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U2 The Virtual Road Live Thread - Stop 3: U2 POPmart: Live From Mexico City


Max Tsukino
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7 hours ago, dmway said:

Well, you have to remember that screen was always meant for those who were far away from the stage. Those up close (and those watching with newly-remastered video) can see the individual pixels in the screen and the individual panels making up the entirety of the screen. So, yes, you're right - the new remastering makes the screen almost too distinct in parts. However, when they had, for example, Roy Liectenstein's video during BTBS, that looked great! It was when they projected shots from the stage that the video board was a little wanting. Ironically, for the screen to look as it did to those in the audience at the time, the best experience would most likely be to watch the original VHS tape.

Indeed. I was hoping to upgrade some screencaps I took from the old video a few years ago, but.... oh. Maybe not...

PopRemaster1.jpg

PopRemaster2.jpg

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It wasn't until I streamed it to my tv that I realised how sharp the visuals are on this version it didn't really come across on computer in the way that red rocks did. POP Mart Mexico City must have been an amazing experience for you Max the pulsing lighters from the crowd look incredible plus the noise from the crowd. That was one of the things I remember from Wembley Stadium, the crowd noise.

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Posted (edited)

We had a regular song discussion feature in another fan community years ago, and I wrote up some of the performances from this concert. Thought I'd share a couple here in case anyone likes reading that sort of thing. This was my attempt to describe With Or Without You at the end of 2006:

Quote

Now, this is neither my favourite version of WOWY (ZooTV Live From Sydney) nor the popular choice (Rattle & Hum)... but there's just something about it. What I like about this performance is that it starts out rather flawed and unremarkable, but somehow the U2 magic takes over, and it builds up into something really special.

With Or Without You is the closing song of the first encore. It's preceded by If You Wear That Velvet Dress, during which Bono pulls a girl from the audience onstage with him - it's quite sweet how she looks prepared to just give him a brief hug and then leave again, but he clings onto her really tightly for ages and she can't seem to believe her luck. :)  He's still holding her as that classic throbbing bassline from WOWY kicks in, although she's sent on her merry way soon afterwards. :P  It gets things off to a soothing, romantic start, anyway.

Bono sings the first few lines in a very soft voice, almost just murmuring them, and it's not long before you start to worry that he's going to struggle with this song. The second verse proceeds awkwardly, as Bono makes the mistake of visiting some fans in the front row, only to become so swallowed up by the frenzy of hands that you can't actually hear him sing!  He manages to escape in time for the next chorus lines, but instead of starting to build up some vocal momentum, he's still just quietly squeaking away as if he's going to sing the whole song like that. Hmm...

The first bit I really like is the way Bono breaks from the usual melody to sing "You-got-me-with-nothing-to-win-and, you got me with, nothing left to lose"... that's a nice touch. His voice revealingly cracks on the next line, though, and even as he's building up towards the big "Ohhh oh oh oh" part, he seems wary of stretching himself too hard and there's still no real passion. At this point it's becoming painful to watch him croaking his way through a song that he once threw himself into so powerfully... the bit where he takes a couple of attempts to coax out that fragile falsetto is probably the saddest moment of all, and it even seems to show on Bono's face.

That's when the song undergoes a subtle but significant transformation.

As Edge's reassuring guitar bursts in, there's a lovely swooping camera shot across the audience, and Bono makes a request: "Turn the lights... can you turn the lights right off for me? Turn the lights... OFF. Lights off!" And the blue spotlights are duly extinguished, plunging the entire stadium into the pitch black of the night. It's times like this when I really miss David Mallet's simple, elegant directing style, because he did a magnificent job with both of the '90s tour videos - he manages to capture the glorious grandness of it all without sacrificing the sense of intimacy, and he makes it seem effortless. This part of the PopMart video is one of my favourite examples, as the camera soars over this unbelievably vast sea of people, now only visible as thousands of tiny orange lights flickering against the darkness... Bono calls out "Happy Christmas!" (the video was filmed in December), and there's just something utterly magical about it, with the whole stadium kind of lit up like a Christmas tree. Out of nowhere, that moment always brings a sudden lump to my throat... it's like the real heart of the show begins to shine through, smashing its way out from beneath all the ridiculous props and vocal difficulties and general ZooTV inferiority complex. And that emotion keeps on building as Bono continues: "Mexico City... oh yeah... oh yeah... oh yeah!  Come on!  COME ON!" - at which point the song *finally* explodes into life and my heart virtually explodes with joy. Beautiful, just beautiful.

