U2 End U.S. 360 Tour on High Note in Pittsburgh
U2 played the last American, and second-to-last overall show of their 360 tour last night (July 26) in Pittsburgh, Pa., performing a much stronger set of songs than they did at earlier shows on this over two-year expedition.
"It's a hot summer night in the 'Burgh! How you gonna treat us tonight?" Bono asked the enthusiastic crowd during a show-opening 'Even Better Than the Real Thing,' the first of four songs in a row from 1991's 'Achtung Baby' that kicked off the evening. Whether it's because U2 is excited about the upcoming 20th anniversary re-issue of 'Baby,' or just that they realize it's arguably their best work ever, it was great to see songs from 2009's (not bad but...) 'No Line on the Horizon' jettisoned in favor of songs like 'The Fly' and 'Until the End of the World.'
Of course 'Mysterious Ways,' which Prince should cover right now, has always remained in U2's set, and tonight served as an early and impressive demonstration of the capabilities of the band's "claw" stage, showing off the telescoping video screen that allowed Bono to virtually "dance" alongside the ever-popular belly dancers from the song's video.
Mr. Vox seemed to be enjoying himself tremendously, introducing his bandmates by likening each one to a famous Pittsburgh resident (We'll let you guess who was labeled Perry Como, Charles Bronson and Andy Warhol), and in a perhaps-not-calculated-but-who-can-say-in-these-cynical-times gesture, removing his in-ear monitors to bask in the crowd's "whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh" singing at the end of 'Pride (in the Name of Love.)'
It was particularly great to see U2 dig out the title track to 'Achtung''s baby brother album, 'Zooropa,' even if the performance was both a little rushed and a bit impersonal, with the band lowering the video screens down nearly to the bottom of the stage, then hardly playing any video across them at all during the performance.
The two-and-a-half hour set also took in early songs ('I Will Follow'), the holy trinity of 'Joshua Tree' hits ('Streets,' 'Still' and 'With'), as well as rarities that the band seems particularly fond of ('Miss Sarajevo,' 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me'). At one point, Bono cleverly bookended the danceable new song 'I'll Go Crazy' with snippets of the Stones' 'Miss You' and Talking Heads' 'Life During Wartime'
In fact, if the band had ended the set as they had on most nights, with the new album's epic, brooding 'Moment of Surrender,' it'd be hard for anybody to say they didn't get their money's worth. But Bono huddled up his troops and uncorked a stirring rendition of fan favorite 'Bad' instead, adding one more highlight to the list of impromptu headline-making performances on this tour, and showing U2 know the value of finishing a long race in strong form.
Watch U2 Perform 'Bad' in Pittsburgh on July 26