Paul "Bono" Hewson - vocals; David "The Edge" Evans - guitars; Adam Clayton - bass; Larry Mullen Jr. - drums
While U2 has released many official live albums, none of them capture the group at this stage in their career. This show was recorded less than a year after the release of their full-length debut, 1980's Boy, and before the release of their 1981 effort, October.
The highlight of the show is the explosive passion and energy shown by the group's four members, all of whom are in their very early 20s. While there may be technically more impressive live releases from the Dubliners, few recordings capture the vitality and exuberance that they had as youngsters trying to forge a career before their rise to fame. This is a sound of a band, rooted in punk, on the cusp of finding their own unique voice.
For fans of U2's early material, this show is undeniably a treasure, because the group runs through their entire debut release, save its closer "Shadows and Tall Trees." It also features many of their non-album numbers, such as "11 O'clock Tick Tock" and "Cry." Musically, the performance is driven by the Edge's trademark melodic stabs and reverb-soaked melodies, especially apparent on the instrumental unreleased favorite, "Things to Make and Do." Bono is overflowing with charisma and confidence, which is apparent even in his youth. Mullen and Clayton build a rock-solid rhythmic base that allows the group's other two members to really go out on limbs to express themselves.
While few at the venue that night could have predicted their meteoric rise, so much of what makes the group great was on display. This recording is sure to delight all fans of U2, from the diehard to the casual. The best tracks here are "Twilight," "11 O'clock Tick Tock," and "I Will Follow."
When a 15-year-old drummer named Larry Mullen Jr. posted a note on his school bulletin board looking for fellow musicians, he couldn't have known that he was planning the seeds of what would become one of the biggest bands in the world. Of the four musicians who responded to Mullin's ad, three of them, Paul Hewson (aka Bono), Dave Evans (aka the Edge), and Adam Clayton (aka Adam Clayton) would join with Mullen Jr. to form Feedback. Feedback (which became the Hype which became U2), would soldier on over the new several decades (and counting). Along the way, they released innumerable classic albums, performed all over the world, and used their unique voice to become involved in world politics and human rights.
Off the strength of their electric concerts, U2 built a solid buzz and fanbase, which helped them land a three-year deal with CBS Ireland. In September of '79, the boys released a three-song EP called U23 (Island, 1979), which paved the way for extensive touring, and an edgy LP called Boy (Island, 1980). While Boy and the introspective, spiritual October (Island, 1981) gained the group critical acclaim, their next three albums would make them stars. War (Island, 1983), The Unforgettable Fire (Island, 1984), The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987) were all unmitigated successes, with The Joshua Tree winning countless awards, including the Grammy for Album of the Year. Achtung Baby (Island, 1991) put a triumphant period on their decade, with Entertainment Weekly naming it the third best album of the last 25 years. From 1991 to 2000, the group slowed down a little, only releasing two LPs, Zooropa (Island, 1993) and Pop (Island, 1997). While these albums were experimental and, arguably, uneven, they both sold over a million copies in the US, though neither failed up to live up to the band's lofty standards.
However, the group fired back up the charts with 2000's expansive return to form, All That You Can Leave Behind (Island/Interscope) and 2004's sweeping, political How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (Island/Interscope). The two albums saw the group scale back the dance experimentation and focus on creating the hooky, heartfelt anthems that made so many fall in love with them. They continue to sell out arenas all over the world, and record new music.