Sydney [1996]

Zoo TV represents U2 at their most ambitious. The multimedia event combines two stages with live music, pre-recorded tracks, and 36 screens flashing an array of words and images. (Video artists include Kevin Godley, Anton Corbijn, and Brian Eno.) The theatricality extends to the quartet themselves, since Bono, as "The Fly," enters the scene in black patent leather--shades of '68 Elvis--while Adam Clayton sports a platinum mohawk. In order to recreate the experience for the home viewer, slogans are superimposed over footage from this 1993 engagement, e.g. "question everything," "this is not a rehearsal," etc. As Bono quips, "The latest and greatest in software, hardware, and menswear--we've got it all here." With so much going on, the most dynamic material tends to work best, like "The Real Thing," "Bullet the Blue Sky," and "Mysterious Ways," complete with belly dancer (in keeping with the song's Moroccan-set video). The foursome also tackles a few covers, like Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love." Towards the end of the latter, Reed appears via video monitor to sing along. Arguably, the whole Mister MacPhisto thing--Bono as satanic lounge lizard---doesn't quite work, but U2 deserves props for taking chances when most bands in their position would be resting on their laurels. With the accent on material from Achtung Baby and Zooropa,Zoo TV: Live From Sydney first appeared on VHS in 1994 and garnered a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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