Where the Streets Have No Name

By Andy_Argyrakis
Posted: Tue, 09/22/2009 - 15:11

album promo image for 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.

Stadium-sized faith
Though the group went on to achieve major mainstream success, it never stopped singing about faith in some form or another, which is still evident on its latest 360 Tour. During the North American leg's opening night at Solider Field in Chicago, Bono and his longtime buddies The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. provided the ultimate inspirational revival, backed by one of the most massive productions to ever hit the road.

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
Even more astounding than the bells and whistles was the band's actual performance, which included the raucous opening thunder clashes of "Breathe" and elevating examples like "Beautiful Day" and the new "Magnificent" (off the recent record No Line on the Horizon). Bono and The Edge brought fans back to church a la Rattle and Hum for a gospel-infused acoustic take on "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," while also dusting off the rarely performed "The Unforgettable Fire," which also mirrored the group's reflective roots.

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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
As the band bowed for its final curtain call and retired for the night (only to resume at the same venue the following evening, followed by tour dates throughout the remainder of autumn), U2 brought fans of all faiths together. In presenting the utmost of excellence on all levels, the group provided a promising platform, intermingled with a good, old-fashioned – yet technologically ahead of its time – rock n' roll show.

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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