Category Archives: Music

The Who-Quadrophenia (1973)

5 stars out of 5. Immortal album. Pete Townshend’s masterpiece performed and fully realized by The Who.

Sadness, pain, youthful ambition, teenage and young man angst, Mods, Rockers, nostalgia, depression, alienation, unrequited love, anger, loathing, self-hatred, realization but ultimately Quadrophenia is about incomprehension.

Four individual themes comprise the backbone of the album, each representing a band member. The four standing in for a physical representation of a quad, thus quadrophonic. This is no simple matter of an album being mixed for multichannel sound. These four themes become motifs incorporated into the lead character of Jimmy. They comprise the different aspects of his personality so that Jimmy becomes a quasi-amalgam of Pete, Roger, John and Keith in addition to a throwback to their youth. And it isn’t that each was simply assigned to a person. Each was a relatively accurate description of the band member and comprised an element of Jimmy’s psyche. The idea of a band creating a focused single sound now becomes something more than simple performance and storytelling.

These themes are:

  • A tough guy, a helpless dancer. (“Helpless Dancer” – Roger Daltrey)
  • A romantic, is it me for a moment? (“Is It Me?” – John Entwistle)
  • A bloody lunatic, I’ll even carry your bags. (“Bell Boy” – Keith Moon)
  • A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign o’er me. (“Love Reign O’er Me” – Pete Townshend)

This is a story told through feeling, abstract thought and events rather than relying on straight lyrical storytelling. Although this last element is actually present the lack of reliance represents a massive creative growth from Tommy, incorporating the new musical strength gathered on Live at Leeds, the abandoned Lifehouse project and the furious intelligent roar of Who’s Next. Quadrophenia is typically referred to as a “rock opera”. But it isn’t. (Rock opera is a stupid term anyway. This labeling kept me from listening to Tommy for ages.) It’s a collection of events that happen to one Mod boy with his inner self represented by word and music. One could argue that this is a natural extension of the moments in Tommy where the deaf dumb and blind boy cannot connect to anything in the outside world but can find things inside himself.

The story as-is roughly follows this path: (Sourced from the well done Wikipedia page, as I couldn’t write a Quadrophenia summary that was under 10,000 words.)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrophenia

  • “I Am the Sea/The Real Me” – The opera opens with Jimmy Cooper’s introduction with his four personalities. The listener then gets a quick look at his visits to a psychiatrist, his mother and even the local vicar. Mental security is unfortunately not obtained by the protagonist.
  • “Quadrophenia/Cut My Hair” – Jimmy recalls an argument with his parents that culminated in his leaving home. We also hear a news broadcast mentioning riots in Brighton between the Mods and the Rockers, events at which he was present the previous week.
  • “The Punk and the Godfather” – Jimmy goes to a rock concert (Supposedly The Who themselves). He queues up, pays his money and then decides he is going to see the band backstage as they come out the stage door. Sadly, the group is rude to him. He realises that there is nothing really happening in rock and roll; it is just another thing in his life that has let him down.
  • “I’m One” – Jimmy contemplates how he has not really got much going for him, but at least he has the Mod lifestyle.
  • “The Dirty Jobs” – Suitably disenchanted with his former “religion”, he gets a job as a dustman. Unfortunately, his extremely left-wing views are not appreciated by his workmates and he is forced to pass on to greater things.
  • “Helpless Dancer/Is It in My Head?” – The listener gets a real look at where Jimmy’s aggression comes from, as he switches into one of his multiple personalities (The Tough Guy). Jimmy has a conscience that bites fairly deep. His frustration with the world only makes him angrier than he already is. The listener sees that he also possesses self-doubt; he worries about his own part, and feels that his outlook is clouded by pessimism.
  • “I’ve Had Enough” – Jimmy finally snaps when he sees the girl he likes with one of his friends. In a desperately self-destructive state, he smashes up his scooter and decides to go to Brighton where he had such a good time with his friends chasing Rockers the week before (as recited through the news broadcast earlier in the story).
  • “5.15” – This song recites Jimmy’s train journey down to Brighton, sandwiched between two city gents and notable for the rather absurd number of amphetamines he consumes in order to pass the time. He goes through a not entirely pleasant series of ups and downs as he contemplates the gaudier side of life as a teenager.
  • “Sea and Sand/Drowned” – Arriving at Brighton, Jimmy’s mood heightens. He talks about the rows at home and is a little sarcastic as he recalls the evening on the beach with his former girlfriend. The Mod scene is already falling apart and all he can do is stay in Brighton just to remember the days when the Mods came to Brighton; it was only three weeks ago, but he is already living in the past. It is here that Jimmy contemplates killing himself by drowning in the water.
  • “Bell Boy” – He meets a former Ace Face who now holds the position as a bell boy at the very hotel the Mods tore up. He looks on Jimmy with a mixture of pity and contempt. The two argue, as Jimmy feels the Ace Face has “sold out”. Jimmy is now feeling that everything, even the Mod lifestyle, has let him down.
  • “Doctor Jimmy” – Jimmy begins to damage himself so badly on drugs and alcohol that he gets to the point where he is so desperate that he will take a closer look at himself. This part of the story shows the lunatic within him. The chorus line “Doctor Jimmy and Mr. Jim” is an ambiguous reference to “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“, which closely links to the multiple personality theme running through the story.
  • “The Rock/Love, Reign O’er Me” – Jimmy steals a boat and takes it to a rock in the middle of the sea. Here, when he comes down off his high, he finds the boat has drifted away and that he is now stranded, alone and forgotten. As a storm rages around him, Jimmy has an epiphany. After all the different people he has been, he finally knows for sure who he is: “himself”.

