disgorging Larry Mullen Jr and The Edge. An hour later. on the other side of the stadium. Bono and Adam Clayton make their way inside. By this time. there‘s no one around to ask if they‘re split up like this for insurance reasons — one of the rhythm section paired with one. how you say. more melodious member. each van arriving separately — because the show. awaited by tens of thousands of Mexican-Waving. plastic-boltle-throwing Marseilleans is about to begin. Out front. the screens begin to flex their digital muscles on a signiﬁcantly grander version of what bands from time ; immemorial have termed ‘the 3 intro tape‘. An audio-visual loop of a drummer boy from Riefenstahl‘s Triumph ()f Will is joined by a second. different. loop on another screen. then a third — all perfectly synchronised. building up to a thunderous ‘cacophony. sparking folk memories of other mass stadium spectacles. A climax. then — boom! — and into the gritty intro to ‘Zoo Station‘. Bono makes his entrance as The Fly. ? dramatically silhouetted against a videowall. In a gesture which is as much a tribute to every trash- rocker who‘s ever limped across a stage as it is a I political statement. he sets off on a lurching
goose-step. re-enacting the climactic scene of l);-
Strange/ave by struggling with a stiffened sieg lwiling arm. (What next — Richard The Third? Quasimodo‘.’)
My notes for the second song. ‘The Fly‘. simply read ‘lt‘s a fucking riot up there.‘ Sensory
overload would be one way of putting it. as words
‘When the home video cassette came out, there was an effort made to Zoo it up -
whereas now we’re so naturally Zoo we don’t have to try any more!’
‘You've made me very farnoos’: Bono's horned alter-ego - an amalgam of Elvis,
Noel Coward and Satan
and images are flashed up faster than they can be assimilated - juxtaposed and fine-tuned by the redoubtable Ms Caston.
After a bit of channel-hopping — Gordon Brown MP bizarrely shows up for a few seconds — and a crotch-held camera trained on the crowd
during ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing‘. he dials an
American named Bill Carter in Sarajevo. for an update on the situation. ‘People are starving because there‘s no food‘." repeats Bono. and asks Carter if Bosnia feels betrayed by the West. ‘Bill. I just want to say one thing: We are ashamed to be European.‘ From there. they go straight into ‘One‘. now firmly put in international context. Crass as it may sound. this segue works. It’s the old concerned Bono — letting his Fly down — the Bono that never went away. Good for them. is my automatic response. No one else in their field. let alone of their stature. is even remarking on this stuff at all.
Maurice Linnane had said earlier. ‘Apart from those moments where we want the material that goes up on the screens to be the message — and there are only two or three that are important — then it‘s still U2. this is the band playing. If they walked out and none of the screens worked. they could still do a show. If the band didn‘t walk out and we just played the material on the screens. you‘d be asleep within twenty minutes. Never to lose sight of that is the hardest part . . . . If you want to enjoy it as a big colouredy splash behind one of the biggest rock ‘n‘ roll bands in the world. that‘s fine.’
‘Basically, they were sick of being 02 . . .’
to be how most
And that basically seems people are enjoying Zooropa. As in any rock show. the oldies get the biggest cheers. even though the Ac/itung segments have a freshness
and verve that make the rest sound like nostalgia pieces. lt‘s doubtful that the lingering ‘TOUT QUE VOUS SAVEZ EST FAUX’ is forcing large sections of the crowd to reassess their most cherished beliefs. Or any of the other sophisticated gimmicks that U2 credit to the influence of Dada. Burroughs and cyberpunk author William Gibson. As one would expect from the stadium environment they have inhabited for several years now. it’s the band’s overstated platitudes that have an effect: Amnesty lnternational‘s membership figures (lid rise after the Joshua Trev tour. Zooropa is more sheer fun than any time I‘ve seen the band in the past. but even with all the power of the Zoo TV set-up at their disposal. when they want to communicate their humanitarian beliefs to a crowd. they have to hark back to the state-the-bleedin‘-obvious U2 of Rattle Aml Hum to do it.
But as the show is drawing to a close. they seem to acknowledge that themselves by bringing on Bono‘s horned alter-ego MacPhisto — an amalgam of Elvis. Noel Coward and Satan — who shows up to pose. preen and make tonight‘s phone call. lle‘s taken over from the Mirror-Ball Man. a grotesque showbiz parody who kept audiences and crew amused on the American dates but has since been shelved. MacPhisto gives Bono even more licence for obnoxious behaviour. as if that were needed.
‘You‘ve made me very famous.‘ he leers. showing off his gold lame flares and reaching for the phone. At recent gigs. he‘s attempted to get through to Chancellor Kohl and The Pope. Tonight‘s target. one M. Tapis. a local politician of debatable integrity. elects not to pick up his receiver. No problem. though — U2 launch into one of their pre-Aclztung peaks. ‘With Or Without You‘. This is the point where. even if you‘ve been paying close attention. the ambiguity reaches perplexing heights. Is it Bono that‘s singing this with such passion — or MacPhisto. ridiculing the grand sentiments. sneering at what U2 were. struggling manfully with the albatross?
The answer never comes. L]
U2 play Celtic Park, Glasgow on Sat 7 (sold our) and Sun 8.
8 The List 30 July—l2 August I993