While it seems highly doubtful that Wim Wenders and members of Depeche Mode would come to Anaheim to see the new California Adventure theme park, they did venture behind the Orange Curtain to cheer on U2.
How to review a U2 show? Some may elevate it to a religious experience, others might curse Bono and band for not curing every ill they walked in with. But by laying out an elevated heart in the middle of the Pond and playing for all the world to see without a lot of gadgets, it's fairly clear that this was for the public. It's been a good year, and everyone's ready to congratulate them.
But before they were symbolically patted on the back for their efforts, PJ Harvey came out like a firecracker to warm up the place. She certainly proved she can take on a stadium crowd and her band sounded great. It's unfortunate she didn't get more time onstage, but that's the catch when you open for U2.
And then U2 opened with "Elevation", which beside being a good omen showed how well their new collection of songs on All That You Can't Leave Behind naturally fits into their repertoire.
The fact remains that this band plays brilliantly well together, and onstage it's electrified. Adam Clayton , the hidden musical scorpio, played his part, while Larry Mullen, the only baby faced member left, was swift and precise on percussion. The Edge, as Bono pointed out, proved he was human when he broke two guitar strings AND tuned it! This aside, The Edge and Bono shared a palpable intimacy onstage.
As for Bono, he still knows all the rock showman tricksplaying bullfighter with The Edge, tossing Bonosweat drenched Irish flag out to the audience, bringing a woman onstage to dance, running a lap around the heart-shaped stage (Bah, so what if he looked a bit fatigued? Who cares if some lyrics were jumbled?). The crowd was so hyped up that his teasing was enough. And truth be told, had he decided to read from The Orange County Register (a surefire way to kill a party anywhere else), people still would have gone wild. His restraint is all the more admirable.
U2's signature songs were hardly forgotten. From "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky" to "Angel of Harlem" and several songs from Achtung Baby, including "One", and "Mysterious Ways". Bono proved he can still turn up the heat on "With Or Without You" and "All I Want is You". However, that heat faltered a bit on "The Fly".
Dedications to Michael Hutchence, ("Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of") and Joey Ramone, ("I Will Follow") gave a moment of remembrance to two artists, while Wim Wenders was also singled out for "Far Away (So Close)". Charlton Heston also got his due in a not so subtle dig.
"Kite" and "In A Little While" were more intimate and emotional, but then the energy rocketed back with "Beautiful Day" and New York".
One major complaint is the noticeable omissions from Pop and Zooropa. "Staring At The Sun" and "If God Will Send His Angels" could easily have been added to the play list as far as I'm concerned.
They opened with "Elevation" and ended with "Pride (In the Name of Love)". Has it really been 20 years?