U23D CONCERT MOVIE: Even Better Than the Real Thing?

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U23D CONCERT MOVIE: Even Better Than the Real Thing?

From where I hear it, the last couple of U2 albums have been a musical retreat from their innovative albums of the early 90s such as Achtung Baby and Zooropa, the only albums by them I have ever taken seriously.

Prior to that I thought they were pompous, Bono’s messianic stage attitudes irritating when they weren’t plain nauseating, and their music bellowed its self-importance.

But with Achtung Baby and Zooropa they took musical risks, incorporated much needed humour and irony in their work, and ridiculed their self-created image and the mass media in general. They were truly a cutting edge band and with the Zooropa and PopMart tours they also expanded the boundaries of what was possible in a stadium concert. Even if you didn’t much go for video screens firing disconnected epigrams and images or the sheer conceit of the concepts, you’d at least concede you hadn’t seen anything like it before.

And you will doubtless be saying that about this film shot in 3D at Central and South American concerts on the final leg of the Vertigo tour which they brought here last year.

Even if this weren’t thrown up onto an Imax screen the 3D quality is extraordinary and immediately renders redundant any previous 3D experience you might have had. Certainly you get the glasses -- large Elton-inspired embarrassments -- but this is a whole other 3D experience.

Those of a technical persuasion will thrill to learn this movie utilises in-camera motion control and some blah-blah about fibre optics -- but for the rest of us the attraction is cameras taking you to a point above Larry Mullin’s drum kit, standing alongside The Edge and Adam Clayton, being right there in the baying crowd, pulling back to take in the full sweep of the stadia, peering into Bono’s facial pores . . .

And all this in a 3D clarity which, at the session I was at, had people reaching their hand out to touch the band -- because it looked like you could. So forget your experiences of something at Disneyland, this is exceptional 3D (and 5.1 sound) and U2 are at the edge of this technological breakthrough as they were back in the ZooTV days.

Frankly I wished the music and stage attitude was like then too, but this set errs to the anthemic (all the popular stadium fillers and cellphone-wavers like Bullet the Blue Sky, Pride, Where the Streets Have No Name and so on) and Bono reverts to the earnest posturing. Musically it only burst to life with the opener Vertigo, the powerful Miss Sarajevo and the encore of The Fly.

But oddly enough this is a concert film you can enjoy even if you aren’t into the band or the set list. This is a concert like you have never seen one, closer than you could ever get. Even better than the real thing though?


This is an expanded version of a review which appeared in the New Zealand Herald www.nzherald.co.nz 

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