The band is ferocious as usual, but carefully restrained so that the performances become almost titanic. This goes especially for Keith Moon, whose drumming becomes so marked in depth that his pounding becomes a thunder of toms. Just listen to his use of the toms and hi-hat and you can hear a definite difference in his playing technique. In addition he blends in the snare and cymbal effortlessly so that his drumming both propels and blends into the sonic landscape. Townshend’s ferocious guitar fades in and out of the acoustic riffs being ripped out. John Entwistle is almost invisibly guiding the band.

Roger Daltrey’s vocal is the most emotional on any Who record. It’s honestly his greatest performance.

Then we come to the cover and packaging. The original LP was in a gatefold that housed an entire photo book inside. This book of photos chronicled and accompanied the entire story of Jimmy in grainy, stark black and white.  The full image and size of the book (nearly as big as the 12″ LP) really add to the overall experience and give a visual to go along with the highly detailed material.  The photo that features the band coming out of the Odeon seems to correlate that they are the band Jimmy is disappointed in. The cover is stark, simple but revealing of the band’s construction and influence on Jimmy. (Their heads are in the mirrors of the scooter, perhaps a reference to the Tommy cover?) It is an ominous thing to behold, just as the album itself hits you on the head with a concrete block on the first listen. Then you get to the rear cover with an empty sea in B&W surrounded by the title on all sides. And at the bottom is Jimmy’s motor scooter sinking into the ocean.

I’ve never really listened to much of anything post-Quadrophenia because it didn’t seem like the same band. In recent interviews, Pete has said something similar because after Quad, many things changed. They really weren’t firing on all cylinders like the 65-73 period. This isn’t to say that their 74-82 material is bad, but it certainly is the work of different people at different stages in their lives. (And material that needs reconsideration, myself included.)

The mixing of this album has always been a source of contention. As per the album’s title, the intent was to mix and release this record in quadrophonic sound. (4.0 channel) This was such a new and innovative technology at the time that it was still in the early process of becoming readied. Unfortunately the band’s record label had sided with an inferior technology and the quad mix that was produced didn’t meet anyone’s expectations most of all Townshend. So, the engineer and Pete hurriedly cobbled together a plain stereo version that was released in 1973. This is what we’ve listened to all these years, and honestly it gives the album character. All of the great Who albums have been partial failures in some way. This is what makes The Who more human, because they can fail and because they can screw up  allows the music to seem all the more real to the average listener. It is the attempt to do something different that becomes important, and not the definition of the project.

