U2 transcends space and time
It says something about one band’s ability to reach out and mean so much to so many; old and young, families and friends, the Lads, the Girls, a huge number of couples, loners – a smorgasbord of social couplings ready to worship at the alter of mass-media-digital-poetry-for-modern-living U2 has come to represent.
Kanye West showed his creativity, but the audience was damp and no amount of smooth musical foreplay could tamper expectation more than the 13 years plus eight months, since U2 last shared our soil. At the very least, Kayane honored his tuition with style and grace.
And what a tuition – surely the set was based on Rupert Murdoch’s home theatre system, with a 50 foot screen and speaker stack that managed to warp gravity. Senses are tasered by a cascade of pixels that made you feel you were staring down the barrel of frayed optic wire nerve endings, plugging into a 24/7 hyper rock n roll reality where four tiny men on a far away stage manage to fill a stadium simply with their own gigantic publicity generated profiles. You know when you are a ‘mega-band’ when everyone knows the name of the drummer and bass player, but the fine ego balance of their live performance leaves little space for anyone else to perform this stage – the edge literally had only that to open up his guitar to show some of his rattle to U2’s hum – but it really was only going to be about one person on stage, Bono.
You forget how well Bono sings. His voice is incredible whether it was turning the stadium into a choir, with his as lead on Sunday, Bloody Sunday, or suddenly busting out Pavarotti’s solo in Miss Sarajevo – his range and strength was met by a selection of songs that touched on the teenage vibrancy of the early music, I Will Follow to the big stage confidence of The Streets Have No Name.
How do you describe Bono in performance? He is rock n roll pantomime, exaggerated punk vaudeville, evangelical rebellion, all swagger and cooler than cancer. Part Mad Max Shakespearian jester, part poet prophet, partly for profit, Bono can lead the revolution and make sure enough trees have been planted to ensure the cultural over throw of the elites is carbon neutral.
The band’s bond to NZ was evident from Bono wearing a Warriors jacket to reference of NZ written into some of the lyrics with perfected ease. That bond really sparkled as the band launched into One Tree Hill with koru patterns emblazoned across the screen. Many eyes watered.
There was always going to be a political dimension to this performance, U2 live in a political world and make no apologies for recognizing that. The basic tenets of the UN declaration on human rights were multi-media scrolled across the stage as Bono reminded us with zeal how much can be changed. He rallied the crowd to text their name to end poverty and then printed those names over the screen making many a footsoldier’s dream night.
U2 are the ultimate rock n roll event, fusing rebellion with a deeply personal consciousness defined by a live performance that leaves no one on the sidelines.
If you didn’t go, you really missed something.