Zoo TV Live From Sydney (video)

The opening to Zoo TV was overwhelming. Sensory overload is the term usually used, and it is totally true. The two times I saw Zoo TV live I was absolutely blown away by the opening, trying to look in every direction at once, trying to hear everything, and knowing that everywhere I was looking there were twenty things happening that I wasn’t seeing. It was wonderful.

Zoo TV Live From Sydney is the definitive version of the Zoo TV tour, of course. Everyone knows it, knows how the songs went and the words that were spoken. U2 is a very rehearsed group, as they have to be, and despite minor changes to set-lists you can just about guarantee what you’re going to see night after night, what Bono is going to say and when he’s going to say it, and so on. This is not necessarily a bad thing, like I said they’re so big they have to do it that way, but it means that this version of the show can stand in for any version that you were actually at. So I can watch and talk about this show, and reminisce about the ones I was at, and probably conflate many of the memories. Curious to see what happens in the Innocence & Experience tour, since the two shows are supposed to be different. How will they release a single concert video? Maybe they’ll do two.

The first time I saw Zoo TV I was near the main stage, about ten people back from in front of Edge. The second time I was by the second stage, just one person between me and the stage. My memory of that is pushing through the crowd to try and get to the front, and having people block me off because of the barrier in the middle (crush barrier I guess, so everyone didn’t rush the stage), and so turning and managing to get so close to the second stage. Ahh, good times.

I always wanted to get the words on screen during The Fly, write them down and put them into a screensaver. Still haven’t checked the Achtung Baby DVDs to see if it’s on there. I’d want to put it on my computer at work though, and then I’d probably get fired.

In real life the stage is so much bigger than it appears on tv. Long shots during the show suggest that they are ants way in the distance, but that’s not true at all. If you’ve ever been to any sporting event you know what I’m talking about, that the field looks much larger in person than it ever did on tv.

I’m not a big fan of Numb, but it’s good to see Larry get some singing time, breaking out of his shell a little. I think Bono is offstage for this song, right? His lyrics are taped I assume, since you never see him during the song. Which means that it really is scripted, because if it’s a tape you have to match it exactly. Let alone that if you have such a video extravaganza you can’t go off script too much because you’ll lose sync with the video.

Are there any definitive versions of songs on this video? Angel of Harlem certainly. I guess any songs not shown anywhere else would have to be definitive. Dirty Day is, and it’s a really good version too. The entire flashing of lights and banging of drums really has things pumping. Running To Stand Still I love, but the definitive version is still Rattle And Hum. Of course the whole thing is definitive for the Achtung Baby/Zooropa period in the band’s history. Which leads me to the last part of the show, with the uniform changes for the band - those blue military outfits, I don’t remember the point of those - and then Bono as a devil. Mr MacPhisto. I hope he looks back at that and cringes, I certainly do. He had a point to it at the time. It’s creepy now though. Amusing. Not quite so fun when it’s close up like that, better with a little distance.

It’s not a live show - in person live, I mean - but it’s the next best thing. As everyone knows, U2 live is the best show in the world, so this is close to the top of the ratings. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this period, and for any U2 fan anywhere.

And so to the unanswered question: What did the first punk rock girl wear to school?

My rating for Zoo TV Live From Sydney: 9 / 10