U2 are still performing in the name of love writes Alan Niester of the Toronto Globe and Mail, of the first Elevation stop in Toronto.
So where were the Trabants, those crappy East German compact cars that U2 had suspended over bug-eyed audiences during the Zoo TV tour? Or the giant lemon that spewed forth U2 members like so many sour seeds during the Pop Mart tour? Or the banks of televisions, or the giant golden arches, or any of the other props that accented the Irish rockers' stadium tours over the past decade?
Gone now, because while U2's most recent tours revolved around music and spectacle (all the better for the giant stadiums they've been playing in over the last decade) the current Elevation Tour 2001 is mostly just about music, a relatively stripped-down performance to complement the music on the band's newest release, All That You Can't Leave Behind, and the smaller halls they've chosen to play.
Not that they still couldn't pack giant outdoor venues. All That You Can't Leave Behind has amassed worldwide sales of over 8 million copies, and this tour included four sold-out nights in Chicago and two (at 22,000 attendees apiece) here at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. But given the excess of the past few tours and constant musical experimentation, U2 has decided on a less-is-more approach.
Last night's performance marked the first in nearly two weeks, the band having carefully scheduled its appearances around last week's birth of singer Bono's fourth child. But while rust never sleeps, there was no evidence of corrosion last night. This was a highly emotional, high-energy romp that had audience members singing out loud both during and after the show.
To emphasize the low-tech nature of the event, the show was played on a relatively unadorned stage surrounded by a heart-shaped ramp that allowed Bono and guitarist Dave (the Edge) Evans to venture far out into the audience. There were four video screens, but in keeping with the show's simple approach, the close-ups of band members were broadcast in black and white.
Much of the show centred around the recent album, with the anthemic Elevation and soaring Beautiful Day as the opening offerings.