U2 with DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL at the Air Canada Centre, September 13. Tickets: $49-$175. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Bono is full of shit. nice guy? Perhaps.
Possessor of an intensely emotive tenor that can sustain notes for impressive stretches, then warble and crack ever so sensitively? Sure.
An unyieldingly energetic showman whose heart-clutching, kneeling, arms-outstretched messianic histrionics can cause a full 20,000-seater crowd to keep their eyes stuck to him like The Edge to his toque? Believe it.
But full of shit? You can bet your purple-tinted sunglasses on that.
And I'm not just talking about his arrogance spitting water all over the stage for a roadie to wipe it up, then taking the towel and wiping it himself in a gesture of faux humility before tossing it back at the poor guy.
Here's an idea: "Don't get too big for your boots, Toronto, what with your film festival," chided the rock world's Kofi Annan at the end of Beautiful Day while peacocking around the set, a zillion-dollar oval catwalk lit by dazzling lights coursing around the perimeter like blood through a ventricle, flanked by digitized beaded curtains. "Tonight is the Toronto rock 'n' roll festival!"
Then about halfway through he name-dropped Kate Hudson ("She had a party last night and donated a lot to Make Poverty History") and Cuba Gooding Jr. ("He's here tonight thank you").
Bono's been schmoozing all week. Clearly U2 's four sold out dates here were as calculatedly planned as having Dashboard Confessional 's continuous whine kick off the show. U2 producer Daniel Lanois (there, too) is working on the South Florida schmaltzers' new record. Montreal U2 fans get the Arcade Fire.
It should be said that the music itself was incredible, largely thanks to The Edge's brilliant guitaring. Post Vertigo, the band plunged deeply into their past. Everyone sang along to the classics: I Will Follow, I Still Haven't Found and Sunday Bloody Sunday, included in an expectedly long, catalogue-spanning night. They lost people totally when singing anything from (yuck) How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
It's blatantly hypocritical that U2's image is predicated on this showboating world-saving thing (prayers for everyone "from the swamps of Louisiana to the hearts of Kilimanjaro" dominated the night).
Better not to think about U2's six 18-wheel diesel trucks that were idling in the parking lot throughout the show.