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Volume 91, Issue 34

Wednesday, October 29, 1997

Union station


53,000 satisfied customers!: Pop Mart proves U2 is still the biggest and baddest

©Mark O'Neill/The Toronto Sun
WE'VE FINALLY FOUND WHAT WE'RE LOOKIN' FOR. Bono, and U2 gave a truly inspired performance in front of two sold out crowds at Skydome on Sunday and Monday night in Toronto.

By Jamie Lynn
Gazette Staff

It seemed like opening night all over again at the SkyDome last Sunday night for U2. When the band officially opened their extravagant Pop Mart tour in Las Vegas last April, it was under the watchful eye of the world media and unfortunately the show hit more than its fair share of stumbling blocks. At the Vegas show, the band had not yet come to terms with coordinating their giant stage ornaments with their music – not to mention Bono's rather strained voice – due mostly to the dry Nevada air.

After taking a month off from a very successful European leg of the tour, Toronto was chosen as the the site for the band's re-emergence into North America. This time, however, the four boys from Ireland delivered their set with great conviction, for a flawless performance.

At the beginning of the show, all four members walked right through the crowd, with "Rocky Balbono" shadow boxing up the rear. When they reached the stage, the band immediately launched into their opener "Mofo" from the Pop album. A flurry of lights and visuals dazzled the audience, while the band sounded perfectly tight and together. The enormous television screen which towered behind them generally focused on taking shots of the band, but also tastefully incorporated bits of film, animation and art.

The show proved to be a very balanced affair, with new tunes like "Gone" and "Last Night on Earth" sandwiched against obvious crowd pleasers including "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Nonetheless, the performance managed not to feel overly staged, due in part to Bono's impromptu comments which dazzled the very enthusiastic crowd of over 53,000.

Still, what has always set U2 miles ahead of many other mundane stadium act, is their ability to transform giant, cement football stadiums into warm musical environments, that when successful, actually manage to make the performances feel intimate. Such can be said of the show's mid-acoustic set, where Bono and The Edge met on the end of a long catwalk that stretched into the middle of the floor. It was here they performed stripped-down versions of "Staring at the Sun" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," with only a single spotlight left to guide their way. This short set proved to be one of the many highlights of the evening.

As expected, the band emerged from a giant mirror-ball lemon for the encore – contributing to the spectacular experience of the show. At the end of the second encore, however, it was the beauty of the song "One" that sent the crowd floating into the crisp night air. Bono repeatedly thanked the crowd for "sticking with us over the years" and the large red heart which appeared on the screen seemed to sum up the night in a way which words could not.

Pop Mart proved itself a success by not being afraid of bridging intimacy and genuine emotion with bold and flashy rock star hugeness. Other acts may try, but U2 have certainly set a new standard for stadium rock shows. If you missed all the madness and mayhem, the band will be playing down the road in Detroit, Michigan on Friday night.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997