Friday the 13th. The Centrum in Worcester. The band the Boston Globe called “The hottest ticket in rock.”
The build-up was tremendous, yet nothing compared to what U2 delivered once they took the stage. The blessed few who managed to obtain tickets to this electrically and emotionally charged concert will long remember the night. It started promptly when the Pixies took the stage to open for U2. They played a swirling set of about ten songs to the receptive crowd, including a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On,” which got the audience rocking on their feet. The excitable crowd gave the Pixies a hearty and vocal farewell as the band finished their alternative rock act. However, this enthusiasm only hinted at what the crowd had been containing in anticipation of Ireland’s greatest band.
After the Pixies finished, the Centrum’s visitors could hardly wait to see U2 live in the ninth concert of their North American Zoo TV Tour. Although not greatly hyped like their previous “Rattle and Hum” album tour and film, their newest album, “Achtung Baby,” has nonetheless hit the number one position on the charts. The Zoo TV Tour is concentrating on this new material, such as the hit singles “The Fly” and “Mysterious Ways,” and songs from past multi-platinum albums “The Joshua Tree” and “Rattle and Hum.”
Finally the lights dimmed. The fans erupted at the sight of lead singer Bono Vox and bassist Adam Clayton (who celebrated his birthday on stage), humbly leading the way, followed by guitarist The Edge and drummer, Larry Mullen, Jr. The speakers bolted out the first jackhammer strikes of “Zoo Station” and the party had begun. Of the seven successive cuts which followed from “Achtung Baby,” “Mysterious Ways” created the most energy, both in terms of fan excitement and lighting. The lighting crew shot hundreds of pulsating balls of light around the darkened arena as Bono serenaded the crowd with his dreamy vocals and The Edge danced his guitar chords through the air.
After engaging the fans with “Bad” (a song about a friend’s heroin addiction), which gained momentum with each powerful line, U2 began the placidly compelling ballad, “All I Want Is You.” However, they violently changed their direction after one verse, raging into “Bullet the Blue Sky” with Larry’s drums blazing and pictures of crosses burning on the Zoo TV monitors. Although the monitors complemented the songs throughout the concert with various images, Bono pointed out that “the greatest thing about all this is we don’t need it.”
Unfortunately the concert seemed too short for some. Although it was probably of average duration, the fans hungered for more of this band’s passionately fulfilling music. As they usually do, U2 closed out the show with a dynamic encore, including the love-torn “With or Without You.” The Irishmen concluded with “Love is Blindness,” the title’s words echoing in the hearts of all. n