July 1, 1997
Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro Massachusetts

by Mike Squatrito

Let's get one thing straight from the start. U2's POPMART tour is not about establishing themselves as the best band in history of rock, it's about money. The boys from Ireland basically told corporate America to screw and decided to put together the k ind of show which cost them $250,000 a show. Ticket prices range from $32 to $52. After seeing the show I have one thing to say -- get out your cash!

After tailgating in the parking lot for a couple hours, it was time to make my way to the stadium. I paid the $52. I had the pink ticket, not a blue one like the commoners. Flashing the pink like an FBI agent at a crime scene, I made my way passed the throngs of blue ticket holders without incidence. Passing one security checkpoint after another, I was able to get to my seat at the forty yard line. It was then that I really took in the scene.

A 170' x 60' video screen took up the entire end zone, a massive yellow arch protruded into the night sky, a huge lemon with a cocktail stirrer was set to the right of the stage, and finally a stage extension made its way to about the forty yard line, al lowing the fans on the field to have a close up with the boys. This was going to be a show that would not disappoint.

Then, the lights went out. Bono, Larry, Adam, and The Edge emerged from the blackness with an entourage of security guards. Bono, dressed in a hooded robe like a heavyweight champion heading into the ring, led the boys to the stage extension where they kicked off Boston's version of POPMART with Mofo. The video screen exploded into a myriad of video images of the performers, the sound system blasted their latest creation into the surrounding neighborhoods. The show was underway.

Unlike many new bands, U2 has the luxury of not having to force feed any of their new work onto their fans. Yes, "POP" needs to be listened to a few times to appreciate the art work, but their mix of old and new songs could not have been better. Rarely were two new songs performed back to back, rather, they were spaced out enough to allow the fan to appreciate it on its own. Staring At The Sun was a classic example of Bono and The Edge using their musical talents in blending the biggest hit on "POP" into a fantastic acoustical version of the song. And the blending of Miami and Bullet The Blue Sky couldn't have been better.

Aside from the new songs, U2 performed the hits that made them what they are -- New Year's Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love), With Or Without You, ... the list goes on and on. The only glaring exception was Sunday, Bloody Sunday but one can't complain. And if that was not enough, we all had the pleasure of singing karaoke with The Edge to Neil Diamond's mega-hit Sweet Caroline (only The Edge could pull this one off, trust me).

After their first "encore", the lemon was transformed into a silvery disco ball. It slowly made its way to the end of the stage extension. With much anticipation, the driving beat of Discotheque started. The lemon opened, allowing everyone to see the boys doing their best Village People imitation. Unfortunately, this signalled that the end of the show was near. The boys finished off with Where The Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Kiss Me Thrill Me Kill Me, and One. After a stirring standing ovation, the show was over.

As I made my way back to my car, one thought was on my mind. Seventeen years. Let that one roll off your tongue a few times. Seventeen years. That's how long it has been since U2's first album (not CD, they weren't invented yet). Longer than The Bea tles, Led Zeppelin, and many of the other "Greatest Bands of All Time" stayed together. Make no mistake about it -- U2 is still the premiere band. R.E.M. is a distant second as far as I'm concerned. And, no new alternative band has the money to put on a show like this. As Bono said to the crowd when asked why the band didn't go with corporate sponsorship, he merely explained "... it was either do it their way or get eaten by the monster. We decided to eat the monster."