Yet one need only view Popmart Live alongside the Rolling Stones' contemporaneous Bridges to Babylon 1998 long-form video to grasp U2's underlying passion and conviction. While Popmart trumps the Stones (ringmasters of the original rock & roll circus and among the principal inventors of stadium rock) in terms of sheer scale, U2's presentation still strikes thematic sparks missing from the Stones' more conservative designs for the Bridges stage.
With its vast, ramped stage and enveloping video backdrop, the Popmart set serves the band's posttechno impulses, yet the music remains rooted in U2's passionate, high-flying rock style, using its skittering dance rhythms and garish pop-art motifs to support the band's underlying themes, not replace them. Filmed in Mexico City before a huge reverent crowd, the concert balances close-ups against the quartet's often mesmerizing staging effects; the camera work sustains a sense of the show's outsized physical setting, while expertly closing the distance between us and the band.
The band also shrewdly integrates older songs into the pumped up, burnished arranging style heard on Pop while stripping down newer material in less varnished, more vulnerable settings. A series of duets with just Bono and the Edge on acoustic guitars underscores that strategy. --Sam Sutherland
Disc 2 1 Please 2 Where The Streets Have No Name 3 Discotheque 4 If You Wear That Velvet Dress 5 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me 6 Mysterious Ways
The audio quality of this feature is also considerably better than the Zoo TV video (but not as good as the Elevation video). I noticed that when I copied some of the songs to a CD so I could listen to them in my car. Zoo TV had some fun segments and some great songs too, but for me Pop ranks a little higher. My copy of the Unforgettable Fire I purchased on e-Bay as it is out of print. Unforgettable Fire contains some great videos from U2's earlier years (including "Pride," which is one of my favorite U2 songs and videos) and some documentary footage as well. Joshua Tree is a great video also; one of my favorites.
From the brilliantly lighted, colorful view screens and the luminous arch over the stage to the blinding glow of the "space lemon" that rolls out in the last set of the concert (as the members of U2 descend through billows of stage smoke), and all the wonderful techno sounds, light show, video and sound effects that permeate this exhilarating concert performance, this is a cool show indeed! Definitely unique from other U2 shows and lots of fun. I'm happy to have this as part of my collection.
Note to people who are especially sensitive to swearing: there are a couple of moments in this show where there is some minor use of bad language.