The sound of the record floats in and out of the inter-song ambient pieces filled with sound elements of the crashing waves and rain combined with the four themes which we are teased with just as if they were in our own minds. The original mix is better in this state because it suggests at quadrophonic but isn’t. This stereo image with added elements thus suggests to the listener the state of being “bleedin Quadrophenic”. (Source: original LP liner story.) It flows as a cohesive whole from Side to side, LP to LP. And once finished, you only want to begin again and drown. In cold water.

Quadrophenia is just as if not more relevant today than when it was originally released. Perhaps this is because it so deeply connects with the emotion of the listener. In an increasingly homogenized and digital world, Jimmy seems more like a real person than a nostalgic agonized Mod. Quadrophenia is the definitive album of teen angst and rebellion because it doesn’t make itself to be anything than honest. It accurately reflects the individual ups and downs of being at that stage in your life and all of the insecurities that are included along with the emotional baggage. And they never truly go away. Thus, Quad is one for the ages. It is everything learned, experienced and conceived by Townshend from Tommy and Lifehouse combined with the get it done survival aspect of Who’s Next with the primal frustration of Live at Leeds.

Throw your scooter into the sea and lie on The Rock to watch your life bleed away time.

Love Reign O’er Me.

In 1996, the album was remastered for the band’s full catalog reissue. This was released as a two disc CD with notable sonic “improvements” most notably clearer and more upfront vocals. While this may have pleased Roger, it doesn’t have the same character of the original album. In addition, there is decreased dynamic range and several of the original effects have been changed or replaced altogether.

As you may have guessed this review was brought on by the release of the Director’s Cut boxset this week. The set features a newly remastered mix, Pete’s original demos, a nice hardcover book, 8 songs mixed in 5.1 surround but ultimately is just as pointless as last year’s Live at Leeds mega boxset. The album is a new version of the remastered album, horribly compressed as far as audio fidelity is concerned. So that’s out. The demos are a great bonus, but the big draw of a surround mix after 38 years of waiting is limited to only 8 songs. Why you ask? They could only find 8 multi-track master tapes! The book is nice, but ultimately this is an overpriced wasted opportunity. And I still want it. Fuuuuuuuuuuuu!

Nothing beats the original UK Track LP A-1 B-1 stamper 1st pressing. There are needledrops of the UK that are heavenly. The US original and German Track pressings are close but not equal. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs did a Gold CD version, and there were 180 gram and 200 gram LPs by Classic Records. I haven’t heard the Classic, but I’ve heard some of the MFSL. To my ears, I side with the original issues and my glossy near mint German Track is the best thing until I get a UK original of my own. This German LP was the first I ever bought. Years ago, I didn’t even know Quadrophenia except that it was a Who album. That dark ominous cover just spoke volumes and I had to have it. $15 for one of the immortal albums. Skip the Director’s cut, and save your $130 for a UK Track original.

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R.E.M.-Murmur (1983)

Immortal album-5 out of 5 stars…but you didn’t need me to tell you that did you?

The biggest surprises going straight from Chronic Town to Murmur are the sheer amount of self-assurance present on this debut LP and a sense of disconnected melancholia. Not to mention the murk. Starting this record is diving headfirst into the trestle on the front cover. You get buried in its murkiness.

(Side 1): This album version of “Radio Free Europe” lacks the immediate punch of the original Hib-tone version, but is essential to establishing Murmur‘s odd blend of passion and mysticism. “Pilgrimage” is a two headed cow. “Laughing” is precisely that. “Talk About the Passion” grows on the listener, especially the line “Not every one can carry the weight of the world”. “Moral Kiosk” picks up the pace with…well what exactly is so much more attractive in a Moral Kiosk? Who knows? Freaking great bits of nonsense for 3:32. “Perfect Circle” is absolutely gorgeous. Whatever it does actually mean (if there is one) it generates such a sense of elegiac loss that it breaks you up for the end of Side 1.

