July 21st, 2011 2:55am

Ridiculous Voices

U2 @ New Meadowlands Stadium 7/20/2011

Even Better Than the Real Thing / The Fly / Mysterious Ways / Until the End of the World / I Will Follow / Get On Your Boots / Magnificent / I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Stay (Faraway, So Close!) / Beautiful Day / Elevation / Pride (In the Name of Love) / Miss Sarajevo / Zooropa / City of Blinding Lights / Vertigo / I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight – Discotheque / Sunday Bloody Sunday / Scarlet / Walk On // One – Hallelujah / Where the Streets Have No Name /// Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me / With or Without You / Moment of Surrender / Out of Control

I wrote a full review of this show for Rolling Stone. Let’s talk about “Zooropa.”

U2 “Zooropa”

“Zooropa” is as close as U2 has ever come to expressing their artistic philosophy in song. They are true believers in music as a communicative medium that can work on a massive, global scale. When Bono sings “skip the subway, let’s go to the overground / get your head out of the mud, baby,” he means it as an indictment of every talented artist who shrinks from the possibility of engaging with a large audience. While I can certainly understand the point of view of such artists, I’m very inclined to agree with Bono on this in a broader sense. I genuinely believe that challenging, imaginative artists should push their ideas as far into the mainstream as possible rather than retreating to the margins. When Bono sings this part, he sounds heroic. The music swells to an anthem like many U2 songs before, but it’s still has an odd, slightly detached feeling. I think that climax is very well-earned in this piece, in part because I think this pledge to “dream out loud” is genuinely courageous, even if it sounds a bit corny.

It’s perhaps a bit ironic that this was the only song in this concert where U2 themselves were barely visible to the audience. The band performed within a cone of cascading lights and words, a visual set piece that countered the indifference of some audience members who didn’t recognize a relatively obscure album track. At several other points in the show, Bono did his “mugging directly into a camera at close range” trick. I couldn’t help but think that maybe that move should’ve been reserved for “Zooropa,” a song that could have benefited from a bit of eye contact.

Buy it from Amazon.

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