Rating U2 Live: 360 L.A. vs. Zoo TV Australia vs. Live Aid

    One of my favorite parts of the concert is the rare live performance of Ultraviolet (Light my way).

    U2 360 Los Angeles

    U2 360 Los AngelesU2 has always been a great live band–possibly the best of all time–and the latest example is the spectacle that is 360; specifically the 2009 concert recorded at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. It’s still too early to rank the performance. It’s kind of like a presidency, you need to let the experience soak in for a bit. Time will tell.

    It will be interesting to see how 360 fares against three of my all-time favorite U2 performances.

    Zoo TV Australia (New Year’s 1993). U2 at their pinnacle. Bring on MacPhisto, the multimedia, and Daddy’s crashed cars. Unforgettable in every way. A+

    Bono @ Live Aid 1985: Insurance companies sweated it out.
    Bono @ Live Aid 1985: Insurance companies sweated it out.

    Live Aid (1985). U2 were already big, but Live Aid transformed them into legend with a timeless performance. It wasn’t the decent Sunday Bloody Sunday, but in fact the relatively unknown Bad that would catapult a young, mullet-prancing Irishman named Bono into global super-stardom. A+

    Riverboat (New Year’s 1982). Why are some of U2’s best concerts recorded on New Year’s Eve? This one is obscure. Somehow, many years ago in the mid-90s I downloaded the MP3s, from some site. Who knows. The sound is raw. It was recorded on a Riverboat in New Orleans. You can feel the tight quarters, the sweat, the electricity. Audio only, but early proof this band would transcend. A- (if only for audio quality–then again, that’s part of the magic).

    So, 360. Pretty impressive. How can you not be in awe of 90,000+ fans jumping in unison to Elevation? Bono has gone short with the hair once again, and looks somewhat Pop-like. Or as he says, somewhere between Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger (with a dash of Dennis Hopper thrown in).

    U2 performs Ultraviolet, 360 LA
    U2 performs Ultraviolet, 360 LA

    One of my favorite parts of the concert is track #21, a rare live performance of Ultraviolet (Light My Way). It’s given the full-on multimedia Bono treatment, which, in this case, means a wild laser bubble suit (shades of The Fly) and floating microphone fashioned after a steering wheel. It’s used to maximum acrobatic effect.

    So how will 360 and “The Claw” stack up in the grand scheme of things? Like I said, time will tell… so many concerts to recall: Vertigo, Rattle & Hum, Joshua Tree, Boy, Pop, Elevation. Will this band ever not be relevant?

    Who needs Avatar?
    Who needs Avatar?

    For now, I leave you 360 on the 10-foot home theater screen. It bears much repeated viewing. I know, it’s tough. Thankfully it pairs well with many fine wines, cool California evenings, and great friends.

    What say you, favorite U2 concert or memory?

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