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Vertigo 2005: U2 Live from Chicago (2005)

Video  |   |  Music  |  14 November 2005 (USA)
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Credited cast:
Himself (as Larry Mullen)
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Release Date:

14 November 2005 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The show was recorded over U2's two night stand in Chicago on 9 May and 10 May 2005. The May 10th gigs can be easily spotted when fans are shown holding up signs wishing Bono a happy birthday, as his 45th birthday was May 10th, and other songs don't show fans in those vicinities holding any signs. See more »


City Of Blinding Lights
Written and Performed by U2
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A lot of flash, somewhat less substance.
13 May 2009 | by (the heartland) – See all my reviews

Unbiased review from someone who is not a U2 fan.

U2 lead vocalist Bono, recently said "we're reapplying for the job of best band in the world". If so, this DVD should not be their resume. In fact, let's face it, when it comes to the title of most overrated band in rock history, U2 might have a legitimate claim to the title.

First, a bit of disclosure so you can see where I'm coming from and rank my review accordingly. I am NOT a U2 fan. I did buy 'WAR', and several other records by them when they came out. And, I do occasionally enjoy listening to their music, but I do not idolize them, and I call it like I see it.

I do admit entering this experience with a little trepidation. U2 played nudge-nudge wink wink with the punk and alternative crowd to try to ride those coattails; They played nudge-nudge wink wink with Beatles fandom all but declaring themselves the second coming of The Beatles with 'Rattle and Hum'; They played nudge- nudge wink wink with the burgeoning Christian record market, positioning themselves as the #1 Christian rock band; They played nudge-nudge wink wink with Irish nationalism; They played nudge-nudge wink wink with activism - despite occasional proclamations by Bono in the press, they've rarely if ever outright espoused any political ideology in their music.

But they never were any of those things. Or maybe a bland melange of all of them.

Now, don't get me wrong, borrowing from various sources and reinventing yourself to maintain popularity is a long standing tradition in rock. Take a band like Motley Crue who started out by swiping all of Ozzy's bats-and-gloom shtick and the N.Y. Dolls glam/drag shtick and grafting them together - later to chop off their long hair and dye it to try to fit in with the post-Metallica/Nirvana hard rock landscape.

But sometimes it seems like U2 just keeps throwing out trick after trick, from ZooTV to iPod promotion to keep their title long after they should have hung up their guitars.

But, never let it be said I won't give someone a chance to change my mind. I wanted to see U2 again, and after hearing such good things about the 'Vertigo' tour, I decided to see what the lads were up to. I had wanted to watch U2 3D, but alas, my home theater system isn't up to the challenge (whose is?) so I opted for this concert film from the same tour instead.

After watching it, I have to say it's a decent enough rock concert, but, if this is supposed to be U2 at the top of their game, I'm not impressed.

For one thing, many bands' best music isn't played on the radio - this is not the case with U2 - all the concert's highlights are songs you're already familiar with - even if you're not a U2 fan, songs like 'Mysterious Ways', 'New Years Day', and of course 'Vertigo'.

The audio mix is fantastic. The guitars, keyboards, vocals, and crowd noise is all very perfectly balanced to give a sound that is crisp and dynamic, while preserving all the energy of a live show, which results in a sound that blends the best of both studio and live recordings. And if you think it sounds good on your stereo - you should really listen to it with a good set of headphones. Amazing. The DVD might be the best *sounding* U2 recording out there.

And the whole thing is quite the spectacle thanks to a legion of electricians and lighting guys, probably at least a dozen cameramen, and THOUSANDS of light bulbs.

But, for all the non-stop flashing lights of being inside a 360-degree pinball machine... at the end of the day it's not so much a fine piece of silver as it is a lot of shiny polish on an ordinary piece of tin.

It's a shame, The Beatles, The Doors or even Queen came before it was possible to get this kind of audio and video quality, because any one of those bands could blow U2 away on their own stage. And, for all his faults, even a drug-addled and bloated Vegas-era Elvis never stopped and cleared his throat in mid-song saying, "I've got a frog in my throat".

When it comes right down to it. If spectacle is your thing, it's here - but, you'd be better off seeing KISS for a flashy stage show; at least they have no pretensions of artistry. If on the other hand, the artistry of the musicians is your thing - that's here too, but you'd probably be better off checking out David Bowie, Peter Gabriel or the Talking Heads for that.

Still, as concert films go, the technical expertise of the craftspeople that made this film shows through. As a concert film it is fantastic. We've come a long way since Martin Scorsese's 'The Last Walz'. U2: Vertigo 05: Live from Chicago sets the standard for concert films of the new millennium.

Too bad the band's talents aren't equally high.

If you're a U2 fan, you'll love it. If you're not, you still might be entertained.

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