U23D: the review

Going to see U2 in a theater with a screen roughly the size of the Pop stage doesn’t really seem that incongruous. U2, life-size Bono, South America, seems like a no-brainer – and for the most part it was.

I’ve been loving the coverage of the movie premiere at Sundance: “You mean to tell me that Yellow Submarine has a narrative arc?” (Bono, in response to some trainspotter criticizing the film’s lack of cohesiveness).

1) There’s no doubt that this was the right band to test this technology. Big and bold and loud – but not loud enough. It’s a concert film. TURN IT UP.

2) I found myself fascinated by the oddest things, like – what drink, exactly, does Larry Mullen, Jr. have next to his drum stool, within arm’s reach? Iced tea? Mint Julep?

3) The film needed a pause, and a zoom, mostly so I could see what, exactly, Bono had taped to the stage in front of his mic.

4) Every person in South America owns a tiny digital camera. Or at least so it seemed every time any member of U2 got near the edge of the stage.

5) The setlist is incredibly deficient. Where were some of the no-brainers like “Elevation,” or “City of Blinding Lights”? I mean, “Miss Sarajevo” is compelling and all but it’s not “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” This was a BIG SCREAMING MULTIMEDIA THING and not the place for subtlety.

6) You know those guys at every concert who get up on each other’s shoulders, take their shirts off, and wave them around in a circle above their head? They have them in South America, too. (Former readers will be interested to know that woo girls also exist in S.A.)

7) I realize that any song from “Achtung Baby” is going to present a tempting opportunity to recreate ZooTV in 3D format. However, when “The Fly” gives me the only time to watch all four members of U2 wearing instruments and jamming together at center stage, I do not want to have my view obscured by words and letters at the front of the screen.

8) If you went to this movie to see anything, it would be “Streets,” right? I got goosebumps just thinking about it during the opening notes. South America, 100,000 people, if God was ever going to walk through the room, it would be here, right?

It was so underwhelming it was just sad. “With Or Without You,” a song I hate and despise (HI SHARON), was more compelling than “Streets” in U23D.

9) You will find yourself scanning the crowd, at least I did. You are looking for the people like you, the people like your friends, the people that are like the annoying people you don’t want to be near at any concert. But I liked that. The commonality is refreshing.

10) Cutting between cities/venues in one song was terrible. I felt cheated later. This isn’t a Disney ride.

While it was definitely U2, it didn’t really give you the feeling of seeing them, I don’t think. I think “Streets” in Rattle and Hum, in all its one-dimensional simplicity, gives you that feeling a million times more than U23D did. I am glad I saw it for free, if I had paid for it I would have felt more than a little ripped off.