Annie (canadanne) wrote in u2,

Song Of The Day

Sorry I missed my SOTD last weekend, I was staying with relatives and didn't have time to put something together. Hoping this one will make up for it...

Anyone who knows me, knows that if I were to marry an inanimate object, it would undoubtedly be my ZooTV Live From Sydney video. I purchased it in the summer of 1999, shortly after becoming a U2 fan (when my album collection still consisted of nothing but the Best Of 1980-1990 and Achtung Baby), and I immediately fell head-over-heels in awestruck love with the whole incredible show. Since then, I've watched it so many times I pretty much wore out the first tape and had to buy a second copy, and it remains my favourite U2 video release by a zillion miles.

Sadly, these days I rarely get the chance to sit down and watch it - but this month it finally came out on DVD, which gave me the perfect excuse for another viewing. And what better time to ramble on rapturously about one of the greatest U2 concert sequences you will ever behold:

Dirty Day --> Bullet The Blue Sky --> Running To Stand Still --> Where The Streets Have No Name

I've got my work cut out here, as ZooTV's "Heart Of Darkness" set is really stunning beyond description, and has to be seen - no, experienced - to be appreciated. But I'll do my best, and hopefully you'll all go running for your shiny new DVDs and sit with mouths agape just like me. :)  This post is kind of inspired by sapphires13's special SOTD about a sequence from the Boston Elevation DVD... seems we all have our favourite moments of magic. I just hope I can do this one justice!

This powerfully dramatic segment of the show comes immediately after the feelgood acoustic set, out on the B-stage. The reason I'm stretching this Song Of The Day post to include an unprecedented FOUR songs is that you simply cannot separate them - the transitions between each pair are so perfect, it just wouldn't be the same if I left any song out. I'm sure anyone who's seen this show will agree, and if any of you have yet to experience it... well, I guarantee you'll see what I mean. This is something truly special.

The scene: Bono's surreal, eerily peaceful duet with Lou Reed on "Satellite Of Love" has drawn to a close, and Lou's flickering face on the screen finally dissolves into a sea of static as the band make their way back towards the main stage. Now things start to take a darker turn. As the menacing bassline of Zooropa's fabulously sinister "Dirty Day" begins to drift through the stadium, the atmospheric blue lighting is gradually extinguished until the stage is almost in total darkness, with just a single spotlight on each band member. Bono prowls the catwalk as he sings the opening verse, unleashing his killer falsetto at just the right moment as he does on the album version. "You can't even remember what I'm trying to forget" is then followed by a "HEY!" (complete with rock star leap), and the band explode into life, accompanied by frantic, almost strobe-like flashes of white light. By the time things calm down for the second verse, Bono has joined his bandmates on the main stage, and they're surrounded by little screens lit up in soothing pastel colours (which slowly change every few seconds - I particularly like the way they all fade to blue at the start of the bridge).

Edge briefly takes over vocal duties for "Love... it won't last kissin' time" just before the final verse, and there's another frenzy of crashing drums and flashing lights as he and Bono duet on "These days, days, days run away like horses over the hills". Bono is clearly swept up in the energy of the song, once again yelling out as Edge launches into a blistering guitar solo. Then as it all dies out again and we're left with little more than Adam's brooding bass, the little blue screens fade to black in perfect harmony with the music... and we reach my favourite part of the song. Bono stands at the mic, his looks and his voice both at their absolute peak, and in the most heartstoppingly gorgeous falsetto he begins to sing: "Looooove... it won't last kissin' time". By the third repetition of this line, his spotlight has been turned off and it's just that haunting voice caressing you in the darkness... if your spine isn't tingling by this point, there's something wrong with you. And then on the fourth one, just as you've been lulled into this dreamy trance and you're expecting to hear Bono complete the line....

