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Elevation indeed, writes Darryl Morden, as a music-focussed U2 lifted spirits high and wide in Los Angeles.

The heart-shaped stage, which allows several hundred of the ever-faithful inside the perimeter, leaving U2 frontman Bono surrounded on both sides, was an apt metaphor for a concert that's all about giving, not taking - from both the band and the fans.

Entering boldly with house lights up, the band launched into Elevation, the tour's namesake, a track from their acclaimed album of last year, All That You Can't Leave Behind. Then the double-barrelled blast continued with the exuberant ironies of Beautiful Day. Although there was concern at the start of the tour about a riotous general admission floor, the full house, including those on that floor, came together for music that doesn't divide but unites, creating community of shared ideals.

U2 perhaps has never sounded better. Dave 'The Edge' Evans, smiled most of the night on guitar issuing his near-trademark sonic reverberations as well as more delicate string work, complemented by the voice of frontman Bono, who has become quite the soul singer, with falsettoes and evocative phrasing. The rhythm section of bassist Adam Clayton and group founder and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were unerring as the band moved from the often rich and varied textures of their newest material to now-classic epics of rising hope.

The band has left behind the admittedly stunning videoography of the ZOO TV and over-the-top Pop tour trappings. Aside from some clever lighting and film noir-styled video screens, which enhanced rather than detracted, this one's all about those songs - whether reaching back for the propulsive I Will Follow from the band's 1980 debut album Boy, or turning to the heartbeat-driven longings of With Or Without You. For every anthem, including the centerpiece push-and-pull release of Bad, and the sweep of Where The Streets have No Name, there were far more subtle moments as found in songs like Kite and Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, dedicated most nights, including this one, to the late Michael Hutchence of INXS.

Coming off as both charmingly cheeky and rock-star proud and humble, Bono reached out through the evening for the numerous extended hands below him, rolled on his back, stole a kiss from a photo-snapping woman in the inner part of the heart stage, jogged, jumped and wrapped the Edge in a Irish flag tossed onstage for Sunday Bloody Sunday. At night's end he thanked fans for giving him and his mates a great life....

....With probing, lasting songs and a power of performance that has placed them in lineage that can be traced from the likes of The Beatles, Stones and the Who through Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's recent two-year tour, U2 is clearly still a whole other league, with no flying lemons needed, thank you.


Check complete review at www.hollywoodreporter.com

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