Bill Graham in Hot Press
An album of confident excitement, the work of a band completely secure about their powers...
Recorded this year at American and German dates, "Under a Blood Red Sky" profiles U-2 at the precise point in time when the festival stage has just become their natural environment, when they're no longer the second-best band still seeking favours from the headliners' sound crew. It finds them in command, invulnerable with one exception.
An album of confident excitement, the work of a band completely secure about their powers, "Under a Blood Red Sky" registers U-2's pride on arrival but its task is not to map out the route behind. This is necessarily a record of culmination but it shouldn't be mistaken as the complete chronicle.
This live album's timing means that it doesn't record the early reckless confusion (intentionally so!) that characterised U-2's and particularly Bono's initial international campaigns-in-jubilation, when they were careering around the clubs. It taps a more masterful emotion - yet I get my satisfaction searching for the special moments.
This album's also the Edge Orchestra's main feature so far. His execution has been so effortless and his function so accepted that his massive responsibilities are often overlooked. But on "Under a Blood Red Sky," the Edge's ability to ride all the horses - rhythm, lead, and melody - in the U-2 circus, becomes evident and often breathtakingly so.
"Under a Blood Red Sky," the camera pans on a victor's lap of honor. This album closes accounts, clears unfinished business. For their next, will U-2 change the colour of their skies?
(condensed from original review)