Dirty Day (click to enlarge)   Burning crosses (click to enlarge)   Bullet The Blue Sky (click to enlarge)

BOOM!  Edge's guitar crashes angrily into "Bullet The Blue Sky", as the whole stage immediately lights up with a hellish red glow, and huge burning crosses rise up on all the screens. Wow - it's an incredibly striking image, and such a contrast from the previous song. Bullet The Blue Sky should *always* be this kickarse, IMHO. Bono is suitably aggressive as he snarls the opening lines, stamping his feet and swinging the mic stand around, and the chorus sounds great with his voice in such excellent shape. The smaller screens around the stage display words such as "WAR", "GUN" and "UZI". Drenched in sweat, Bono leaps and thrashes his way through the second verse, a mesmerising glare fixed on his face at one point... it all looks completely awesome, with smoke everywhere and the orange glow reflecting off Bono's black vinyl clothing. As we reach the bridge, the crosses on the screens transform into flaming swastikas, and Bono lets out a threatening moan of "Don't let it happen again, NO!" - before pretending to plunge a detonator and triggering a blinding explosion of light across the stage, perfectly synchronised with Edge's guitar blasts. Wow again.

Swastikas (click to enlarge)   The anti-smack commando (click to enlarge)

Edge performs one of his absolutely mindblowing solos, mostly shown in an unusual black & white, while Bono disappears backstage for a quick costume change. His re-emergence is first signalled by a disembodied "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...", and then we see him strolling onstage, via some kind of radar-like targeting vision. He's now wearing a military jacket and cap, dark shades and a head mic - "the anti-smack commando", as the DVD booklet describes this persona. :)  He's murmuring his way through the "This guy comes up to me..." section, working himself into a theatrical rage for the "Slappin' 'em down!" line. His screams of "One hundred!", "Two hundred!" etc are brilliantly punctuated with more guitar bursts and dazzling flashes of light, and he also gets in the golf swing to illustrate "Four..." ;)  This dramatic section reaches a climax after "I can see those fighter planes!", with Bono letting out a fabulous grunt and throwing his arms in the air, before leading the enormous crowd in that distinctive Bullet The Blue Sky clapping pattern. Which is quite a sight - if Queen's set at Live Aid gives you chills, this definitely should as well. Striding along the catwalk, Bono proceeds to act out the closing lyrics of the song, throwing himself into it so passionately that he's practically having convulsions on the "saxophonnne!" / "moooaaaannn!" lines. ;)  Forget your Vertigo Tour wander-through-the-park renditions of Bullet - this is what it's all about, Bono screaming "Outside it's Americaaaa!  AMERICAAAAAAA!" at the top of his lungs. And he (literally) runs... and he runs... into the arms....

"....Of America?"

Bono is standing alone on the B-stage, arms held aloft, lit only by two spotlights (one yellow, one blue). He holds the pose for several seconds as the crowd go crazy all around him... and at last the musical silence is broken by that aching ZooTV guitar intro of "Running To Stand Still". That exquisite sound, the most haunting of all versions (sorry, but the piano just doesn't compare). Bono hugs himself pensively as he sings the first verse, before once again raising his arms skyward for the Ha la la la de day's. Then during the second verse, he begins to act out a little scene that I cannot watch without wincing squeamishly - rolling up his sleeve and rubbing his arm as if preparing to shoot up heroin. There's brief respite as he stops for another round of impassioned Ha la la la de day's (and how I love the way he belts those out), but then he throws himself into the junkie mime with increased vigour, and it makes my own arm feel weird just watching him. By the time he gets to "She is ragin', she is ragin'", he's practically singing through clenched teeth - and his sinister tone on "suffer the needle chill" really makes me shiver, especially with the gesture that accompanies it. "She's running to stand.... OOF!"

Needle chill (click to enlarge)   Running To Stand Still (click to enlarge)

Bono plunges the imaginary needle into his arm, sinking to his knees as he does so. It's powerful stuff.


And now the bit that really hits me in the heart every time. As the drums and guitar come in again, Bono - still down on his knees - lets out a sort of agonised gasp, which then turns into a cold and broken "Alle...allelujah!". He appears frail at first, but as he continues to cry out, he seems to gain strength and manages to climb to his feet. Now he's really screaming to the heavens - "Halle, Halle, Hallelujah!" - and just to watch him feels like a religious experience, it brings tears to my eyes. I can't properly describe in words how ecstatically glorious this part is. I wish Bono could still sing with that kind of earth-shattering power. I wish they would still perform Running To Stand Still like this, the way it should be, utterly heart-wrenching. You just want it to go on and on, and it does... until with one last triumphant "HalleluJAH!", Bono throws his arms and head down, and is swiftly engulfed in a vast swirling sea of smoke. It's gorgeously lit with fiery oranges and yellows, delicate pinks and blues... at times it's so dense that you can't even see Bono, you can only hear his plaintive harmonica drifting through the smoke. Holy wow, it's beautiful. And the best is, unbelievably, yet to come.

