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"A song of ours that relies on its studio production to work is generally a song we play once or twice and never play again."

-- Edge

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U2 still a treat despite tricks with the sound

- November 01, 1997
by Brian McCollum

It took five days, 42 trucks and workers to turn the Pontiac Silverdome into a concert hall. At 9:35 Friday night, it was up to four guys to turn it into an event.

In front of a near-capacity crowd of about 40,000 -- including many decked in Halloween gear -- U2 fought mixing gaffes and serrated sound as it passed through on its second U.S. leg of its Popmart tour.

The group that once held forth as the world's biggest, greatest band rolled out a great big show filled with exploratory new material, familiar radio anthems and an onslaught of high-tech lights and video.

Entering to the schlocky strains of M's 1980 hit "Pop Muzik," the band made its way 100 yards across the main floor to its titanic stage, which included a 150-foot-wide video screen, a looming, McDonald's-styled arch and infamous giant lemon.

The band launched into the throbbing, techno-dotted "Mofo," revealing early an evening that promised utterly abysmal acoustics.

Indeed, the sorry sound, which worked most of its black magic on the Edge's guitar work and Bono's vocals, threatened to mar the night. Only the bottom-heavy grooves of "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Until the End of the World" managed to save those excursions.

No matter how noble are U2's sonic ventures -- the chunky riffing of "Last Night on Earth," the piecemeal arrangement of "Gone," the liquid surge of "Please" -- fans appeared more eager to hear the wide atmospherics that long defined the band's sound. And the quartet served it up, delivering the Edge's trademark chiming riffs on "I Will Follow," Bono's star-shooting vocals on "New Year's Day," and a soaring sing-along on "Pride (In the Name of Love)."

Bono acknowledged longtime fans while slyly alluding to his band's growing reputation as a peddler of gimmicky irony: "Thanks for sticking with us," he told the crowd. "So what do you think -- trick, or treat?"



© 1997. Detroit Free-Press. All rights reserved.

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