(Side 2): “Catapult” is another great song that has no possible defined meaning. “Sitting Still” is one of the best things ever penned. “9-9” is gloriously conversation fear complete with one of the most beautiful guitar sounds ever: Peter Buck’s angry plucking in the verses. “Shaking Through” is the musical equivalent of its title. Literally, that’s what always sprung to my mind. MUSICAL INTERLUDE (remember these? I miss R.E.M.’s) “We Walk” is a marvelous semi-march about something. Then you have those combustion sounds occurring marvelously throughout. They’re actually slowed balls on a pool table. “West of the Fields” is a great song that the band had recently re-discovered on their Accelerate tour. This closer has a real sense of menace that foreshadows the dirges of “Oddfellows Local 151” and “I Remember California” but with a great back beat and a truly knockout bridge section that I’m still trying to decipher.  “The animals. How strange. (or housetrained?) and I got nothing else…..but neither does Michael…. 😉

The production team of Mitch Easter and Don Dixon recorded and mixed the band just as they wanted to sound. It’s this particular brew of folk, punk, geekiness, silliness, melancholy, pretension that comes across with an eager desire to be played repeatedly. This is why we fell in love with their sound.

These early albums are such polished versions of their best live-polished tunes. With R.E.M. it has always been about the whole sound-not just the poem or story set up by the lyrics. You yourself have to make up your own interpretation. It’s your responsibility not the band’s.

EDITIONS: Let me say this, if there was any album to ever get on its original vinyl LP…this would be it. Murmur was one of my first ever vinyl purchases (To be exact-Wax n’ Facts in Atlanta many many years ago.) and when I bought the standard CD later on I was stunned to hear differences. Even to my young untrained ears something was missing. What was missing was depth, dynamics, punchiness, bass, high end-all the life and murk I had so adored was just stripped away.

First CD I ever got rid of. Gladly.

In 1992, all the IRS era albums were released in Europe with bonus tracks as “the Vintage Years” collection. These bonus tracks are compiled from B-sides and live recordings that are mostly available elsewhere-especially on the R.E.M. In the Attic compilation which is essentially all of the bonuses on one disc. (Save for a few still randomly on some of these reissues.)

In 1995, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs released their editions of both Murmur and Reckoning on 24 carat Gold CD and LP. Their mastering used the original master tapes with no messing about. The resulting releases had a tremendous increase in the bass and low end. They said that they were stunned as much as we were. They just put in the source and simply were bowled over by how much had not been in the original release.

To give an example of how much additional low end and bass are present in the MFSL editions, simply play Murmur with the bass knob turned up all the way. It’s really that substantial. Personally I’m not really a fan of it, but am glad it’s out there. (If this much additional information is turned up in MFSL’s upcoming vinyl reissue of Lifes Rich Pageant then I will be beyond happy. That is an album which needs a bit more detail.)

The original IRS LP went through two different editions. The first was no# 70614 in 1983. Later in early 1984 the second edition no#70014 was pressed due to a higher demand for the album. The albums are identical except for the catalog number. Both are Sterling cuts pressed on translucent brown virgin vinyl. (Again, it might be Quiex vinyl but I’m not sure.)

In 2008, Murmur was released as a Deluxe Edition with brand new remastering and a bonus live show from the era. It was also quietly released as a remastered 180 gram LP. The remastering was essentially a balance between the original mix and MFSL sound. Unfortunately both the remaster and live show suffered from compression for the current market. (Search: Loudness War) I already had the live show on a bootleg copy and to my ears it actually sounds better than the official version. This was the first in a series of reissues for all the IRS albums, and unfortunately all have suffered from brickwalling compression-most notably on Fables of the Reconstruction.

To end on, I still play air guitar/drums to this record. I can’t help it.

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R.E.M.-Chronic Town (1982)

Immortal EP-5 out of 5 stars

Ahh..here we go. This is an EP which took everything that was established in music…and simply threw it out the window. This is just a recording of four guys who decided, “hey what the heck let’s do what we want” with all the reckless abandon of a record store clerk. (Oh wait, Peter Buck was one. Go figure. 😉

What Chronic Town does so well is convey this sense of dreamlike mesmerism. Although the band name was just picked at random out of a dictionary, it fits like nothing else could. Sure, at this point R.E.M. was playing anywhere they could and earning all of the wondrous perks of constant low-end touring, but their early recordings have this odd dichotomy between jangling, punchy rhythms and almost a hibernation trance. It’s as if we’re all falling into REM sleep while listening to these records. Or maybe I’ve just put way too much thought into these things and should shut up and review the record.

