The Twins have been sold with a contingency. The Vikings are now up for sale. And U2, the Irish rock band, wants to turn the Metrodome into a shopping mall.
Sorry guys, it was done with the last stadium in the Twin Cities. But that didn't prevent 30,000 fans from buying into U2's Pop Mart Wednesday at the Dome. U2, one of rock's most thoughtful and serious groups, tried to present a rock-spectacle-as-social-commentary. Not everyone got the messages about art as commerce, because this two-hour multimedia journey was like the Camp Snoopy of rock.
It was loud, garish, fast-paced, often thrilling, sometimes fantastic, always fun -- and overpriced ($52). And, judging by the reaction, many fans probably would go back again.
The first half of the experience was filled with all kinds of new rides -- high-tech, state-of-the-art, brightly colored adventures that challenged consumers who don't have a copy of U2's latest CD, "Pop," a bold excursion into cutting-edge techno rhythms. The harsh electronic drum-heavy sound also challenged the acoustics of Minneapolis' thunderdome, which has never been friendly confines for rock concerts.
Part of the problem with these "Pop" songs was that they don't have sing-along choruses, which have been a trademark of the anthems that made U2 into arguably the world's biggest rock band. Things began to turn around when U2 offered familiar rides, starting with the 1983 anthem "New Year's Day" followed by 1984's hit "Pride (In the Name of Love)," the night's emotional high point as lead singer Bono invited the fans to sing the final "oh ooh o"s by themselves. Then things began to get intimate, believe it or not, in this crass (plastic) cavern of commercialism. Bono had a friendly little chat about U2 playing at Uncle Sam's (now First Avenue) years ago and writing two early songs, "Brick Through a Window" and "Stranger in a Strange Land," in the Twin Cities. He then thanked the faithful for years of support and told them he hoped they liked all the props -- a giant golden arch, an oversized lemon and a video screen that looked half the size of a football field -- because "you paid for it."
Then came another surprisingly intimate moment -- "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," a Bic lighter anthem that Bono recast into a gospelly tune. And the concert become increasingly intimate with Bono's soulful heroic wails and a three-song acoustic set on a ministage at the end of a long runway. "Staring at the Sun," the band's recent single, was a true pop moment with wonderful pop harmonies, and the Edge soloed on guitar and vocals on "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
That politicized 1983 anthem led into the politics of "Bullet the Blue Sky" and the Irish peace plea "Please." Eventually U2 returned to its current obsession with electronica for "Discotheque" (during which the four U2 musicians made an entrance from a mirrored giant lemon) and a reshaped, dance-happy "Mysterious Ways."
Throughout it all, Bono played many mysterious roles including prizefighter (when he entered the ring, er, Dome ), apeman, preacher, pitchman, fighter pilot, pop star and ultimately rock singer, which was his most convincing and important role.