... but with everything that's plagued these guys in the last year, it just might be. That would be sad, if so.
The problems with this release:
I've been a U2 fan for a very long time. Bono already thanked me directly during the Slane tour for giving them $500 during the span of their career. I've probably given more, and I hate to have to qualify myself before I write this review, as I hope people read it with a clear mind, but it's true.
I think the more time passes, the more people expect from U2 and very likely the more U2 expect from themselves as well as a band. Most people when they tune into watching or listening to U2 want them to remain timeless, not age, play the same stuff perfectly and sound magnificent.
Unfortunately, this just isn't reality. Part of the problem is that U2 hasn't figured this out yet, either. Maybe it's the competitiveness of hearing the huge sums that the Rolling Stones pull in from their touring that keeps them coming back. I don't know. Honestly. But these last two DVD concerts, while they do look and sound better on some levels have really shown the truth about U2. I can't really knock U2 either because these guys have been on tour for the bulk of the last thirty years and that's no lie.
But sadly, Bono is really aging badly and very quickly. I hate to say it, but it must be said. Sure everyone ages, but it doesn't look like the guy is in a great shape anymore. He's heavily winded during most of the concert, out of breath many times, doesn't have the vocal range of even 2001-2004 and the 'gimmicks' he used to employ to get him going during concerts like doing laps around the huge circle just don't get it. The long political dialogues front-ending songs, which must be brutal for the Edge and the boys, which also used to give Bono a short rest from singing during the concert, also don't really have the same heart in them. These monologues now lack sincerity and just come across as real over-rehearsed bloviation. I wish it was different, but from where I'm sitting, it isn't.
1. This DVD is 1080i not 1080p. Packaging it as Blu-Ray is badly misleading and shameful. I've been hoping for a Blu-Ray release for sometime, but not like this.
2. The editing of this is pretty uninspired and the shots they used as transitions were just awful.
3. I watched this live on Youtube, for those that might remember that it was also streamed live that night, and this just doesn't feel or sound like the same concert.
4. Bono's 'soapboxing' is probably at its worst here. I almost feel like someone is purposefully trying to repackage all this music to fit in as the soundtrack of the day and not the soundtrack of our lives as it has been. I almost feel like I'm being robbed. Placing this music into new contexts with speeches about current Government misdoings just makes a listener sad. The whole An San Suu Kyi piece should've been moving, but it wasn't. Even at home, alone, it was just uncomfortable.
5. On the DVD, I really couldn't pin down any really inspirational performances here. Larry, Adam and the Edge were all on the money, but I think the front man really let them down. There was no 'All I want is you/Where the Streets' moment like on Slane.
6. Making Breathe a bonus track instead of the opening is just plain wrong.
7. The opening menu wasn't as seamless and intuitive as previous versions and several times while bouncing around from song to song the thing reset itself and started over. The opening menu was so convoluted that it's more of a hindrance than anything artful or cool.
I was really looking forward to this DVD for quite some time but it just didn't win me over. I usually play along with these U2 concert DVD's the best I can, but I couldn't find the heart in this show. If you catch the facial expressions of Larry and The Edge, several times they seem not just frustrated but a bit mad. I might be too.
I think the real lesson here is basic. My suggestions for U2 and what they should do regarding concerts in the future or at least for awhile, is only opinion. Take all of this as you may. I'm only a fan and a consumer and not an authority. It seems wrong to suggest anything.
1. U2 should tone down these huge spectacles and preform smaller venues or do a smaller circuit. David Bowie did this and was incredibly successful at it. During his Heathen Tour he strictly played the 5 Burroughs in NY and played the clubs. People talked about seeing Bowie like this as his finest hour. U2 should to do this for awhile as all of their performances in smaller settings are typically phenomenal and very moving. Even their SNL, David Letterman, Jules Holland, et al, shows on Youtube are mind blowing. It's difficult to deny this.
2. They should focus on releasing more intimate and personal DVD's that really capture the essence of the band. The Documentary on "The Unforgettable Fire' that's on Slane is incredible. Sting, yes, Sting ... has released several DVD's where he filmed a few concerts at his house and they're very good. Even if you don't like Sting, The Police or that kind of music, it's hard to knock it and his level of honesty during filming is quite shocking. Sting's last DVD at Durham Cathedral was remarkable. The second disk was a camera following him around in his home town and was very moving. U2 should put something like that together. I don't know who wouldn't be enthralled.
3. An acoustic package like the second disc from the HTDAAB release is long overdue. Hearing these songs in their most raw and broken down form greatly eclipse these uninspired performances from this show or the last one from Chicago.
Look, I've posted a lot of U2 reviews through the years, some critical, some praising. I don't mean to say anything negative about Bono either. If you read this, Bono, please don't think I'm an ungrateful upstart. Not many people can do what you do or what you've done, so I won't pretend to think it's easy for a moment. We are all going to get older and begin to crumble. Some of us work at keeping it together harder than others. I don't know how hard you have to work or what more you have to do and I know you probably work a lot harder than I do. Whatever road you guys are going down, I hope it's the right one and not a direction that keeps putting out stuff like this. Some of us will probably turn away.
In truth, I'm not going to say I'm not going to buy anymore U2 DVD's, because I will. I buy guitar equipment because of you guys and microphones, too. I buy books about U2 (and Bono) and I read them. I've seen you in concert and probably will again if I get the chance and can afford the tickets. I still buy U2 T-shirts and other stuff and probably always will. U2 has some of the most dedicated fans out there and I'm one of them. People love you for the music and the inspiration. I'd say play to that.
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