For the record: I don’t claim to understand or know what Michael Stipe is meaning or saying. It’s just better that way. Don’t try it otherwise, you’ll end up missing the song and making your head hurt.

(Side 1) CHRONIC TOWN:If the opening of “Wolves, Lower” doesn’t grab you in any way…then I have no hope for you at all. “Gardening at Night” has an almost detached feeling, as the vocals have a slight echo which further displaces them from the punchy instrumental. (I think I might like the different vocal mix a bit more.) “Carnival of Sorts” is a semi-ode to hoboes jumping boxcars. And for some reason you kinda want to dance about.

(Side 2) POSTER TORN: “1,000,000” features more unintelligbleisms with the repeated refrain “I could live a million years” jumping out at the ears as the only really clear line you can make out. “Stumble” is about stumbling through the yard….and teeth…sorta.

In essence what you hold in your hands is the band discovering recording, the studio and its uses, effects, and in a sense what their recorded output should or would be. Here they were free to experiment and discover exactly what they wanted to do on a record. So they stumbled through the yard some more. The hiss at the opening of “Wolves” is mirrored by the hiss at the end of “Stumble” so that your journey is circular and you end where you began with maybe some further glimpse into what the hell it all means. Or not.

Doesn't Peter look nice and creepy?

Note: never try to clarify early period R.E.M. lyrics with internet searches. You spend your time either laughing or being pissed at what people come up with.

EDITIONS: you get a choice between CD, Cassette and LP. I first heard the cassette after picking it up in a cheapy bin. And let’s move on because if there’s anything I hate it’s bad EQ’d tapes….the CD edition is contained on the CD release of Dead Letter Office. And while it may be the easiest way to obtain these tracks, you get no CT artwork and lose all of the punchiness and depth that makes this recording so special. Skip it.

So…moving on to LP. My favored copy is the original IRS label pressing. There were three versions, one is the very original with custom gargoyle labels and then the second more mass produced issue with just the standard silver IRS label. The third has no barcode on the back, IRS labels and is on regular black vinyl. The second one is what I have and they seem to be the same pressing, just different labels. The first two are pressed on translucent brown vinyl (Just hold it up to the light to see what I mean!). It may be Quiex vinyl, but no one’s ever confirmed it. However, it plays dead quiet and is one of the best sounding LPs I own. (Along with all the other IRS R.E.M. albums)

There was a new pressing for Record Store Day a few years back on clear blue vinyl. It’s a faithful reproduction, but both the artwork and sound lose detail from the original. It’s a nice collectible, but just save your $ and go for the original. (Check your local record shop or ebay, they usually turn up in the $10-15 range)

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Garbage (1995)

Review: Here is an album that completely hits you from left field. Unexpected, ironic, murky, dark, gloomy, slinky, inventive, industrial, sonically challenging, and surprisingly emotional.

If you want to know this band-start here. For those familiar with Garbage, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with this disc. You’ll find that there is no filler and the songs will stick with you for several days. It’s impossible to put down.

The brains behind all of this is the famed producer Butch Vig (Nevermind, Siamese Dream) and what this record really does is carve out its own new territory sonically. It resides in this quasi-technical dark cave somewhere where machines ruminate with emotions that struggle to surface above the mechanical oppression.

This emotion is the hidden weapon of Garbage. Here for ten tracks, this is slinkily spouted by Shirley Manson until track 11 which acts as a breather from the overall mood. In fact, this is a breather before the complete 180 degree closer “Milk” which is completely emotionally driven. This record plays with your mind in a good way.

This is an album that I became obsessed with after the first listen. I didn’t really pick up anything else for a few days.

“I’m Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl” are the two most notable tracks to most people but earlier singles “Vow” and “Queer” also charted well. “Stupid Girl” is constructed over a drum sample from “Train in Vain” and the odd thing is that it actually works. I personally hate samples and only will hear the original song when a sample is used. It was only after reading an article somewhere that I noticed the other sample of “Orange Crush” buried in the song. And I’m the biggest R.E.M. fan on the planet.

If Garbage had continued in this vein instead of venturing into electronic music (as so many artists did around the turn of the century) for 1998’s Version 2.0, I think they would have grown exponentially. To this reviewer, their successive efforts have been very worthwhile but ultimately do not match the substance of their debut. The new album from the reformed Garbage is supposedly due out later this year. I really hope it can get back to the band’s roots.

