U2 Revel in Reclaiming Rock Roots,

28 Aug 2001
It may be their reaction to the current Glasgow climate, but U2's Elevation tour sees them on an ambitious mission to destroy their own corporate brand, writes John Williamson.

It may be their reaction to the current Glasgow climate, but U2's Elevation tour sees them on an ambitious mission to destroy their own corporate brand, in the process reclaiming their back catalogue and reconnecting with their audience on a base, emotional level. It succeeds in a direct and convincing manner.

For starters, U2 are possibly the only band in the world who can make the SECC in Glasgow feel like an intimate arena.

It is close on 15 years since their production last fitted such relatively modest surroundings, and though the ticket price has increased by a factor of four, U2's longevity means that they are a much more multidimensional outfit than at the time of The Joshua Tree.

In many ways and in spite of the high production values it is a simple and largely monochromatic show that spans their entire career from I Will Follow to Elevation and Beautiful Day.

The screens above the stage pan closely on the four musicians' earnest faces, and few of the songs extend beyond their welcome. U2 are best when ripping into basic rock and roll songs like Where The Streets Have No Name and Mysterious Ways.

When U2 became too self-knowing and ironic around the early 90s, it may have gained them respect, but it never sat entirely comfortably with a band known for their seriousness, pomposity and popularity.

It would appear on the evidence of both their most recent recordings and this show that they have now accepted that the Zooropa period failed to achieve its intended outcome.

Tellingly, Faraway So Close gained poignancy by being stripped down to some acoustic and vocal sparring between Bono and The Edge, but the two most moving moments are personal and political: Kite which Bono uses to celebrate his late father, and One which is preambled by a message of support for the Drop The Debt campaign and the arguments of the G8 protesters.

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