U2 has set the level of decadence for this summer”s pop tours like The Backstreet Boys, “NSYNC and Destiny”s Child. Yet, these boys of summer have left the hype and hoopla behind. With their Detroit premiere of the Elevation Tour 2001 on Wednesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, U2 proved that their show would be all about music, and not the glitz that showcased their past tours.
To start the show, the band walked onstage humbly, with full house lights on. If it had not been for the exploding, recognizable riff to the title track of the tour, “Elevation,” the audience might have mistaken the band for common stagehands. It was not until he addressed the crowd with a slight bow that he, along with the other band members, became modern day rock gods.
Well-known rhythms from “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Pride” and “Where the Streets Have No Name” induced an ocean of hands and waves of sound as fans screamed out the lyrics from the pit surrounding the heart-shaped stage.
Songs from their newest album, All That You Can”t Leave Behind, complemented the standard of excellence that U2 fans have come to expect. The crowd embraced the blend of new songs with established classics.
Still, it was the antics and compelling theatrics of Bono that made the crowd explode with emotion and loyalty. Without relying on ordering 10,000 pizzas to the Palace, as he did in his 1992 Zooropa visit (although he did mention it was a nice night for a slice), or phoning another President Bush, Bono captivated the audience with his energy and endearing ability to play right into the palm of the audience, literally.
Several times, Bono fell into the hands of many screaming fans who reached out to touch only him. He often laid down on the extended stage to embrace a hand or two that he couldn”t have reached any other way. Kissing audience members” hands and serenading them two feet from their faces, Bono carried the show.
The peak of the band”s flare and flash came during their first of two encore performances when Charlton Heston, surrounded by visuals of gun violence, school shootings and children with guns, spoke as a proponent of weaponry. U2″s visual mockery of the NRA president was a prelude into their political stance against guns and violence with, “Bullet in the Blue Sky.”
One of the highlights of the show came when the band was at its simplest and most pure. Bono, along with guitarist The Edge, bass Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen gathered at the peak of the extended stage, bringing with them their single instruments, and played “Desire” with no aid of glitz or glamour.
Such modesty, yet commanding stage presence like that has kept U2 on top as one of rock”s most endured and most loved bands for two decades. For their show at the Palace, they did not rely on flashy techniques, exploding fireworks or even complex lighting to set the mood. U2″s potent success fell on the strength of their music alone.