David Staples, Edmonton Journal, June 11, 1997
You know you're a goofy, over-zealous U2 fan when you start to refer to their hit songs as WOWY, ISHFWIL4, HM-TM-KM-KM, and LNOE. (That's With or Without You, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, and Last Night on Earth.)
The Internet is buzzing with this kind of insider talk right now. U2's hardest-core fans are writing hundreds of reviews on dozens of Web pages about the PopMart show. The show has been crossing North America, visiting 16 different cities in the past two months. It will be here Saturday and Sunday.
The Net reviews are full of gossip and factoids. One new souvenir item for sale: yellow u2 condoms in a PopMart package.
In Memphis, when Bono pulled his trademark trick of serenading a women pulled from the crowd, the woman started to kiss his chest. "She wasn't in some kind of squealy-girl love trance but was surprisingly gave for Bono's love dance, to his apparent surprise and delight," writes fan Miles Goosens. "If only she wasn't wearing those godawful ultra-baggy jeans that all the kids sport these days. (SIGH)."
At the Denver show, a guy got past security and ran on stage. He lifted Bono, set him down, then dived head-first into the crowd. Bono appeared unfazed, even ad libbing lyrics to the song Mysterious Ways about the jumper: Are you all right when you hit the floor? and He moves in mysterious ways.
The majority of the Net reviews of PopMart are raves (indeed, one fan compares PopMart to a giant rave, with pulsating techno music, lights, and a DJ).
"I guess I can retire from concertsknowing that I have reached the top of the Mount Everest of shows," writes Mike Harlan in Columbus, Ohio.
"Arrowhead Stadium ROCKED, and my shoes smell like beer," writes Aaron Kivett in Kansas City.
"How could you not get chills and even laugh a little when they emerged from the Giant Lemon after the break?? That was so cool!" writes Mark H. Johnston in Dallas.
Some fans are excited by stranger PopMart moments. "Watch for drummer Larry Mullen Jr. licking his lips and making faces at the camera during Mysterious Ways," writes Tom Worall in Columbus.
Many fans yearn for old songs that aren't being played, such as Bad, Dirty Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and New Year's Day. The consensus is the most eciting songs in the show include two old ones, I Will Follow and Pride, plus four new ones, Gone, Last Night on Earth, Please and Miami.
There are the usual, justified complaints from fans in the nosebleed seats about the sound being so bad they can't understand Bono. Fans are also complaining that PopMart is too big, the tickets too expensive. "The cheesy stage props really took away from the music. I went to see a rock concert and wound up at the circus," writes Todd Schofeild in Eugene, Ore.
"Even though it's not hip to say this around Bono these days, this show is exactly the opposite kind of approach which made U2 special (I think Larry Mullen agrees with me in his heart of hearts - and so did you!)," writes Sean King in New Jersey.
"If they played the music people wanted to come and see, not this new crap, maybey they would not have to cancel shows," writes Art in Washington, D.C.
This kind of talk, of course, only prompts counterattacks.
"Anyone who didn't enjoy that show needs to take that Joshua Tree and ZOO-TV out of their BUTT!!!!" writes Josh in Columbus. "PopMart totally chopped the Joshua Tree to bits and set it on fire, and it put ZOO-TV off the air."
"Screw the money issue. It's not one," writes Dominic Aulisio in Columbus. "They played their hearts out with such remarkable intensity that I don't think it could be priced. If you are a music fan, see this tour."
The best news for Edmonton? The show gets the worst reviews in places where the band has played a dozen times, and in places where tickets didn't sell. (Half the seats ahve been empty for some of the U.S. shows.)
One fan was so let down by the lack of energy at the Dallas show that he was ready to dismiss PopMart as PoopedMart. "Bono seemed tired, distracted. His heart had wandered somewhere else," writes Mike Martin.
But in places like Salt Lake City and Eugene, where U2-starved fans packed the stadiums, the band responded with their finest efforts. "The crowd tonight was unbelievable, and the band knew it. You could tell Bono was impressed," writes Sterling Longwell in Utah.
So expect U2 to be as revved up on concert day as Edmonton is about the show. Expect Commonwealth to be as blissed out as the Coliseum was during the Oilers playoff run. Expect a mass musical revelation.
But only if the guys sing UTEOTW.