Live Review: U2, Wembley Stadium, 11th August 1993

Salman Rushdie, under sentence of death by the Ayatollah's of Iran, stands on the stage in front of 72,000 with Bono's Satanic alter ego, MacPhisto.

"Real devils don't wear horns," he tells us as the two showbiz luvvies congratulate themselves on how much they believe in free speech.
This, along with giant fishtanks, dancing belly, Trabants (Yup, still there!), oversized swastikas, burning crosses, ghosts of Elvis and Lou Reed, punters' vidoe box ("...then she found out I was fucking her husband as well..."), satellite link-up with Sarajevo, etc., etc., is all part of the sensory overload, underscored by The Edge, Adam, and Larry, that allows Bono, at least, to say what he likes as loud and as long as he likes - including quoting a bit out of the latest Fly Column - while at the same time limiting and belittling people's ability to think by jamming their brainwaves with this fame-charged, multi-media cosh.

Like some giant psychedelic jellyfish, the eclectic, 'interactive' ZOO-TV circus descends on the masses, stinging them into acquiesence with the sentiments of Zooropa - i.e. that we're all living in a mass-consumerist, rolling news, computer-game, ads-ads-ads, comfortably numb nightmare/society that stops us seeing the holocaust on our very doorstep (Bosnia, dudes!) and other end-of-the-millenia cataclysms.

Sure, Bono, but don't you realize that what you're doing is all part of the numbing process? MacPhisto, pale and weary after yet another stadium gig too many, cackles an ironic laugh.

When I heard the great U2 songs of the early years -- I Will Follow, Out Of Control, Fire, -- I too wanted to climb scaffold and shake the world. But, now, listening to the numbing, anemic, minimalist strains of Babyface, Satellite, or the lush, multi-layered textures of Mysterious Ways or One, I just feel like selling my soul for a comfortable MTV cocoon.

New Year's Day, Bad, and Pride work as much by the memories they revive as by the merits of tonight's performance. Despite their affected, post-modernist wackiness, I can remember a time when U2 were a truly insane band rather than just a bunch of well-heeled eccentrics in funny clothes

U2 are too big to have fans now; they just have consumers. After the show, outside the stadium, there are big piles of shit, probably left by police horses (Were they actually expecting a riot?).

"Watch out!" someone cries. "There's some of Bono's bullshit."

previously unpublished

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