Under a Clear Blue Sky at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
21 August U2007
Hello! Hello! We're in a place called Morrison!
Or, more precisely, Red Rocks, the storied concert venue that has had many an historic event happen upon its main stage.
Tuesday night was no exception.
A sold-out crowd of 8,000 turned out for the Denver Film Society's final "Film on the Rocks" of the season. For the first time in the event's eight years, people had to be turned away from an amphitheatre that was bursting at the seams with Bonoholics and movie lovers alike.
As part of the summertime tradition, attendees were treated to a concert and a movie, all in the magnificent outdoors of Red Rocks. While the Cinderella Twin Drive-In, only a few miles down the road is, sadly, counting down to its final frames before being razed in the name of "progress," "Film on the Rocks" is thriving with its mix of rock 'n' roll 'em.
Of course, it's always good to have a little help from your friends, like Under a Blood Red Sky, the Denver-based U2 tribute band that headlined the evening's entertainment. Also on the bill: a real, genuine wedding on the Rocks followed by, appropriately enough, Wedding Crashers.
Indeed, the party spirit was in the house as the white flags gently fluttered in a mild summer breeze.
While the stormy weather that helped U2 gain worldwide recognition with its map-placing tour-de-force 24 years ago failed to make a repeat appearance, it was, instead, Under a Blood Red Sky that took to the stage in the name of love.
Their set began as a recreation of one of Red Rock's most revered performances, but in a nod to newer and younger fans, the band went on to perform a multi-era set attired in outfits replicating the days of War, The Joshua Tree, Elevation, and even ZOO-TV.
The set list packed in many of the band's biggest hits, including "Where the Streets Have No Name" and a stellar take on "Vertigo," but it also featured early gems like "Gloria" and "Two Hearts Beat as One." The band's ambitions took a super-sized chomp on the nails of success and, a couple of technical glitches aside, they rose to the occasion with panache.
The Edge's guitar riffs induce goose bumps around the globe and this band's Edge (Ted Gravlin, or "Tedge") deftly recreated those magical notes. Given the spotlight during a sterling guitar solo, Gravlin nailed it while playing "Mothers of the Disappeared." That music in that venue is enough to awaken the ghosts of concerts past and make them dream out loud all over again.
On drums, Jerry Bousquet rocked the stage to its core while Todd Brown smoothly and casually filled in for the smooth and casual Adam Clayton.
Then there's Billy Bunting, or "Billy Bono." The vocal range was there and the physical dexterity was there, but more importantly, the passion was there. Whether he was on the main stage or shouting from the rooftop of a Red Rocks concession stand, Billy Bono earned the crowd's enthusiasm.
And enthusiastic it was; there's no denying Denver loves U2 and U2 loves Denver.
Even so, amazingly enough, Tuesday night marked the first time a U2 tribute band ever performed at Red Rocks. But, given the unabashed earnestness of Under a Blood Red Sky and the U2-starved crowd that ate it all up with relish, it won't be the last time.
In fact, June 5, 2008, the 25th anniversary of the original U2 performance, is already reserved for somebody to take the stage.
Recalling when Bono described U2 as reapplying for the job of the world's biggest band, Billy Bono asked the crowd if Under a Blood Red Sky got the job. The response was a resounding "yes."
But even Billy Bono would have to concede that, at least in this one particular case, there's nothing better than the real thing.
The invitation – and petition – has been put forth. The biggest band in all the land is invited back to a place called Morrison next year.
Bono... Hello? Hello?
Out of Control
An Cat Dubh
Sunday Bloody Sunday
New Year's Day
Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl
11 O'Clock Tick Tock
I Will Follow
Where the Streets Have No Name
Pride (In the Name of Love)
- The Edge: Guitar Solo -
Bullet the Blue Sky
With or Without You
For more information about U2 tribute band Under a Blood Red Sky, please visit the band's website at www.underabloodredskyband.com.
Originally published at Interference.com.