U2 / The Bravery- City Of Manchester Stadium - 14.6.05
you bring together U2, the biggest band in the world, and the
best new band out of New York, The Bravery, you know you're in
for an unforgettable show. Alex McCann went along to the City
Of Manchester Stadium to see how The Bravery faired in front of
50,000 people and also to see whether Bono's forays into politics
had meant the music had taken a downshift in priorities. It turned
out to be a show where no one left disappointed.
The Bravery's rise to prominence has seen them battling out of
a bedroom studio in the less desirable area of New York and on
to the world stage where they can class U2 as fans. After a storming
opener with "Dead In The Water", all quirk lo-fi synths
and ambitious scope, they hit a brick wall when the PA failed
on "Tyrant". A valiant attempt to carry on is thwarted
when the bands sound fails again. It's like watching Parisian
mime artist work their way through a rock and roll show, pulling
all the poses with none of the soundtrack to back them up.
from nowhere and I represent absolutely nothing. We're all human
and we all make mistakes - we f**ked up. I'd like you all welcome
back the Bravery!!!" announced an MC before the band walk
on with a new found zest for life and a desire to prove themselves
yet again in front of 50,000 people. "Swollen Summer"
brims full of off-kilter Kraftwerk-esque synths and post-punk
guitar riffs, while "Give In" has the bombast of stadium
rock. It's the first time tonight that the Bravery show real potential
to break out of the club circuit and on to the centre stage. Sam
Endicott and co are people who thrive in dark sleazy clubs, with
little but mascara-ed eyes to give them away, and tonight is only
the second ever show they've played with the sunlight casting
shadows across the stage and exposing them bare (their first ever
daylight show was supporting Duran Duran a number of weeks ago
turns a soccer field into the Campest display yet with Endicott
and bassist Mike Hindert looking like a gay wet dream somewhere
between the world of Morrissey and Bel Ami. "Tightrope"
swoons with it's own simplicity and is the sort of dark pop melody
that Depeche Mode excel in.
single "Honest Mistake" sends the crowd into a frenzy
with its pulsating orgasmatron synth and guitar stabs which split
like shards of glass. "Unconditional" is a genuinely
affecting song that has grown so much since we first heard it
slipping through the underground a few short months ago. "Fearless"
features the immortal line "I love the way you love me chico"
and brings back the sort of long lost phrase we haven't seen since
Scissor Sister's brought back the word "Shamone" in
the public's consciousness.
displays of musical dexterity from guitarist Michael Zakarin and
keyboard player John Conway show that more often than not the
Bravery are holding something back in their desire to create life-affirming
pop records. It was touch and go for a while, but against all
the odds The Bravery prove that with time they could be the stadium
band our generation has been waiting for.
There's a moment in tonight's show during "Sometimes You
Can't Make It On Your Own" where Bono walks along a pristine
red carpet with the reverence of the Pope or Mother Teresa while
gyrating with the hips of Elvis. It's a sublime, ridiculous moment
that in fairness only Bono could pull off with any degree of respectability
and it's these intrinsic contradictions of attempting to end world
poverty and engage in world politics while at the same time living
the lifestyle of a debonair rock n roll god that make U2 one of
the most interesting bands since the Beatles.
comparison to the Achtung Baby or Popmart tours, the set for the
"Vertigo" tour is a sparse backdrop of floodlights with
an arced heart curving round the audience encompassing a message
of love and peace. Macphisto and The Fly were about Bono creating
disturbing characters that summed up the worst elements of rock
and roll excess, nowadays with Bono laying his ideas and thoughts
on the line it would be crass to have a set which costs more than
the living costs of a small African village.
bombast of "Vertigo" and "Elevation" kick
things off and prove why U2 are not only the best band in the
world, but also the biggest. It's in stark comparison to the likes
of REM that shun the greatest hits set in favour of obscure forays
into their back catalogue. U2 have always been about celebrating
every single joyous moment of their career and dipping back into
"New Years Day" with that undeniable ringing epic sound
of the Edge engulfing the stadium and ricocheting off the cavernous
I was younger my father Bob Hewson, a working class man from Dublin,
used to conduct opera on the radio with a knitting needle"
announces Bono before asking the audience to raise their lighters
and cell phones in memory of his late father. "The City Of
Blinding Lights" is the most beautiful touching moment of
the show with the refrain of "Oh you look so beautiful tonight"
Bloody Sunday" sees the band drenched in red lighting to
emphasise the poignant message. "Jesus Jew Mohammed - all
signs of Abraham" shouts Bono in an audience call back before
closing with the telling line "Abraham what have you done".
Just one look around the stadium and those sat close by and it's
plain to see that U2 are one of the few bands that bring together
different generations, races and religions by the unification
of music. A reading of the Human Rights Bill after "Bullet
the Blue Sky" bring a revolutionary moment to what essentially
is a rock gig and lists the basic human rights we take for granted,
and of which several nations are denied through oppressive foreign
a set list that reads like the worlds most perfect gig they take
us through "Beautiful Day", "Pride (In The Name
Of Love)", "One", "Where The Streets Have
No Name" and nod to their heroes Joy Division with interpolations
of "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
during "With Or Without You".
are band that are impossible to separate the politics and personalities
from the music, but if you take away the peripheral elements of
the band you're still left with songs that enrich the soul. As
Bono succinctly says "This is the year, this the moment to
Make Poverty History. We need T-Shirts and we need slogans to
put an end to the debt and the problems"
tonight you get the feeling that U2 will be entertaining generation
after generation in years to come. It would be easy to say this
was the gig of the year, it's more realistic to say this was gig
of a lifetime.
Karen McCann - www.karenmcbride.com
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