In this space is supposed to be a review of the performance, reports Candace Murphy of The Mercury News, but U2 renders a reviewer's words mere folly.
In this space is supposed to be a review of the performance staged by U2 Thursday evening at Compaq Center San Jose. A tally of the songs played, the outfits worn, the banners waved, the flags raised.
But U2 renders a reviewer's words mere folly.
Because the Irish supergroup achieved a musical rarity Thursday evening: The band rewarded its fortunate ticket holders with a two-hour passion play, a soaring arc of the band's brilliant career. The four ageless Dublin rockers unleashed a torrent of memories both old and new, all interchangeably timeless, from the driving punk chords of "I Will Follow" to the soul-stirring, anthemic "Walk On." Cobbled together was musical brilliance. A moment in time not easily described.
The band took the stage unconventionally. With the arena lights blazing and the opening licks of "Elevation" blaring, the four strode onto the main floor through a doorway just beneath Section 117. First was Bono, in black leather and wrap-around shades. Then the Edge in a red No. 16 Joe Montana jersey. Adam Clayton, in fashion-plate red camouflage pants, followed. Bringing up the rear was Larry Mullen Jr., the quiet drummer whose fists would soon grip sticks of militant rage, in an understated blue T-shirt.
For a solid 60 seconds, the band played with the lights on, a glaring scene usually reserved as a slap in the face for opening acts who should be neither seen nor heard. But U2 has never been a band to play by the rules. It wasn't until Bono wove a stolen lyric from the band Radiohead -- "I'm a creep" -- into "Elevation," an underrated song from the new album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," that the lights dimmed. And it wasn't until after the band played "New Year's Day," its first top 10 single back in 1983, that Bono properly addressed the crowd.
"The last time we were in San Jose, it was in a school gym. It held 1,000, but about 2,000 people came. It was one of the best nights of our lives!" proselytized Bono in a sentimental, yet possibly apocryphal moment, since the moment was never officially documented. "It was one of the best nights of our lives. That was a long time ago. If anyone who was there is here tonight, thank you."
The concert, which relied most heavily on the new album and 1991's "Achtung Baby," was packed with thanks. The band thanked San Jose. Oakland. San Francisco. Even Marin County, a swath of land that garnered a precious two nods. It was also an evening of tributes. Before singing "Stuck in a Moment," Bono explained it was written for Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS who died in 1997. During the coda of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," Bono verbally saluted Bob Marley by weaving in a lyric from "Get Up, Stand Up." Marvin Gaye was acknowledged at the end of "Mysterious Ways" with a line from "Sexual Healing." And twice the band eulogized Joey Ramone, the lead singer of the Ramones who passed away last weekend, by dedicating the new album's "In a Little While," early in the evening to the musician, and by later performing a stripped-down duet of the 1977 Ramones song, "I Remember You" with the Edge.
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