Hallelujah (click to enlarge)   Smoke (click to enlarge)   Harmonica (click to enlarge)   Harmonica (click to enlarge)

Bono makes his way slowly but purposefully along the catwalk back to the main stage, not flinching at any of the things the audience are throwing at him (even when somebody absolutely showers him in water!). His journey is accompanied by nothing but some haunting background synth. As he reaches the stage, he turns and gazes out across the audience, and the two coloured spotlights finally go out, leaving everything in darkness (which is greeted with rapturous screams). The neon ZOOTV logo stands out against the blackened set, with a few white lights dancing around it... and as the camera slowly pans closer, *all* the screens gradually start to glow a deep red. The synth has been subtly changing pitch, and now you recognise it melting into the unmistakable opening strains of "Where The Streets Have No Name". You can't help it... you can feel the emotion beginning to swell in your chest, your throat. Larry's trademark cymbal crashes and drumstick-tapping start up, and in a truly superb bit of directing, the camera angle changes to show a different view of the huge red screens with every other crash. Then at last, there's a distant shot of the entire stage as Edge's legendary guitar riff comes in - and at that exact moment, bright white lights begin to twinkle all over the stage, in perfect time to the music. It's enough to send a thousand tingles down your spine at once, and if you were welling up before, the tears are probably spilling over right about now. It is quite simply a moment of utter bliss, and is probably the greatest transition between songs that U2 ever have and ever will achieve.

And then there's the gigantic blinding flash, like someone just dropped an atomic bomb onto the stage (or maybe it's the result of several thousand hearts bursting simultaneously), and everyone *screams* with joy. Indescribable.

Streets intro (click to enlarge)   Streets intro (click to enlarge)   Streets intro (click to enlarge)

There's an absolute ocean of bodies, all bouncing up and down in euphoric unison, and now Bono's back with another change of clothes - sans shades and looking very smart in a nice clean jacket. There's a hint of a smile on his face, but he's trying to be all serious rock star for the moment. It feels like the song's already been going for an eternity by the time he actually opens his mouth to sing!  He starts to have some fun in the second verse, playfully holding up his hands as if retreating from a fierce glare when he sings the line "I wanna feel the sunlight on my face". As we approach the first chorus, the camera focuses on Larry for a bit longer than usual - and our oh-so-stern drummer can't help but break into a radiant grin. Make the most of it, 'cos it's the first and only time we see him smile during the entire concert! ;p  It's obvious that Bono is really enjoying himself, grabbing the microphone with an excited yell at the end of the chorus, before delivering the line "And our love turns to rust" in an awesome growly voice. As we see him dancing enthusiastically on the stage, check out the girl in the audience who's sitting atop someone's shoulders, waving her arms - isn't it the same girl who dances with MacPhisto later in the show?

Larry smiles! (click to enlarge)   Larry smiles! (click to enlarge)

Shortly after singing "High on a desert plain", there's a great moment where Bono stops to scratch the back of his head, and just for a second - with his hair all ruffled and a silly expression on his face - it's as if you're looking at that goofy Baby Bono from U2's early days. And speaking of 80s nostalgia, just before the next chorus begins, Bono turns and shouts "Hey you!" at one of the screens above the stage... which happens to be showing some footage of Joshua Tree era U2 walking through the desert. JT Bono immediately turns round to see who's calling him, and ZooTV Bono gives himself a cheery wave - how brilliant is that? :)  It must be so carefully timed, but looks completely spontaneous. ZooTV is amazing like that.

Head scratch (click to enlarge)   Hey you! (click to enlarge)

As the guitar and drums frantically build up towards the bridge, Bono lets out a trademark "Yep!" and breaks into a run across the stage (because how could anyone stand still for long during Streets?). The harmonised "Ohhh ohhh ohhh, whoa oh ohh ohhh" bit is as exalting as ever, and Bono leaps up on top of a speaker stack at the end of the stage, as if to survey his people from above - or just take in the spectacular view. :)  He smiles a knowing smile as the crowd erupts all around him for the closing lines of the song. The glorious final "I wanna go theeerrrre with youuuuu!" coincides with JT-era U2 looking out pensively as the archive footage comes to an end. And gazing affectionately towards his bandmates on the ZooTV stage, Adam's face breaks into joyful laughter, as if to say: "How could I ever throw this away?"

