U2 even more powerful in second show
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff | May 27, 2005
U2 may be peaceniks, but they have a warrior mentality onstage. They were even more potent last night than they were at Tuesday's FleetCenter debut. The sound was better, the playing more impassioned, Bono's raps were more cohesive, and a few notable changes in the song sequence sent this show straight to the A-list of U2 memories.
An air of excitement was building early because U2 revealed backstage that it will perform at the just-confirmed 20th anniversary of Live Aid in London on July 2. ''We're looking forward to it. We definitely want to be a part of it," said bassist Adam Clayton, adding that the group has a show in Vienna that night, but would play earlier in the day.
Blastoff at the FleetCenter came with the same three songs from Tuesday -- a surging ''City of Blinding Lights" (with huge curtains of LED lights dropped from the overheard rigging), a bone-crunching ''Vertigo," and tribal, call-and-response vocals with the crowd on ''Elevation," as Bono addressed the fans as ''sexy people."
Then came a song the band didn't play Tuesday -- the euphoric ''Gloria," sung with a gospel vigor and enhanced by The Edge on vocal harmonies. Frankly, if you had polled the crowd right then and there, they might have said they already had their money's worth. I can't remember another band taking their fans higher after only four songs.
The upbeat tone was furthered by ''Beautiful Day," before Bono launched a long rap about how Boston was not just ''the city of Aerosmith and the Cars," but was filled with ''smart people who believe in the future, who have faith in the future." In introducing the song ''Miracle Drug," he talked about how Boston is known for its medical community and that ''God inspires scientists and nurses." He spoke more openly about God last night than he has in quite a while onstage -- and later he talked about religious leaders from Jesus to Mohammed and how they were ''all sons of Abraham."
Oh yes, and then they rocked. An anti-war theme ran through a powerful segue from punk-rocking ''Sunday Bloody Sunday" to the heavy-metal-drenched ''Bullet the Blue Sky," as Bono, draped in a white bandana, touchingly added verses from the Civil War song, ''When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again."
The song ''Running to Stand Still" was dedicated, without sarcasm, to the men and women of the US military. It was followed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights scrolled on a video screen, leading to a thunderous ''Pride (In the Name of Love)," a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
Bono, who often walked on a circular ramp extending halfway onto the floor (he also briefly played a drum out there), took the main set home with the spiritual exaltation of ''Where the Streets Have No Name" and ''One," which was prefaced by a poignant speech on the need to eradicate poverty and alleviate Third World debt.
The first encore was ''The Fly" (also not played on Tuesday), followed later by another new insertion, ''Original of the Species," from the latest album, ''How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." Most of the show had songs from Tuesday, but the few changes helped sharpen the focus of an already transcendently compiled program.
Openers Kings of Leon slammed through an uncompromising set of primitive, muleskinner rock with great energy and swagger.
PS - I thought Kings of Leon were terrible; the only audible thing out of the lead singer were a bunch of constipated moans. It was just a bunch of noise to me. I saw them on Tuesday so maybe they were better last night but I don't think I'll be picking up their album anytime soon (or ever).