What a beautiful way to start a strange day.
It began at the Dolby screening room on the corner of 55th Street and Sixth Avenue (there behind the big LOVE statue) where 3ality Digital, National Geographic Films and Murphy PR were screening “U23D.”
The 90-minute concert film (which dispenses with the behind-the-scenes and verite elements that made “Rattle & Hum” creak and groan) captures Bono et all at Vertigo tour stops in Mexico City and Buenos Aires. And I’ll be honest: I found myself choked up more than once during the film.
It’s a pretty staggering visual achievement. The 3D is cool. 3ality Digital has certainly brought it along way since Vincent Price’s “House Of Wax.” The glasses are sleek black plastic — not all that different from Bono’s, actually. The digital picture is crystal clear. The added dimension is impressive, whether panning across Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, and ducking a fan’s enthusiastically spastic arms. It’s especially effective in adding depth to the band’s already impressive stage show. Between the eye-popping, skyscraping Jumbotrons and the colorful clouds of spotlit dry ice, the band looked as if they were performing on an alter or in a war zone in equal turn.
Moreover, the sound was pristine. Bono’s voice boomeranged my around head, while Edge’s guitar whizzed and zoomed past me like a jet. Better yet, every muted chord, drum click — even the sound of Bono thumping his chest with his fist — was audible.
The film’s biggest — and most moving — success, though, was in capturing the narrative arc and inspirational feel of U2’s live show. Bono does a bit somewhere between “Love And Peace Or Else” and “Bullet The Blue Sky” where he straps a white bandana with the Islamic crescent, Jewish Star Of David, and Christian cross all emblazened in black magic marker.
“Jesus, Jew, Muhammad, it’s true,” he says. “All sons of Abraham.”
Now, I don’t know a ton about specific theologies, and I understand the flaws in putting a pop star in a pulpit, but for my money, it works. Without preaching or propaganda, U2 brings closer to God than almost any experience I know. He picks up where both John Lennon and Martin Luther King left off.
“I believe in the Kingdom come,” he sings. “Then all the colors will bleed into one.”
Is scrolling The Universal Declaration of Human Rights across the Jumbotron a bit heavy handed? Maybe. Do I mind a little medicine with my honey? Not at all. The world is sick. It’s needs all the medicine it can get.
I watched every last credit roll, grinning behind my 3D glasses as the final image of an animated heart faded to black.
Back in the world, New York City had gone dark. A sharp, frozen rain was falling like shards of glass. I raised my collar, turned up “Until the End Of The World,” and walked towards my office.