U2ube – 4/6

Suggested listening – U2 on YouTube

U2 on YouTube: 10 million live streams
U2 on YouTube: 10 million live streams

Vertigo – “Honey, I’m home.” The Edge’s Telecaster moans like a siren. Bono has a new pace for the vocals to go along with the new stage. “I can’t stand the beats/I’m asking for the cheque.” I know the feeling. “Give me something I can feel,” he blasts, his body trembling. Can I believe you? “All of this can be yours/Just give me what I want and no one gets hurt” doesn’t carry the hostage-taking power. “I know it’s only rock and roll, ‘cause I like it” Bono mis-sings like he owns it. He feigns a boxer’s beating for the camera. This version’s different, like a blown tire on the highway.

I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight – Wah wah and giant violet headbobs. Larry Mullen Jr. plays a djembe. “We’ve got a Cuban beat going here” Bono says. Clayton’s bassline is thumped out on a Dayglo purple Precision. It’s actually interesting, in a scholastic way. They fall back into the record’s melody for the chorus. It’s the coolest song so far. The band’s got it; perhaps they just don’t want to use it. “I know I’ll go crazy” Bono leads the crowd. Their response is chaotic and muddled. The band just keeps trucking in eighths. “When two tribes go to war,” Bono chirps as he jerks and tumbles like a crumbling iron giant. He takes an American flag down with him. He calls back to the chorus: “It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain”, then he dials long-distance: “Radio Tehran, this is the United States calling. We love freedom. Can you hear us?”

Sunday Bloody Sunday – The black Strat comes out for the drizzling intro. This is another powerful song when in proper context, but for me, this isn’t it. Misused, it becomes just another rock song. Someone throws an Irish flag onto the catwalk. Bono struts by. A security guard swipes it out of the way. We’ve moved past the IRA; now the cool kids cry about the IRI.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s photo pops up on the big screens. She’s emotionless. Someone wrote she looked bored. “If you’re not a fan of our band, Barbra Streisand says hello,” Bono says.

Walk On – U2’s giving this song back to Burma. Amnesty International and ONE Campaign volunteers walk around the catwalk. The song is now just political communication. I’m behind the cause, but can’t help feeling like the band is taking the song’s meaning back from us. We can’t have it our way. Bono finishes with a few lines of “You’ll never walk alone.”

The stage goes dark. An unplugged guitar gets away with a hum. Someone doodles a few licks in the darkness. It’s the most spontaneity the show’s seen for a while. Desmond Tutu gives a plug for the ONE Campaign. “We are the same person,” he says. Really? Are you hopeless too?

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