There's another, properly wonderful "Ohhh oh oh oh" which the audience ecstatically takes over, and by the time Bono draws the song to a close (the final lines sound almost like a blissful sigh), it feels like it's been a real epic. The singer holds his arms up triumphantly, then seems to unconsciously put a hand against his heart for a moment, as if a little overwhelmed by the shared love they've all just experienced. He yells out to the crowd a couple of times, gives Larry a high-five, and hugs The Edge. I think Bono, too, understands just how special that was.

Thanking the crew of PopMartians and giving the crowd a "We are not worthy!" salute, Bono follows his bandmates off into the night, and for over a minute we're left with just some eerie lighting and the screams of enraptured U2 fans.

 

Edited by Canadanne
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And I wrote this about One in September 2007:

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I've mentioned in the past that I really adore the studio version of 'One', and generally speaking I don't think it works quite as well live. Not that it sounds bad or anything, but for some reason the live performances don't tend to be all that memorable. The 1995 Modena version is a notable exception, and so is this one, but for very different reasons.

As you'll know if you've bought the new DVD or already owned the video, 'One' is the penultimate song of the concert, followed only by 'Wake Up Dead Man'. Bono dedicates it to his recently deceased friend Michael Hutchence of INXS, and I don't just mean he mentions his name at the beginning - you can tell he's thinking of Michael all the way through, and the grief and guilt and pain is pouring out of him uncontrollably, written all over his face and wreaking havoc with his voice. It's absolutely gut-wrenching, to the point where I can rarely bring myself to watch or listen to it - if I'm playing Hasta La Vista Baby I usually stop the CD before it gets to that point, and it puts me off watching the video sometimes as I remember what a massive downer it ends on. So this isn't exactly going to be the happiest post of all time, but the song is undeniably powerful and it does have a poignant beauty, especially with the visuals on the big screen.

Michael Hutchence died on 22nd November 1997, right in the middle of U2's North American tour, and the Mexico City show took place less than a week after his funeral. He and Bono had been close friends (his posthumous solo album would include their beyond-the-grave duet Slide Away, and later Stuck In A Moment was also written about Michael). It must have come as such a horrible shock, especially with U2 committed to their hectic touring schedule and having to do their grieving in public.

'One' seems like the appropriate song for a lot of occasions, and it's perfect for this too. Bono had already made references to Michael earlier in the show (opening Gone with a call of "Hutch! Going, going - but not gone...", and ending All I Want Is You with a passionate snippet of Never Tear Us Apart), but he saved the main tribute for this final encore. The previous song in the setlist was Mysterious Ways, and Bono sings a weary a cappella "It's alright, it's alright, it's alright..." in the pause before One starts up. It's almost like he's repeating it as a mantra to try and hold himself together as he comes to terms with his loss. The crowd of course go wild as soon as they recognise the intro, played by Edge with a backing track of atmospheric strings. Adam can be seen hugging his bass and watching supportively as Bono says a few words. "This one goes out to a mate of ours... great mate, great singer. I'm sorry..." He takes off his crazy bubble jacket as he reaches the mic stand (not sure if he's just hot, or if he doesn't want his absurd costume to distract from the sentiment). For a moment he seems kind of lost for words, and in the end he just quietly repeats "I'm sorry" before concluding: "For Michael Hutchence." That gets another roar of approval from the crowd.

Bono sings the first verse in a strong but gentle voice, with a blue guitar strapped over his shoulder. As he gets to "You say...", he raises his finger in a "One" gesture to encourage the crowd to join in, and they do so wonderfully. I love that Mexico City audience. David Mallet gives us one of his amazing overhead shots, just an ocean of tiny orange pinpricks in the darkness as 50,000 voices sing "One love, one life, when it's one need in the night"... truly beautiful stuff. Bono draws out the line "It leaves you, baby, if you don't care for it", and as it finishes, the giant screen lights up with the first of the animations. Initially it just looks like a tangled, wriggling blue ball, right in the centre of the PopMart arch. (Watch the visuals montage on the bonus DVD - it's actually lots of little people stuck together, who blast apart and sprout wings.)

I mentioned Hasta La Vista Baby earlier. For those who don't know, it's the (incomplete) audio CD of this concert, which was released as a Propaganda freebie a few years ago. I listen to it quite often (at least, much more often than I watch the video), and the performance of One regularly moves me to tears from that recording alone - but add in the visuals and it becomes an even more emotional experience, for reasons I can't entirely articulate. The animations they used for One are based on the distinctive artwork of the late Keith Haring, who died of AIDS in 1990. (The One single, of course, was used to raise money for AIDS research.) And there's just something incredibly moving about those strange, hypnotic little cartoons. They kind of translate the song's emotions into images and magnify them... I'll do my best to describe it, but it's really one of those things that's hard to put into words.

