Southpark Meadows, Austin, Texas, USA – June 11, 1983
(77:34) Out Of Control, Twilight, An Cat Dubh / Into The Heart, Surrender, Two Hearts Beat As One / Let’s Twist Again, Seconds, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Cry / The Electric Co. / Send In The Clowns, I Fall Down, October, New Year’s Day, Gloria, Party Girl, 11 O’Clock Tick Tock / Drowning Man, I Will Follow, 40
U2 would play the city of Austin, Texas on every American tour in the 1980’s, the “Live Music Capital Of The World” would embrace a multitude of genre’s in a non discriminating fashion, the young group of Irishmen would find a kinship with the audiences there. By the time the band would hit the city during the 2nd leg of the War tour, their drawing power would have them play an open air venue called The Meadows. It was basically a field with a stage, plenty of room for all to dance and enjoy the music. The band were hitting an incredible stride during this period, the previous week they had played Red Rocks in Denver, a performance that was recorded and would be immortalized on the “Under A Blood Red Sky” record (a couple songs) and concert video.
The recording featured here is a near excellent audience recording, the taper had a good spot as the recording is detailed with all instruments and vocals being balanced nicely. There is a bit of audience noise, but I find this only adds to the excitement of the recording, you feel as though you are among the crowd. It has a typical warm analog sound, if anything it lacks a wide frequency range and it’s a bit flat sounding, but this is a minor quip, it in fact sounds great when turned up loud. The performance is excellent, U2 were playing with heart and passion, delivering their unique message to the youth of America, and the World.
In his review of the concert, Austin American Statesman staff writer Kevin Phinney had this to say “U2 is steadily losing its baby fat, but traces of youth remain, if only as a reminder that these four individuals have yet to turn 25. There were some stage histrionics, including Bono’s ill conceived notion to drop a surrender flag into the audience, only to retrieve it when a fight broke out over who should be the audience honor guard. Still the “War” LP is the band’s most melodic and rhythmic record, more jagged and forceful than either predecessor. Guitarist The Edge altered between his instrument, a slide guitar and piano, Adam Clayton bubbled in the background, and Mullen drummed out the most solid three man percussion since Mitch Mitchell backed Jimi Hendrix.”
The band play a fiery set of music from the first three albums plus a couple of b-side slash rarities, they open with a trio of Boy tracks, Out Of Control starts the concert proper and from what you can hear, the audience follow the war cry. They follow immediately with Twilight then Bono makes a quick speech about their history in playing Austin that leads to “The Cat…An Dubh”, the song segues nicely to Into The Heart. The band seem to be feeding of the audience a bit, just prior to Two Hearts, Bono tells The Edge to “Get It together…c’mon” with an urgency to it, the crowd are into it clapping together, as one.
Sunday Bloody Sunday has the “stage histrionics” Mr. Phinney wrote about, Bono starts with leading the crowd through shouts of “No More…No More” while waving the white flag and throwing it into the crowd, something that starts a fight for ownership, he then has to stop and tell “White flag..don’t fight over it…it’s stupid”, the majority of the crowd is not bother and they awkwardly get back into the “No More” chants. October is quiet and gives the audience a chance to regroup and chat briefly, the arrival of New Year’s Day almost catches them sleeping. An electric version of Gloria ends the main set, Bono introduces the band to some fanfare, the audience clambers for more.
Bono introduces the first encore as something they don’t play a lot, only when they feel it, they felt it a week before in Denver and they feel it on this night and we are treated to Party Girl. I first heard this song back in 1983 when I first got the Blood Red Sky record and have loved it ever since. 11 O’Clock Tick Tock follows but it takes I Will Follow to get the energy level back up to the max, the audience sing along with the band, they’re ready even when the band wasn’t! The somber 40 ends the concert proper. While listening to this concert, I thought about Bono as a front man, the energy he was giving at this point was at a high level, and he was doing it night after night, very impressive.
The packaging is a tri-gatefold sleeve with live shots of the band, I like the hazy look and the lower part being somewhat red, this to me is like an “unofficial” companion to Under A Blood Red Sky. The inner part has a list of the second leg of the War tour, dates and venues. After listening and reviewing mostly Joshua Tree and Joshua Tree 2017 concerts, this one shakes off the dust so to speak, an electrifying performance and a great title as well.