U2 Concert Review: Grand Rapids, MI
Date: December 05, 1981
Fountain Street Church
U2 May Be THE Band of Tomorrow
Grand Rapids Press,
U2 hardly fits the choirboy image, but the Irish rock band found a perfect Saturday night sanctuary in Fountain Street Church.
The Dublin boys had some 1,100 fans on their feet for a spirited one-hour set that baptized the locals in the joyous, mystical gospel of U2. Its sermon of rock tunes with religious overtones won over new followers.
U2 could be the band of tomorrow.
Coming from an island torn by strife, U2 has refused to look back at that tragic, disheartening human conflict. Instead the group has chosen to push forward to the promise of brighter days to come.
In that sense, the group's boyish enthusiasm embodies a hope for the future of rock. U2's songs exhibit an energetic optimism for the coming age.
There is no denying the spiritual, uplifting feeling found in the band's music. Its sound is indicative of the reformation of rock set in motion by the new wave movement. Yet there is something dark and mysterious about U2.
Part of the ambiguous quality comes from the group's born-again beliefs. Even though the band remains protective of its Christian convictions -- three members reportedly do not smoke or drink -- the religious references are there, although somewhat disguised.
U2 gave an inspiring show Saturday in spite of the fact that lead singer Bono was plagued with stomach ills. The Irish lads cut their set short by three songs to give Bono a break from the pains which have persisted for a week.
From the triumphant chorus of the opening song, "Gloria," to the misty breeze of the finale, "Ocean," U2 made its message loud and clear. These musicians have set their sights on the heavens.
It didn't seem like the band had any trouble feeling comfortable in the church setting.
"This is a great building," Bono said early in the show. "We're mighty proud to be here."
Although U2 had performed in churches on several previous occasions, bass player Adam Clayton said it's not that easy to spark an audience.
"Churches were designed by architects to create reverence and awe in those who enter them," Clayton said. "Actually, it's not the ideal place for rock-n-roll, but we can overcome that."
U2 wasted little time in getting the Fountain Street crowd hopping to its beat. "With A Shout," "Rejoice," "Electric Co.," "Twilight," "Out of Control," and "Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock" were exciting numbers.
Also captivating were the often brooding, shadowy tones of "I Fall Down" and "October." The piano -- played by The Edge -- added an extra dash of interpretation to the sparkling mood created by U2 in both songs.
Singer Bono was a dynamo on stage. If he was not feeling well, it certainly didn't show. Bono belted out impassioned lyrics while jumping around the set, shaking his shaggy hair in satisfaction.
The Edge was razor sharp on the guitar, cutting a sound that gave his ax a dual quality which almost made the listener think he heard two guitars. Clayton's brash thumping on the bass and drummer Larry's steady punch on his set filled out the U2 sound.
(c) Grand Rapids Press, 1981