Bono Now in high def­i­ni­tion!

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - MUSIC - TIM DE LISLE

U2 SAP Cen­ter, San Jose ★★★★

Af­ter 42 years to­gether, the four mem­bers of U2 could be for­given for want­ing to spend more time with their yachts. In­stead, they’re work­ing like there’s no to­mor­row.

This time last year they started a world tour, per­form­ing The Joshua Tree in full, to mem­o­rable ef­fect. By Christ­mas they’d re­leased a punchy new al­bum, Songs Of Ex­pe­ri­ence. And now they’re on an­other tour, which is en­tirely Joshua-free.

En­ti­tled Ex­pe­ri­ence + In­no­cence, this tour picks up where In­no­cence + Ex­pe­ri­ence left off in 2015 and shares its party trick: a vast, two-sided video screen slic­ing the arena in half, with a cat­walk un­der­neath and a stage at ei­ther end. It turns bad seats into good ones. Only U2’s de­sign­ers – Wil­lie Wil­liams, Es Devlin and Ric Lip­son – could have dreamt it up.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary in 2015, the screen still seems fu­tur­is­tic, and the im­ages are sharper now. It’s as if you’d bought the big­gest telly in the high street and taken it to the gig with you.

Not long ago arena crowds peered into the mid­dle dis­tance to make out idols the size of ants. Here they can see ev­ery­thing from Larry Mullen’s boot­pol­ish hair to Adam Clay­ton’s small smile at the end of a vi­brant Ver­tigo. Thanks to an app, spec­ta­tors can even have Bono’s face on their phones, which may be tak­ing stage tech­nol­ogy too far. If the vi­su­als are con­sis­tently sat­is­fy­ing, the set list is patchy. The 26 tracks in­clude eight from the new al­bum, which is too much of a good thing. No doubt it made sense, at a band meet­ing, to ban­ish The Joshua Tree: been there, re­done that. But it’s a rare case of U2 fail­ing to please the crowd. With Or With­out You, and its sis­ters Where The Streets Have No Name and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Look­ing For, are too well loved to sit on the shelf.

The clas­sics we do get re­tain their power: a surg­ing Beau­ti­ful Day, a storm­ing Pride, a spine-tin­gling One. A pared-down Sun­day Bloody Sun­day is su­perb; I Will Fol­low is pretty fierce for a teenage an­them; Star­ing At The Sun, with Bono and The Edge form­ing a folk duo, is fab­u­lously soul­ful.

Bono does bang on a bit. ‘No mat­ter how many times he saves the world,’ The Edge said re­cently, ‘it al­ways man­ages to un­save it­self.’

But he still sings like an opin­ion­ated an­gel. And the pro­duc­tion is phe­nom­e­nal. Ex­pe­ri­ence + In­no­cence plays UK are­nas Oc­to­ber 19-28. u2.com

Above: U2 on stage. Right: Bono

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