During the second verse, the first cracks begin to appear in Bono's voice - you can hear him falter as he sings "Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?". Behind him, little winged figures are flying all around the screen, before clustering together into a heart shape that remains throughout the chorus. Then as Bono sings "We get to carry each other, carry each other / One...", two glowing blue babies crawl into view from either end of the screen, growing in size as they make their way towards the centre. For some reason this particular image chokes me up most of all. I think it reminds me of how quickly our childhood and our innocence slips away... by the time they reach the edges of the giant arch, they're more like fully grown adults down on their hands and knees, and the heart in the middle symbolically shatters. A moment later, both of the human figures transform into weird hybrids with giant flowers for heads, and that really gets to me too. Some subconscious acknowledgment of mortality and returning into the earth, I suppose. (I have tears in my eyes already as I'm writing this. I hope I'll actually make it to the end of the post!)

Bono, too, is struggling by this point. He makes a very personal alteration to the lyrics of the next verse: "I've come here for forgiveness... but I can't raise the dead". And if you thought you might have imagined that little waver in his voice earlier, there's no doubt about it now - he really chokes on the words and barely manages to get them out, closing his eyes to try and compose himself. (No hiding behind shades for this performance - he's utterly exposed, as he was for Please earlier.) "I come here to play Jesus, to the lepers in my head," he continues. On the screen, the flower people grow long necks that join together into a heart-shaped knot, which then transforms into a very simplified image of Jesus hanging on the cross - his body missing from the waist down and graphically raining a torrent of blood over Bono's head. The singer manages to get through the rest of the verse, but only just. By the time he gets to "We're one, but we're not the same", he seems to be so busy fighting back tears that he's almost unable to carry on singing at all. It's completely heartbreaking to see him going through this pain, when you're powerless to help. It does fire him up to give one of his most passionate deliveries of "Looove is a temple, looove a higher law", though - you certainly couldn't accuse him of going through the motions with this one. "I can't be holding on to what you've got, when all you got is hurt."

Now the big heart is back on the screen, filled with little squirming people, while on either side there are flying saucers beaming people up. The UFOs disappear and there's an intricate sequence of the human figures - these luminous, touchingly childlike images - splitting into twins, climbing through holes in each other's torsos, joining back together and twisting themselves in knots. Bono seems to have gained some momentum and he's doing a really great job with the song now. He gets in a subtle message of support for Paula Yates (Michael Hutchence's girlfriend), changing the lyrics to "One life, with each other / Paula my sister / You my brother".

The soaring instrumental section seems like a welcome break for Bono, who throws himself into some rather intense guitar playing with his head right down. Evidently he's gathering all his strength together for the final coda, which is the most emotional part of the whole performance - the part that's simultaneously spectacular and very, very hard to listen to. Bono sings his usual "You hear us comin', Lord? You hear us call?", but he's not so much singing the lines as screaming them - angrily, defiantly. As if he's completely livid at God for taking his friend away. "You hear me knockin', knockin' at your door?", he snarls in a somewhat threatening tone. And it carries on like that, with Bono just shouting the words at the top of his lungs until his voice starts to become hoarse. He's singing about Michael directly now: "You hear him call? Hear him scratching? Did you make him crawl?" I've never seen Bono as genuinely despairing as I have in this performance - it's impossible not to be moved by the raw, explosive agony of it all.

The last bit says it all, really. He tries to launch into the falsetto Ahhh haaa's, but seems too overcome with emotion after the first one, and follows it up with a shouted "Ha ha... ha ha" instead. He likes the sound of it and does it again - yelling out "HA HA, HA HA!" in this incredibly bitter, mocking tone. Laughing at the stony face of gloom, to borrow a line from Crowded House. Part of me loves it, while the rest of me just hates to see Bono working himself into this heartbroken rage - knowing that if he stops shouting, he'll start crying. He manages to hit the high notes for the grand finale, and it's beautiful. After all the complicated animations on the big screen, the final image is a simple one - just an enormous red heart filling the entire golden arch, softly beating in the darkness as the screams of the crowd fill the stadium. Reminding us that love conquers everything (maybe even death). And the credits roll.

Damn, I made myself cry again re-reading that...

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3 hours ago, Canadanne said:

And I wrote this about One in September 2007:

Damn, I made myself cry again re-reading that...

Incredibly well observed and described Canadanne. This is the most emotional performance from Bono I have seen, it feels raw, as I am sure it was so soon after Michael’s death. It’s hard not to be moved by this. The concert at Slane Castle after his father’s death was emotional too during “Kite” but here he is really struggling and you can see and feel it.

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3 hours ago, Manohlive said:

I am ecstatic to see they released Bullet The Blue Sky from Pop remastered as a single clip.  It's a favorite Bono performance. 

Oooooh lordy... I missed that. 

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