It was with great subtlety and delicacy that U2 quietly returned to the world stage tonight.
Well, not quite.
The Irish super-band re-launched their bombastic 360 Tour earlier tonight in Turin, Italy, to the whoops and hollers of 50,000+ onlookers. Their earlier North American leg, that was set to run through June and July, had to be canceled earlier this year, owing to Bono’s entirely crap back. They’ve since been re-scheduled for summer 2011, while the band continues their original European dates. Possible concerts in Australia are anticipated for the end of this year.
Signor Bono was back in “fighting form” true to his word, sporting a less-ink-infested more natural ‘do and ugly stylin’ new sunnies. Hard to tell if he’s adjusted his stage-spaz antics, but as you can tell from the photos, Theatrical Emoting is very much still in place (duh), with he and the band blitzing their way through a couple new tunes (including one written for the Glastonbury date they had to pull out of back in June), and another excellent slow number called “North Star” (which may or may not be on some possible-we-don’t-really-know-don’t-ask-us-well-it’s-actually-four-oh-maybe-not-album).
Tunes from last year’s No Line On the Horizon included “Magnificent” and “I Know I’ll Go Crazy (If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight)” while old chestnuts like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “One” were performed along with aughties audience faves “Vertigo” and “City of Blinding Lights”. Nineties awesomeness “Miss Sarajevo” and “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” were performed also, and The Edge was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” for Sunday, when the guitarist will be blowing out 49 candles.
The “claw” stage was, as ever, a gorgeous mix of colors and effects, with the cone-like wrap-around video screen acting as a kind of weird visual filter that squirts the wrong way -that is (you dirty lot), it portrays images with all kinds of textures, not pretty but rather rough, skewed, distorted, imperfect. U2: Makin’ You Think Since 1980 – while blowing your eardrums/eyeballs/heart out, or, alternately, irritating you to little bits and pieces and making you shout rude things whenever you see wraparound shades. Either way, I think a strong reaction’s probably the point, and always has been.
Still, judging from the oodles of breathlessly-typed Italian comments across various sites (followed by a slew of “!!”s), I think it’s fair to say things went okay (maybe?), though it should be noted, the frenzy of excitement around the re-launch of the tour would put any degree of criticism straight into the bin anyway. This past week found hundreds of people camping outside the Stadio Olimpico, recording rehearsals and trying to get a glimpse of their impish idols. (Oh, and if you need proof as to why you don’t want to marry or date a rock star, go here.)
The next few weeks will see the band in Germany, Finland, Greece, Turkey and Portugal, among others, before returning to Italy to wrap up their European jaunt on October 8th. Let’s hope that German engineering holds out.