Pillbox

U2 rocks the Mellon Arena

Rock band U2 has spent a large part of its 29-year career on the road, performing for sell-out crowds from New York City to New Zealand. Now veterans of the road and masters of their craft, the members of U2 have learned how to make their music more fresh, relevant, and meaningful than ever. After the confetti dropped, the champagne bottles popped, and the lights flashed peace signs, religious symbols, and flags of every country in the world, U2 had proven, as usual, that they are at the top of their game.

As the lights dimmed and the crowd went wild, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. broke into the open riffs of ?City of Blinding Lights.? Amidst the rain of confetti, lights, and cheers, Bono emerged in the middle of the arena, arms raised as he blew kisses to the crowd. It was going to be an awesome night, and the crowd knew it.

?Who?s ready for a Spanish lesson?? Bono shouted as the band broke into ?Vertigo,? a back-to-basics rock song with crunchy guitars and heart-pounding bass lines (you might have heard this song on iPod commercials), which led straight into ?Elevation,? another new song in the band?s rotation. After the first three songs, I was a little nervous that it would be a tour devoted to mostly new material. My fears were quickly put to rest when Bono began singing a cappella the opening lines to ?I Still Haven?t Found What I?m Looking For.? As the crowd began to sing along, the lights grew brighter and brighter, bringing the song to a pounding, glorious climax as Bono and company
barreled their way through the edgy chorus.

Accompanying the music and extravagant stage setup ? a circular platform that extended through the entire floor section of the venue (you can be sure that this promoted plenty of strutting), a lighting rig that could keep the entire city of Pittsburgh well lit, and movie screens above the stage ? were Bono?s charged political and cultural messages. During ?Miss Sarajevo,? Bono blindfolded himself with a piece of cloth that had COEXIST written across it. Shining on the lights behind Bono were a cross, a Star of David, and other major religious symbols.

After belting through old hits like ?Sunday Bloody Sunday? and the legendary ?Where the Streets Have No Name,? Bono asked that the crowd to pull out their cell phones in attempt to ?turn the Mellon Arena into the Milky Way.? The house lights were turned off and the stage lights glowed red; with the white spurts of light waving back and forth in eager anticipation, Bono spoke briefly about the ONE campaign, which Bono started in an effort to ?make poverty history.? He was able to weave in and out of songs by using his political messages as transition points. ?By 2008,? Bono said, ?more than five million people will have joined ONE. And that?s more than the NRA, ladies and gentlemen.? Naturally, Bono led the band into the fabulous ?One,? with flags of every country scrolling through the sheet of lights that came down behind the band.

The band briefly left the stage, leaving the crowd in eager anticipation of at least another glimpse of the biggest rock band in the world. Re-emerging from backstage were Bono and The Edge, who performed ?The First Time? as a duo, with The Edge on acoustic guitar. Always humble about their rock status, the group then asked a die-hard fan to play acoustic guitar on ?Party Girl.? Bono?s face showed a slight apprehension as the lanky, disheveled fan strapped up his guitar. But after The Edge and the lucky fan strummed through the opening chords, Bono?s growl turned into a wide smile. ?I think this is going to turn out just fine,? he said, much to the delight of the crowd.

After queuing up a drum machine over the loudspeakers, Bono and the group closed out the first encore with ?With or Without You,? leaving the crowd, as expected, begging for more. The group came back once again to perform ?All Because of You? and ?Yahweh.? As the hour became late and the older crowd either went home to bed or sat down to mend their ailing knees, the ever-youthful group belted out one last cry of hope in ?40.? Bassist Adam Clayton switched with guitarist The Edge as Bono belted, with every drop of hope and optimism left in his body, ?I waited patiently for the Lord/He inclined and heard my cry/He brought me up out of the pit/Out of the miry clay/He set my feet upon a rock/And made my footsteps firm/Many will see and hear/I will sing, sing a new song.?

As U2 continues to conquer the world, they leave in their path millions ? billions? ? of fans, worldwide adulation, and political, cultural, and religious unity. In the future, well, let?s just hope they keep doing what they?re doing. ?cause hell, whatever it is, they?re doing it right.