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'In the end music is a kind of sacrament; it's not just about airplay or chart positions.'

'At one point, U2 planned to open shows on their Elevation world tour by immediately barraging the audience with everything they had up their sleeves: all spotlights blazing, four individual screens - one for each band member - showing themselves high above their heads, the video wall rising up behind them.

'Reveal all the firepower,' Bono says in the May issue of Rolling Stone magazine. 'Show how the trick would be done.'

'Then they had a simpler, better idea. On March 24th, at the National Car Rental Center in Fort Lauderdale, U2 casually walked onstage, in what passes as everyday clothes when you're in an Irish rock band, and stood there with the house lights on. The first night, it took them a while to organize themselves - 'Kind of doing the laundry...it felt like an age,' Bono would later reflect - and then they careered into the song Elevation, the lights still up. For so straightforward a gesture, it was unexpectedly moving......'


In a lengthy piece on the opening of Elevation 2001, writer Chris Heath talks to U2 about their thinking behind the current tour. Of the house-lights full-on opening, Edge explains, 'We just thought, 'Let's try it and see what happens. 'It did seem to make a point in a very nice way that the event was going to be somehow more about just the band, so to speak, without the trappings. The music and the people and the venue.'

Of the heart-shaped walkway and stage design, he explains, 'It puts you far closer than you could ever have imagined before to an audience. That's what you thrive on when you're playing live.'

And of Bono's opening night fall from grace - into the arms of the Americans, Edge admits that, general admission controversy notwithstanding, 'It is quite funny, that the only person who was in any danger of getting hurt was Bono.'


Later, catching up with Bono in Atlanta when he has had time to reflect on the opening shows, Bono remarks to Heath at the 'good vibrations' of the tour start.

'I don't know what that is, but it feels like God walking through the room, and it feels like a blessing, and in the end, music is a kind of sacrament; it's not just about airplay or chart positions.'


Read the whole story in the May edition of Rolling Stone.

Check other U2 stories at RollingStone.com

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