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U2 kicks off LA shows trying to prove they're still relevant and not a nostalgia act

by Brian De Los Santos | The Frame

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U2's Bono performs on July 8, 2011 in Montreal, Canada, part of their "360" tour. Rogerio Barbosa/AFP/Getty Images

You either know U2's music, or it showed up on your Apple device. They're back on tour, and Tuesday night, the band performed the first of five shows at the Forum in Inglewood.

Instagram U2 embed

The last time they performed in the Los Angeles area, they were at Pasadena's Rose Bowl in 2009. They're out to prove something with their new tour.

"Bono, by his own definition, is a very competitive guy, and I think he views this tour's setbacks as a challenge," Randall Roberts, pop music critic for the L.A. Times, tells the Frame. He was at Tuesday night's show.

They still command enough interest to play five shows, which are almost all sold out. But there's still the spectre of the bad publicity from that iTunes release, when their "Songs of Innocence" album magically popped up in music libraries everywhere.

"They can buy their own ubiquity because we've heard these new songs... whether you wanted to or not," Roberts says.   

Here's one of them, which they frequently open their shows with:

 

"Even though it's [a] really, really energetic, catchy song, it does kind of feel like you're hearing [an] Apple logo song," Roberts says. "It's the way we hear it at this point, because they're so connected with Apple."

The tour's highlights, according to Roberts

  • The good: "Beautiful Day," a great anthemic rock song
  • The bad: New material, part of tour which made the fans respond a little less excitedly than they do to the older stuff embedded in their memory
  • The set up: The speakers were suspended over the audience and it sounded great all over. The Forum is an oval, and the show was set up with two different stages at both ends, with a catwalk in between
  • A second visit after these shows? Roberts says it's definitely happening

With contributions from Paige Osburn

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