red lights

U2 Takes Us Under Their Wings

U2 / Garbage
United Center
Chicago, IL
Oct. 15, 2001
Bono feelin' the energy.

Review by Stevie Stlyes
Photos of Bono and Garbage by Phil Bonyata
Photo of Edge by Rob Grabowski

The Irish lads were back in town for the second leg of their "Elevation Tour." If you were fortunate enough to catch the first part, you know this is a unique and at times an intensive and interactive experience for the audience. This certainly held true for the first of two nights in Chicago. The show and set lists are very similar to the first time around, but who cares when it's U2 you can forgive their lack of daring. The sterile house lights were still on as they opened with the pulsating strains of "Elevation." Bono dressed in black jeans, black leather jacket and the ubiquitous sunglasses is Grade A rock star. You either have it or you don't and Bono oozes with star charisma. On "Until the End of the World," Edge played bullfighter to Bono's bull. They slowly circled each other on opposite sides of their giant heart-shaped catwalk that took the battle almost to the center of the arena and right on top of the many over-excited fans close by. Bono It's the unpredictable moments that makes this tour special. In between songs a fan waved Bono over and handed him his camera. Bono snaps a picture of the fan and his friend and then rejoins the Edge for an acoustic rendition of a wrenching and heartfelt "Staring at the Sun."
Bono loves to interact with his audience. He loves to touch, he loves to be touched and hugged. He genuinely loves to be close to his fans. Positioned at the bottom of the heart shaped bridge, a female fan throws Bono a kiss. Seeing this gesture, he takes her by the hand and brings her out of the crowd. He proceeded to serenade the elated woman and ended the song with a gentle kiss to her hand. This is only the beginning. At the end of the super chunky rhythms of "Angel of Harlem," Bono announced, "This guy claims he can play the guitar. This could go horribly.Edge You're not shitting me, are you?," he asked the eager fan. A stage hand appeared with an acoustic guitar and the young man is pulled from the crowd. Before you know it, the fan is playing a solid version of Bob Marley's "People Get Ready" with Bono ad libbing "People get ready for our substitute guitar player." Halfway into the number Bono adds, "Haven't I seen you before? You play guitar for the Smashing Pumpkins. That's a great band!" Obviously referring to the fan's Asian heritage and that of James Iha of the now defunct Smashing Pumpkins. It's these kind of moments that proves why they are soon to be named "Band of the Year" by SPIN magazine.
The band continues with the covers by doing a soulful and personal version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." A better and more focused translation than the one Bono recently participated on for the star-studded charity single. Of course U2 wouldn't let what's going on in the world happen without sharing their two cents. It was during their new song "New York" that Bono added "New York, New York, I love New York, even Chicago loves New York." This brought a huge cheer from the crowd. Or getting more to the point before singing the heartfelt and emotional ballad "One." "We need to cut the oxygen supply to fanaticism", Bono proclaims. "Our hearts and prayers are with you who have sisters and brothers in the military. Also, with the innocent ones in Afghanistan. I've read the Koran and I don't see this." With the applause still in the air and Edge still strumming the opening riff to "One," the songs poignant message is finally understood by many in the audience. Behind the band, blue screens light up and begin scrolling a list of people's names. They are the innocent victims from September 11th. A simple and straightforward presentation that hit you hard. This is U2 at their best. Before 9/11, U2's lyrics and world political views might have seemed a bit pretentious and overbearing, but now as we search for some understanding to the tragedies in New York we as a people must now try to be more open to this special bands' sometimes bitter message of love and understanding.

Shirley Manson hits a high note.
Review by Phil Bonyata

Looking the part of an emaciated David Bowie, Shirley Manson, spokeswoman for the Garbage of the world, got the stage warm and wet for U2s' return visit to the United Center Monday night. "Push It" saw Shirley and the boys slick back their hair and play a post punk party rave - with all of their baggage in tow. The quick chord changes and bass blasts found a hidden undertow that ultimately swept you away from the rhythmic core of the song's heart. "Special" had the gangly Manson, who seemed a bit out of step and self-conscious, grab her mike and gyrate like a dirty kid's discarded top. She even sang the wrong lyrics and at times forgot them entirely. The Scottish born singer even apologized for "sucking" at one point!
"Silence Is Golden" made the secretly introverted little girl try to take command by mugging the other members of the band only to find the musicians weren't having any part of it. Still seductive in her skin as rock star, Manson eyed the audience and then her band mates as she threw her mike in the air in a display of contempt at her own inadequacies. Garbage, while above the daily music radio of today, still can't find a place to call home. Maybe it's just as well they are only a part of the Midwest leg of U2's tour.


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