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U2: POPMART LIVE FROM MEXICO CITY

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr., Adam Clayton
Director: David Mallet
Audio:  Dolby 5.1, DTS, PCM Stereo
Video:  Full screen Color
Studio:  Island Records/Interscope/UMe
Features:  None
Length:  126 Minutes, one disc (two disc edition available)
Release date: September 18, 2007

“You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold.

You say you want your story to remain untold

But all the promises we make

From the cradle to the grave

When all I want is you.”

Concert ***

The Beatles made you want to be in love, Led Zeppelin made you want to march into battle, Chicago reminds you of a Saturday in the Park in the Old Days, and U2 simply seems like they are going to save the world and you want to go with them to Where the Streets Have No Name.  No other band has been so incredible for so many years.  Bono sings every word of every song as if it was the last thing he will ever sing and you are hearing it for the first time, even though every member of every concert audience knows every word of every song, as if it were scripture and this was the last revival before Armageddon.  Their fabulous 90’s concerts have finally been released on DVD, proving them to be consistently in control. 

However, there are some letdowns.  Pride (In the Name of Love) is almost pedestrian, and Bono seems strangely out of energy all too soon.  Their voices are tired throughout.  But this is an interesting concert for several reasons because even though the show is great overall, it marks both the most ambitious stage show U2 has ever mounted and possibly the weakest new album, Pop.  The even stranger but catchier material of Zooropa also perplexed many fans.  They finally came to my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida on that tour, and I did not even bother to go.  I assumed they jumped the shark and I was almost embarrassed to admit I owned their music. 

It is assumed that every band will stumble sooner or later, and these albums baffled most U2 fans and fans of rock in general.  They seemed to be trying to make a statement about pop culture, but seeing them in concert dressed like comic book heroes, with a huge olive on the stage and the whole Popmart looking like a cross between McDonald’s and a drive-in bowling alley, it is hard to believe this is the same band that sang “How long must we sing this song” and the above lyrics from the closing tune of Rattle And Hum.  What happened?  Adam Clayton takes the stage wearing a facemask? 

You don’t have to be seventeen and worried about the future of the world to wonder what happened to U2.  They seemed to be taking and becoming the very things they were ridiculing.   There is a point in it somewhere but I don’t really know what it is.  And it did impact their music. Fortunately we all know that they charged back with future albums and concert tours, recapturing their songwriting style and could be taken seriously again. 

The opening menu is interesting because it shows one third of the songlist at a time and changes by itself every few seconds, an interesting innovation.

Songlist: 1) Pop Muzik, 2) Mofo, 3) I Will Follow, 4) Gone, 5) Even Better Than The Real Thing, 6) Last Night On Earth, 7) Until The End Of The World, 8) New Year's Day, 9) Pride (In The Name Of Love), 10) I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, 11) All I Want Is You, 12) Desire, 13) Staring At The Sun, 14) Sunday Bloody Sunday, 15) Bullet The Blue Sky, 16) Please, 17) Where The Streets Have No Name, 18) Lemon, 19) Discotheque, 20) If You Wear That Velvet Dress, 21) With Or Without You, 22) Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, 23) Mysterious Ways, 24) One, 25) Wake Up Dead Man.

Audio ****

The concert begins as the disc is inserted but it only plays in stereo, which is unfortunate since the Dolby 5.1 and DTS mixes are fantastic.  You’ll have to select them from the audio options as usual with most discs. 

Video ***

The pyrotechnics look wonderful on DVD, far superior to the previous VHS release as most music concerts are.  There is some slight splotchiness from certain angles, in the darkness, but it is hard to tell if it was caused from mediocre production or the smoke that seems to be everywhere, more than likely the latter.  In any case the video is still good, and interestingly the show starts in black and white, and then suddenly becomes color.

Features (Zero Stars)

None.  It is assumed that the deluxe two disc edition has special features.

Summary:

An excellent addition for any U2 fan, but the single disc edition has no special features, and it is not their finest moment.  But see it anyway to look back on the Popmart spectacle in 1997, The Edge singing Sunday Bloody Sunday solo, and the rarely performed but wonderful All I Want is You and Hold Me, Kiss, Me, Thrill Me, Kill Me.

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