by Greg Greene
Pop Mart vs. Zoo Tour
Winner: Pop Mart in the 8th round
Like many people, I'm more of an "old school" fan. Not to say I don't appreciate their new music, just more impressed with their older style: Less glitzy, less orchestrated, just three chords and the truth. During the Zoo TV tour, I felt as though this spontanaiety died. The show was so scripted that I could pinpoint when Bono was going to wipe his forehead off during "until the end of the world." The show had a much deeper concept than the current one and a better set list, but was too focused on the machinery and equipment rather than the things most important: the band and their art.
As I entered the stadium and saw this las vegas-styled set up, I sighed and thought "here we go again." However, I was pleasantly surprised and actually very impressed. U2 put their money to good use. The visuals during the concert were spectacular, but most important, not distracting from the band and music. Instead, it complemented their music nicely. For example during the song "one", instead of seeing buffaloes falling of a cliff on one screen and the word "one" in 8,000 different languages on another, you saw a simple large pop-artish heart that was much more meaningful. Also, the visuals were not so rigid and allowed the band to be "unchained to its machines." The band could play a song as long as they wanted or even change up a tune.
Ahh Chicago, what a show. This show was different from the other two shows I have been to during this tour. For this show I sat in the very front of the B-stage. (For those of you who don't know this already, those are the best seats in the house.) The band was energetic, wild, spontaneous,-- hell, even Mr. Clayton was running all over the place. (last tour I couldn't tell if that was Adam or a wax model with a purple suit!) The crowd was less energetic for some of the newer songs, but that is expected. I felt as though the set list was pretty thorough. However, like most of you I would have enjoyed a set that incorporated much more pre-joshua tree stuff, ie. bad, new years day, gloria, etc. However, if they don't enjoy playin' the stuff than forget it. These guys had fun playing the new stuff and it showed. The best and most intense song of the concert had to be "please." Although not my favorite song, its raw intesity left an eerrie feeling reminiscent of "exit" during the joshua tree tour. The worst song, I thought, was surprisingly "pride." Man! could they possibly tune down their guitars a little more. The strings of Mr. Clayton's bass almost fell off they were tuned so low. I know Bono's voice has been bothering him, but don't butcher a classic. Instead, pick another song that is less stressful on his voice. They have plenty of classics!
All in all, great show! The boys are having fun and are back to a less rigid format. Hell, Bono even let some kid come up and play his guitar on stage for the closing of "gone" (I think it was that song). If you haven't seen the show yet, fasten your seat belt, you're going on a surreal journey.