Sunday, October 04, 2009

Curmudgeonly reflections on the U2 show, or: I didn't fid what I was looking for at that show

I just spent the last half hour reflecting on my idealistic teenage years and writing up the reasons why I'm a bit let down by last night's U2 show at Carter-Finley. They were all more personal than need be, so I decided to strip out the self-reflection and just dive in. I don't want to give the impression that I hated the show, because I didn't. It was actually a very good show (Jonathan Lee called it a "multi-media spectacular," which sums it up perfectly), but it wasn't the eager, revolutionary U2 that once galvanized me.

The main point is this: If you love the new stuff, you would have loved last night's show, because that's mostly what they played. They did whip out a few requisite oldies, including "Sunday Bloody Sunday," during which the stage was bathed in green lighting to support the Iranian opposition party. And they did play one of my personal favorites, "The Unforgettable Fire." But no "I Will Follow"? No "Gloria"? No "Bullet the Blue Sky"?? No "Pride"???? I realize that when you have a body of work as vast as U2's, some songs have to drop by the wayside, but generally a few of the old classics manage to stay on.

Also, as impressive as that spaceship stage was, with its revolutionary collapsible video screen, I really just wanted them to toss all that aside and just play. I mean really play like they still believe their music will change the world. Yes, there was plenty of talk about changing the world, but no specifics (other than joining Amnesty International) on how to do it. Every call to action seemed calculated not to offend anyone. Bono managed to even call out both the John Edwards and Jesse Helms families for praise, which is, I'm sure, the first time anyone has done that.

The only things the band was willing to point out as wrong were the government crackdown in Iran, and the decades-long house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. Pretty easy targets. Lets see them take a stand on Israeli settlements in the West Bank or demand a public health care option for the poor and unemployed in the U.S. Looks like the only thing that's revolutionary about these guys now is that video screen.


Tid said...

I dropped off some friends from WS who came in town for the show. They were staying with me. I really didn't want to go to the show. I guess I'm an old cranky man who still thinks that everything after WAR went downhill

Deaconlight said...

I remember I sort of "dropped out" from U2 around the time of "Rattle and Hum" and later regretted missing the Zoo TV era. I came back to U2 in the late 90s. The Elevation Tour was very good and Vertigo was one of the best shows I've seen. Yet I lacked excitement for this show for many of the reasons you cite. I had tix for Atlanta but sold them and didn't replace them with Raleigh tix. In retrospect I think I would have been more intrigued about seeing The Claw than the band. The more I hear, the more relieved I am that I didn't fight the traffic to go. Still, you should be glad you went. It sounds like it was visually unique enough to make it worth going.