Editions: I own the original Almo Sounds  CD and it doesn’t hold a candle to a needledrop of the Almo US LP. The slight murkiness and darkness hinted at on the CD is fully present on the vinyl. Depth increases, and depth is absolutely essential to this album. And talk about sounding punchy!  The UK had a 7″ boxset of the album which should even be better sonically speaking, but of course this would entail changing sides every song. Note: when compiling the Absolute Garbage greatest hits disc, Butch Vig found that the masters for this album were missing and had to restore some old deteriorated 16bit safety files in order to save it. So the vinyl editions are the highest quality sources available. Get ’em before they’re all gone. Sad.

Verdict: A stunning 5.0 out of 5. Perfect sequencing, great memorable songs, inventive sonics, great art.

One of the best albums of the 90’s and gladly put into the Immortal category. Three words: GET THIS ALBUM!

The CD back cover simply has a photo of the band standing in a dark urban city street. The vinyl has the real photo on the back-the one that reveals the sillier side of this band and reminds the listener that we’re only human:

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INXS: Self-titled (1980)

Imagine a New Wave album from Australia. You’d think that’s all this would be and that you’d only get through a few minutes.

Wrong.

What is contained on INXS’s debut album is really a blueprint or loose formation of what their sound later became on their breakthrough records in the later 80’s. While not the most daring or inventive of albums it;s really one that grooves to the end with no real filler. It’s a formative album plain and simple. The things fans came to love begin to take shape and the amount of their later sound present is surprising. Sadly, this is one of the successful 80’s acts that fell by the commercial wayside needlessly.

A good, solid 3.0 out of 5. Recommended for big INXS fans who are wanting more. Casual listeners should try other INXS albums first.

Edition: The album is now out of print. My review copy was a stock US ATCO pressed LP that was nice and punchy in the right places. I don’t think the single CD release from 1990 will beat it.

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Album review-JET Get Born (2003)

Album: Get Born

Artist: Jet

Editions reviewed: CD, Rhino 180 gram vinyl

The key word for this record is “fun”. Jet was heavily criticized for perhaps lifting too much of their sound from other bands-everyone from the Stones, AC/DC, Iggy Pop,  and the list goes on.

But what art is completely original? The thing to do when listening to this album is to simply chuck all of that out the window. Once that has been achieved, take a look at Get Born.

The album consistently rocks and holds up even in the almost obligatory ballads. The hit singles “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and “Cold Hard Bitch” aren’t the only uptempo tracks. Sequencing ins pretty well split between these and the slower moodier pieces. These convalesce into the penultimate track “Lazy Gun” which then leads into the simple closer “Timothy”.

Unfortunately, this seems like a direction that the band wasn’t interested in following. The harder edge of this album was absent on their later efforts Shine On and Shaka Rock. I actually saw them play with The Vines in support of this album, and they rocked even harder. It would be nice to see a more heartfelt followup to Get Born.

The original CD wasn’t really anything to write home about. The mastering is up front, compressed and not very detailed. The Rhino vinyl I found on Amazon.com improves in these areas to a small degree. The detail has been increased, and there is more breathing room for the music. The vinyl itself is 180 gram heavyweight, and comes packaged in a card stock sleeve inside the jacket. There was a limited vinyl release in the UK at the time of the album’s release. That particular edition is pressed on two white LPs and is said to have much better sound fidelity and mastering than either of these. Currently it is out of print, so the Rhino is the way to go to hear this album. Both CD and Vinyl are just above $10, so the vinyl is an easy recommendation.

And did I mention that Billy Preston plays on this album?

At the end of the day a strong 3.5 out of 5. Recommended as an Essential 2000’s album.

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U2 360 Tour: Nashville TN July 2nd 2011

The Claw descends on Nashville

U2 came to Nashville July 2nd for the first time since 1981. Bono addressed this fact at the 100th 360 show by embarrassingly admitting the fact and introducing the band as four Irish lads.

