Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.


U2/Lone Justice

Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT

I don't remember who was organizing the road trip from Ithaca to Hartford to catch U2 on their Unforgettable Fire tour, but two of my fellow DJs at our college radio station (WICB) were going and I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity.

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Kevin wore his Irish-American heritage on his sleeve, even calling himself "The Leprechaun" on the air, and was naturally a huge fan of the band. Glenn, meanwhile, was a lyric-oriented music listener and future songwriter, and was inspired by Bono's freewheeling yet passionate and meaningful approach to his words.

They, plus myself, and two other guys who I didn't really know--friends of Kevin, I think--piled into the car (not mine, of course, I didn't even yet know how to drive) and made the five hour trek to Hartford.

U2 setlist:"11 O'Clock Tick Tock," "I Will Follow," "Seconds," "MLK," "The Unforgettable Fire," "Wire," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "The Cry," "The Electric Co.," "A Sort Of Homecoming," "Bad," "October," "New Year's Day," "Pride (In The Name Of Love), encore break, "Party Girl," "Gloria," "40"

 Here was the local review of the concert:
Somewhere in the sea of fans at the Hartford Civic Center Saturday night -- mixed with the stink of smoke, sweat and old popcorn -- you sit waiting for a rock 'n' roll miracle to happen.

The lights dim, and from the stage, a sound pierces the dark and carries over the 16,000 fans now on their feet. This sound strikes feelings in you that only seem to come these days on rare occasions -- perhaps for a Bruce Springsteen concert, or the closing ceremonies at the Olympics, or an old Frank Capra movie.

And suddenly you have faith in the power of rock 'n' roll -- not in its mere ability to act as background music at a party or a sound track to cruising down the highway, but in its ability to reach deep into your gut and move you as nothing else can.

Such was the concert that U2 performed Saturday night at the Hartford Civic Center in its first of two shows here.the second show will be Tuesday night.

With the heroic-looking lead singer, known simply as Bono, this quartet from Dublin sings passionately of commitment to peace -- against violence in Northern Ireland, Soviet domination in Poland, of "the evil regime" in South Africa. It preaches this message through the visceral power of rock.

Bono's theatrics  have been tempered since the band's last tour,in which the singer climbed scaffolding and jumped into audiences. This time, he let the music capture the crowd.

The 90-minutes-plus set featured its thunderous anthems, such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "I Will Follow," and "New Year's Day," but the softer, moodier moments were equally as effective.

Much of the richly textured tunes come from U2's atmospheric album, "The Unforgettable Fire." Surprisingly, these seemingly intimate songs translated beautifully in an arena setting with drummer Larry Mullin Jr., bassist Adam Clayton and guitarist Dave Evans, who is known as The Edge.

"A Sort of Homecoming" was a lilting melody that charmed as well as inspired. "MLK" was a gentle hymn [in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.] that captivated the crowd with its heartfelt sincerity. And "Pride (In the Name of Love)" belongs alongside the best of the band's peace-loving anthems.

Lone Justice, a new country-rock act whose debut album was just released last week, opened the show. Though its music was perhaps too country for the audience's tastes, lead singer Maria McKee showed she has the best new voice in music since Cyndi Lauper. But for much of the show McKee and her band looked lost in the wide expanse of the arena stage, and hesitant to establish rapport with the crowd.

U2, on the other hand, proved that the Civic Center was just the right size for its political vision and musical dynamics. The music of U2 might not have the power to make a difference over the course of a lifetime, but it did make a difference for one night.

The song list for the U2 show included: 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, Seconds, MLK, Unforgettable Fire, Wire, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Video Electrica, Amazing Grace, A Sort of Homecoming, Bad, New Year's Day, Pride ( In the Name of Love), (Encore) Party Girl, Gloria, (Encore) 40.

(Frank Rizzo. "U2 Revives Message of Rock 'n' Roll." The Hartford Courant. April 22, 1985. p. D2.)

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