U2’s Unforgettable Night
U2 can always be counted on to release a concert DVD of their latest tour. For the Elevation tour, supporting the Irish group’s critically and commercially successful All That You Can’t Leave Behind, the band released a live show from Boston that pretty much accurately represented the tour. It was U2’s most successful tour (at least artistically) since the groundbreaking ZooTV extravaganza of the early ‘90s, and was a perfect way to move on from the spectacle of stadium-sized rock. In the arenas, U2 was more intimate and accessible to their fans, and it gave the devoted a chance to see their heroes up close for the first time since the indoor leg of ZooTV in early 1992. The Elevation tour was energized, passionate, soulful, and most nights at least, just down-right righteous. On the best nights, God was in the house. And no, I’m not talking about Bono.
Late on the European leg of the tour, however, the U2 crew pulled into Dublin for two homecoming shows at the famed Slane Castle (where U2 had recorded most of The Unforgettable Fire and where Ireland stages enormous outdoor concerts in front of hundreds of thousands of people). U2 were in the great outdoors again and playing in front of a crowd the size of which had the combined number of a half dozen or so of their usual indoor shows.
Anyway, the show was recorded for posterity but never intended to be released. After all, the tour was already documented with the Boston DVD, and U2 had never released multiple concert DVDs from the same tour in the past. But as things sometimes happen nowadays, news of the show’s recording had hit the internet and U2 fans around the web petitioned the group to release the concert, which had reportedly been a bit of a corker.
And so it has come to pass. U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle, Ireland is actually taken from the second night of the two-night-stand and was recorded just a few short days after the passing of Bono’s father, lending the affair an extra emotional edge. While the show could have easily seemed superfluous, it is in actuality the definitive document of not only the Elevation tour, but arguably of U2 live, period.
A loose, carefree, freewheeling atmosphere contributes to a document of a band in top form. Playing in front of their home town fans, doing what they do best, U2 is a joy to watch here. From the opening assault of “Elevation”, to an inspired “Beautiful Day”, to a near definitive version of “Out Of Control”, it is about as much as you could want from a U2 concert. Although the energy level dips just a tad midway through (the first rush of songs are so inspired and energized the high could not have been sustained for long), there are enough highlights to make the show a constant joy.
After a severely angry “Sunday Bloody Sunday” where Bono reads aloud the names of the victims from the Omagh bombing, the band lightens up for a fun and freewheeling mid-set busk of “Angel of Harlem”, and “Desire”. Before hitting their peak with “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Pride”. A gorgeous version of “Walk On” ends the show on a high note.
Hamish Hamilton does a fine job directing, and compared to the polished Boston show the recording has a loose, almost rough style to it, which might owe to the fact that it wasn’t initially intended to be released. The sound quality is superb throughout and benefits greatly from the DTS 5.1 mix.
As far as extras go, there is a bonus cut of “Mysterious Ways” that was for some reason removed from the normal running order of the concert. It’s a great performance with Bono’s young daughter Eve coming on stage to dance with her dad, in place of the song’s usual belly dancer. Additionally the folks at Dreamchaser also saw fit to include Unforgettable Fire a documentary from 1985 on the band recording the album of the same name at Slane Castle. Unforgettable Fire had been previously available only on video and it’s a nice addition to include here. It’s especially notable for lots of chin stroking by a mid-‘80s-era Brian Eno, and further detailed input from Daniel Lanois. It was the first time U2 had worked with the production duo that would eventually (both together and separately) be responsible for producing virtually everything the band has done since.
U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle, Ireland is quite simply the best live U2 performance put to DVD or video, with the only possible exception being U2’s ZooTV Tour: Live From Sydney, which has yet to be released digitally. If you’re a casual fan, it’s probably the one U2 DVD you should own. If you’re a diehard it is absolutely, bloody essential.