Where the Streets Have No Name
Check out more exclusive photos from the show!
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
There's no denying U2's status as one of the world's most popular bands, if not the supreme modern rock act of all time. The irony in that observation is the fact that these trendsetters have been cranking out tunes since the early 1980s, but despite that veteran status, the foursome remains just as relevant as they've always been. Of course, anyone who goes back to the Dublin-based group's origin knows these believers were and continue to be vocal about their Christian faith. In fact, early albums like Boy, October and War were replete with spiritual sentiments and even direct scriptural references that remain amongst the band's most provocative projects to date.
The structure must be seen to be believed, but as indicated in the accompanying photos, the first gig in the Windy City was nothing short of extraordinary. The circular stage allowed everyone around the football field a good view, while screens broadcasted the action to even the highest of rafters. Complete with a track-style catwalk, two rotating ramps that extended above the audience from the main platform, plus a floor-to-ceiling spike that lit up like a lightening bolt to jaw-dropping proportions, the show rivaled previous monstrosities like the Zoo TV Tour and the PopMart Tour (complete with a kitschy disco ball).
Set list spirituality
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For "Pride (In the Name of Love)," the group paid tribute to the peace-keeping efforts of the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr., which was followed by the ever-so-appropriate "MLK." Yet the evening took a true vertical turn as doves filled the jumbo-tron to draw attention to Amnesty International's human rights initiative during "Walk On," which was also loaded with Biblical metaphors and even a few lines of the standard "You'll Never Walk Alone" (previously made famous by everyone from Elvis Presley to the Blind Boys of Alabama).
An encore break was filled with a videotaped message from former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who introduced "One" in correlation with the band's ONE Campaign. That Achtung Baby anthem turned into a perfect platform to encourage fans to reach out to people in need, assisting anyone struggling with AIDS, hunger and other impeding circumstances throughout Africa and around the world.
The iconic guitar riffs to "Where the Streets Have No Name" was undeniably euphoric, while a jam during "Bad" was equally sublime, intertwined with snippets of "40" (taken straight out of Psalms). Along with an electrifying encore of "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)," "With Or Without You" and "Moment of Surrender," the first showing on American soil was absolutely exhilarating, if not an all out spine-chilling awakening.
The legacy lives on
While it remains to be seen how long the band will continue firing on such innovative cylinders, there's no sign of a lull anytime soon. And considering the audience's multi-generational make-up, the band is in no danger of becoming an oldies act that needs to cash in on the nostalgia circuit. Instead, U2 is riding a vibrant creative crest, coupled with an uplifting undercurrent that continues to have tremendous global impact on both musical and social terrains.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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