Bono smile (click to enlarge)   Adam grin (click to enlarge)

If that didn't give you goosebumps, nothing will.


I don't know you... and you don't know the half of it
Had a starring role... played the bad guy who walked out
They say be careful where you aim, 'cos where you aim you just might hit
You can hold onto something so tight, you've already lost it

Draggin' me down... that's not the way it used to be
You can't even remember what I'm trying to forget

Was a dirty day
Yeah, dirty day

You want explanations... of things I don't understand
You need someone to blame
Hey throw a rock in the air
You're bound to hit someone guilty

From father to son
In one life has begun
A work that's never done
Father to son

(Love... it won't last kissin' time)

Get it right... there's no blood thicker than ink
Hear what I say... nothing's as simple as you think
Wake up... some things you can't get around
I'm in you... more so when they put me in the ground

Days, days run away like horses over the hill
Those days, days, days run away like horses over the hill
Those days, days, days run away like horses over the hill
Those days, days, days run away like horses over the hill

Love... it won't last kissin' time
Love... it won't last kissin' time
Love... it won't last kissin' time
Love... it won't last kissin'--

In the howling wind comes a stinging rain
See 'em driving nails into the souls on the tree of pain
From the firefly, a red orange glow
I see a face of fear running scared in the valley below, oh

(Sky) / Ooh ooh ooh ooh
(Sky) / Ooh ooh ooh
Bullet the blue sky / (Sky)
Bullet the blue sky / (Sky)
Bullet the blue / (Sky)
Bullet the blue / (Sky)

In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum
Jacob wrestled the angel, the angel was overcome
You plant a demon seed, you raise a flower of fire
See 'em burning crosses, see the flames higher and higher

(Sky) / Ooh ooh ooh ooh
(Sky) / Ooh ooh ooh
Bullet the blue sky / (Sky)
Bullet the blue sky / (Sky)
Bullet the blue / (Sky)
Bullet the blue / (Sky)

Don't let it happen again, no...!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
This guy comes up to me, see
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush
Like all the colours of a royal flush
He's peelin' off those dollar bills
Slappin' 'em down
Slappin' 'em down

We're talkin' one hundred!
Two hundred!
Three hundred!

I can see those fighter planes!
I can see those fighter planes!

Across the mud huts where the children sleep
Through the alleys, the quiet city streets
Take the staircase to the first floor
Turn the key, unlock the door
A man breathes into a saxophone... saxophone
And through the walls, we hear the city moan... moan
Outside it's America!

We run... and we run... into the arms...

...Of America?

So she woke up, she woke up from where she was lying still
Said I, I gotta do something about where I'm going
Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night
Singing ha, ha la la la de day
(Ha la la la de day)
Ha la la de day

Sweet the sin, bitter taste in my mouth
I see seven towers, I only see one way out
You gotta cry without weeping, talk without speaking
And scream without raising your voice
You know I took the poison from the poison stream
Then I floated outta here
Singing ha, ha la la la de day
Ha la la la de day
Ha la la de day... yeah

She runs through the streets, with her eyes painted red
Under black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway, she brings me
White gold and pearl stolen from the sea
She is ragin', she is ragin'
And a storm blows up in her eyes
She will... suffer the needle chill
She's running to stand...


Ah!... alle... allelujah!
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah
Halle, halle... hallelujah!

I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls that hold me inside
I wanna reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I wanna feel the sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear without a trace
I wanna take shelter from the poison rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It's all I can do

The city's aflood, and our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind, trampled in dust
I'll show you a place high on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name
Hey you!

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It's all I can do


Ohh ahh ohh, whoa oh ohh ohhh
Ohh ohh ohh, whoa oh ohh ohhh

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It's all I can do

Oh yeah... oh love
I wanna go there with you

Incidentally, I find the segueway from "Please" to "Streets" on the PopMart video to be similarly moving... but that's a post for another day. ;)

Dirty Day, Running To Stand Still and Where The Streets Have No Name can all be viewed on YouTube (couldn't find Bullet The Blue Sky?), but honestly, you're much better off watching the whole uninterrupted sequence on good quality video or DVD. I can also offer an MP3 of Running To Stand Still, but it's far better with the visuals!
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