U2 Revisit the Nineties at Epic New Jersey Show - Rolling Stone
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U2 Revisit the Nineties at Epic New Jersey Show

Two-and-a-half hour set featured deep cuts and a Clarence Clemons tribute

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Bono of U2 performs at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

U2 entered the home stretch of their two-year-long 360° Tour last night at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the quartet delivered a generous career-spanning set with an emphasis on selections from the Nineties.

Throughout the tour, U2 have fixated on different periods in their discography – early on, they went heavy on material from The Unforgettable Fire, and in the middle of the jaunt, they would play up to five songs per night from 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. In recent weeks, they’ve leaned hard on Achtung Baby and Zooropa, inspired in part by the 20th anniversary of the sessions in Berlin that yielded both records. (It doesn’t hurt that an expanded edition of the former album is due to hit shops later this year.) They kicked off the two-and-a-half hour gig with four consecutive songs from Achtung Baby, each sounding as vibrant, stylish and dynamic as they did two decades ago. “The Fly” was particularly lively, with Bono joining the Edge on guitar to add an extra layer of trebly distortion to the abrasive rocker.

Photos: Three Decades of U2

As the show carried on, the band deployed guaranteed crowd pleasers “I Will Follow,” “Beautiful Day,” “Pride,” “Vertigo,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Where the Streets Have No Name” evenly throughout the setlist, winning them enough goodwill from the audience to indulge in deep cuts such as “Zooropa” and “Miss Sarajevo,” and tracks from 2009’s No Line on the Horizon. Though the peppy “Get On Your Boots” and the messianic “Magnificent” were greeted with enthusiasm by much of the stadium crowd, the band fumbled a dance remix version of “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” a song that appears on No Line with an arrangement roughly similar to that of “Beautiful Day.” The melody simply doesn’t suit the tempo, and Bono – who was otherwise in good voice through the night – struggled to stay in tune. That segment of the show was saved somewhat by a brief detour into “Discotheque,” a more successful but often unfairly maligned attempt at a dance-rock hybrid from 1997’s Pop.

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Despite playing one of the longest sets of the 360° Tour, Bono and the band were unwilling to part with their enthusiastic New Jersey audience. After paying tribute to the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons with a bit of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Jungleland” worked into usual show closer “Moment of Surrender,” the group stuck around for one more song, an impromptu rendition of their very first single “Out of Control.” As that tune surged toward its ecstatic conclusion, the only thing that seemed to keep them from going on for another encore was the venue’s curfew and a steady stream of audience members hitting the exits in the hope of getting a jump on what promised to be some brutal New Jersey traffic.

Here’s some footage of the band performing “With or Without You,” the emotional climax of the night.

The setlist:

“Even Better Than the Real Thing”
“The Fly”
“Mysterious Ways”
“Until the End of the World”
“I Will Follow”
“Get On Your Boots”
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
“Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”
“Beautiful Day”
“Pride (In the Name of Love)”
“Miss Sarajevo”
“City of Blinding Lights”
“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight/Discotheque”
“Sunday Bloody Sunday”
“Walk On”

Encore 1:

“Where the Streets Have No Name”

Encore 2:

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”
“With or Without You”
“Moment of Surrender”
“Out of Control”


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