Concert Preview: The people demand, U2 delivers

The U2 concert started at 7:30 p.m. That meant we had to leave San Diego at noon to give ourselves plenty of time. So with pedal pressed to the metal, we were speeding across the desert to Las Vegas to watch U2 perform live.

Fast-forward to 11:30 p.m., and I am following the crowd leaving the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus. My head is spinning and my ears are ringing, which are the marks of a good concert, but I couldn’t shake the thought that if U2 wasn’t U2, their live act would be pretty cheesy.

There was that touching moment when Bono embraced the American flag, or that other moment when Bono pulled a fan up on stage to play guitar with the rest of the band. Then there was the moment when the massive video screens behind the band scrolled the names of every victim from the flights that went down on Sept. 11, including New York City police officers and firefighters.

It’s all very touching, but it could have been pretty sappy if some second-rate band tried to pull the same stunts.

But U2 isn’t a second-rate band. They are socially conscious superstars who have fought for peace in their native Ireland as well as around the world. They have been at the forefront of the “”Drop the Debt”” campaign, which calls every superpower in the world to cancel third-world debt.

U2 can afford to pull these stunts and pull them off beautifully.

They ran a flawless three-hour set that included songs from the old days, such as “”Sunday Bloody Sunday”” and “”I Will Follow,”” as well as more recent ones like “”New York”” and “”Elevation.”” Bono even brought out the familiar spotlight during an incredible performance of “”Bullet the Blue Sky.””

Bono’s voice wasn’t top notch, but he saved it for the times when he needed it. The Edge was incredible, as usual. Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton were rock steady.

Any doubt that fans had after U2’s “”Popmart”” tour have been erased as U2 continues to “”elevate”” to legendary status.