What followed was a relatively intimate show. Because the Vanderbilt stadium could only accommodate the stage in such a close proximity to everyone it gave an overall sense of shared experience. I was located up on the right side of the stadium on one of the long benches that were supposedly “seats”. I don’t think I ever sat down for the entire show.

Setlist:(courtesy U2gigs.com)

    1. Even Better Than The Real Thing
    2. The Fly
    3. Mysterious Ways / Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) (snippet)
    4. Until The End Of The World
    5. I Will Follow
    6. Get On Your Boots
    7. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / The Wanderer (snippet)
    8. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
    9. Beautiful Day / Space Oddity (snippet)
    10. Elevation
    11. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
    12. Miss Sarajevo
    13. Zooropa
    14. City Of Blinding Lights
    15. Vertigo
    16. Miss You (snippet) / I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight / Discothèque (snippet) / Psycho Killer (snippet) / Life During Wartime (snippet)
    17. Sunday Bloody Sunday
    18. Scarlet
    19. Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone (snippet)

encore(s):

  1. One
  2. Amazing Grace (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
  3. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  4. With Or Without You
  5. Moment of Surrender
  6. All I Want Is You

The band came out and leapt straight into Achtung Baby era classics that got the mood into the stratosphere. They’ve been rediscovering these tracks for this whole seventh leg. On one hand it could be the band rediscovering their mindsets from  twenty years ago. On the other it is a brilliant marketing ploy to  commemorate the upcoming 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Achtung Baby. By playing these songs it subconsciously gets the core audience re-interested in that era. Now Zooropa is being thrown in the reissue scheme. I have to say that I loved it’s inclusion in the setlist. (and judging from the rest of the audience’s reaction I was relatively alone in that.)

After the opening Achtung salvo, the momentum was kept up with “I Will Follow” (which was has been about the only survivor of the early days as far as live performances. Now I find that the next show had “Out of Control”. Argh!) Then began the ongoing “Rockers by the numbers” with a particularly uninspired run through of “Get On Your Boots”. This was the first sign of a show that was just passing on the name value. What eventually overcame this was the intimacy of the venue and the band’s reaction. “The Wanderer” was a surprise to all (although I kicked myself for not thinking about it due to the Nashville connection.) since the band has only played it once before.

Every major hit song was as if it was played because it had to be. Then on the more obscure tracks the performances came alive. It was rather obvious that the three songs from No Line on the Horizon had been designated No Line on the Restroom. The show was occasionally hit or miss but the band pulled it out in the end. You can tell that none of the guys really know what direction to head in, but the whole thing just feels more alive and organic than my experience on the Vertigo tour in 2005. (Part of that wasn’t the performance but due to the fact that I was seated behind the stage and had an obstructed view of everything but The Edge’s sea of effect pedals.)

Moment of Surrender was a fantastic closer. It was much more effective than I thought it would be at ending such a stadium show. But..contrary to what the audience, myself, and the band thought-there was one more song to play. Adam, Larry, and Edge had begun to walk off the stage while Bono pulled a guy out of the audience onstage. He then sang “All I Want Is You” while the lucky guy played guitar and dedicated it to his wife. The band did a simultaneous “what is Bono doing this time” look at each other and began to come in on the song. Edge on piano, Larry, and Adam had to even switch to the right bass.  Finally, as the song ended Bono gave the man his guitar! Now that’s a concert moment.

I think that sums up the show pretty nicely. Now only eight shows remain of the largest selling tour in history. Hah! U2 finally beat the Stones!

Highlights: Achtung Baby tracks, I Will Follow, The Wanderer, Stay, Zooropa, Discotheque, Scarlet, Hold Me Thrill Me, Moment of Surrender, All I Want Is You

Even though I still hope for a setlist devoted entirely to the Steve Lilywhite days (we got Scarlet this time and that was a major shock) I still can’t believe the band played “Hold Me Thrill Me”!  That has got to be one of if not the great lost U2 song. Definitely a candidate for the “Great Lost Song” series. I’ve even made a outspoken U2 hater like the band because of that one track. A great could have been for a Zooropa follow-up. Freaking brilliant rock song. Still magic.

And that is the Larry Mullen Band.

Then:

Now:

And they’ve never left us. Their heart is still on their sleeve.

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Filed under Concert Review, Music, U2