the superannuated PopMart get-up they've inappropriately sported on their TV spots over the last two weeks; 3) slacking off because they're preaching to the converted - they didn't. Sporting T-shirts and jeans, the band reclaimed a sartorial dignity befitting their ages. Bono looked his leanest in 12 months. During Bad, the slowburning Unforgettable Fire track they ended the pre-encore section with, he tightrope-walked the crowd-rail, grasped the proffered hands and leaned back, trusting both audience and stomach muscles not to give out.

Bono revived another old Bono trick: weaving in lyrics from other people's songs. Hence Joy Division's Transmission, The Teardrop Explodes' Reward (now wouldn't Julian Cope just hate that) and Craig David's Walking Away (quoted during One, and on reflection, practically the same song - naughty Craig). The old Bono arrogance ("Hello, we're the best band in the world") was back and rather beautifully encapsulated in the moment he took out his mobile phone and shared All I Want Is You with a mystery callee (doubtless the wife).

Highlights, then: Desire (shuffly and semi-acoustic, foregrounding the lyrical lewdness of "the fever when I'm inside her") and Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of (assured and delicate). Lowlights: Mysterious Ways (they buggered up the beginning) and, er, that's it. Finale: "40", a trigger to owners of Under a Blood Red Sky to sing "how long to sing this song" for about an hour. Conclusion: some real rock stars still walk among us, thank Christ.

Review from


Bono bounces back after saving the Third World , announced the UK's The Independent

When U2 won the NME's Godlike Genius award last week for services to music, their guitarist The Edge joked that having God in the band helped.

He was, of course, referring to Bono. If U2's singer has a messianic complex, though, you'd have to admit that he channels it positively. Could Marilyn Manson convince US congressman Jesse Helms to return $435m in cancelled Third World debt? Not even with a hand-gun and a fresh coat of lippy.

The Edge has also conceded that Bono's philanthropy has eaten into band-time recently, but with the US premiere of the Bono and Wim Wenders-produced movie The Million Dollar Hotel just gone, last night's gig marked the start of an intense period promoting the latest U2 album, All That You Can't Leave Behind.

The intimacy of the venue certainly added to the opening-night cachet. Punters keen to see the group in an environment where they wouldn't need binoculars had reportedly paid up to £3,000 for a ticket. But for most fans, this was obviously something of a pilgrim's regress. Almost all of us were in our 30s, and some of us even wore Boy T-shirts dating from 1980. Even so, it was hard not to feel a frisson of excitement when Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" signalled both the end of the DJ's set and the imminent arrival of U2.

Review from


World-beating U2 delight fans, declares BBC News Online.

Rock stars U2 declared themselves "the best band in the world" as they played their most intimate British show in 18 years on Wednesday. The Irish quartet played to 2,000 people at a special fans-only concert at the Astoria in central London. It was a warm-up for a world tour which begins in Florida next month. The band dipped into their back catalogue as well as playing tracks from their latest album All That You Can't Leave Behind. They kicked off with End Of The World, continuing with newer tracks Beautiful Day, Elevation and New York. Later Bono stood at the edge of the crush pit at the front of the stage, balancing as the crowd supported him above their heads. He then stuck a messiah-like pose, standing with his hands in the air, as the crowd gave them a rapturous reception. Earlier this week the band had been given a Godlike Genius trophy at the NME awards. They also played some of their earliest material, including their Island Records debut 11 O'Clock Tick Tock. "We'd like to play the first single we ever played for Island Records, because that's the kind of thing we do," Bono told the delighted fans.

Review from


Sensational gig in front of 2,000 fans at the London Astoria reported Music365.

Diehard fans mixed with celebrity guests who included Sir Bob Geldof, Mick Jagger, Chris Evans and Billie Piper, comics David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, All Saints' Shaznay Lewis, Radiohead's Colin Greenwood, Ash, Massive Attack, Kylie Minogue, Oasis and authors Will Self and Salman Rushdie. The rock behemoths were delayed briefly due to technical hitches at the intimate venue, but when they arrived they didn't disappoint. They played a host of tracks from current album 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' as well as a clutch of old hits. Lead singer Bono, resplendent in leathers and shades introduced the band and then said: "We're doing this 'cos we're re-applying for the job. There's a lot of people here watching this that could probably say the same thing. The job is the greatest band in the world."

Review from


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