catapult magazine

catapult magazine


U2's Vertigo Tour Begun


Apr 01 2005
08:36 pm

Warning: if you’re planing on seeing U2 perform during their Vertigo tour and you want it to be a surprise, don’t read this message. I just wanted to reflect on U2’s performance this week, though I’m still processing what they’re up to.

U2 began their Vertigo tour in San Diego. I went to their second show here, just two days after the concert that kicked off the tour. I was glad for the opportunity to see them perform when they hadn’t been on tour for several years. Bono’s love for his audience really came out. Some ways into the concert he asked us how they were doing. On the U2 Rattle and Hum DVD there’s a scene when Bono was playing with B B King before a concert and B B, trying to improvise, said, “I don’t what to do here,” Bono said, “Is that a joke?” But B B was actually sincere. I think Bono was as well; he didn’t want merely to presume the audience would love their performance. Perhaps even rock stars are occasionally unsure whether the whole thing’s going to come off flat. Later in the concert, before their second encore, Bono paused for a while, almost to point of awkwardness. The rest of the band was waiting to begin, not quite sure what Bono was up to. Then Bono smiled, apologized, and said he just wanted to take the moment in. It struck me that he really didn’t want the concert to end.

When Bono gave the signal, the Edge started playing an acoustic version of Yahweh. As he has done in the past, he picked up a high powered flashlight and pointed into the crowd and sang to small groups of people lit up in the limelight. Bono has used a flashlight in the past to challenge the crowd, as for instance when singing Bullet the Blue Sky to Americans, as though to say, “Don’t you see, this song is addressed to you.” This time he seemed to want to draw them in, to have a personal moment with his audience.

He then set the flashlight down, with the beam directed upwards, and walked away. The lights in the arena turned off. Perhaps the statement was lost on some.

The lights turned back on and they ended the concert the way they did in the early ‘80s, by singing 40. I found myself asking the question Bono shouted in a recorded live performance of Until the End of the World, "Is this rock n’ roll?"