U2 – Los Angeles 1992 1st Night Mike Millard Master Tapes (Wardour-431)

Los Angeles 1992 1st Night Mike Millard Master Tapes (Wardour-431)

Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA, USA – April 12, 1992

Disc 1 (43:16) Zoo Station, The Fly, Even Better Than The Real Thing, Mysterious Ways, One, Until The End Of The World, Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World

Disc 2 (61:47) Angel Of Harlem, Satellite Of Love, Bad, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Where The Streets Have No Name, Pride (In The Name Of Love), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Desire, Ultraviolet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Love Is Blindness

The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 42 features Mike Millard’s recording of U2 from the first leg of the Zoo TV tour. The concert was the first of two concerts played in Los Angeles at the 15,000 seat Sports Arena. The band first played the Sports Arena in 1982 as the opening act for J Geils and would return to the Arena on their subsequent tours for the next decade. Mike’s recording is an excellent capture, a perfect balance of instruments and vocals with a wonderful range of frequencies. It is certain Mike was not in his sweet spot and you can hear a bit of distance in the recording but you also get more atmosphere because of it. Mike was also in a distant sweet spot, while there is crowd noise, it is not right next to him so none of the casual chatting like on the Jimmy Page 1988 recording. This is an extremely crankable recording and gives one the feeling of being there and as with my other Millard reviews, a bit of information from the original torrent:

U2, Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA, April 12, 1992

Yes, Mike Millard was a U2 fan. He recorded multiple shows on the Zoo TV tour (indoors and out it would appear), and may well have done the Joshua Tree tour in 1987 too, though we aren’t able to verify that quite yet. This U2 show is the latest 1992 recording we have released in the Lost and Found series. While the full picture of when Mike stopped taping remains incomplete, we know he recorded two shows this month (a second U2 show in San Diego on April 15), and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest he also did U2 in San Diego in November 1992, which would be the final Millard tape on record (though it is possible there are recordings after that).

4/12/92 was first of two nights in LA on the Zoo TV indoor leg. It is one of several occasions I have come to learn that Millard and I were both at the same show, taping in the same venue which, I’m not going to lie, gives me the tingles. I’m a massive fan of the Zoo TV tour, especially the indoor concerts. The two shows in LA, April 1992 were extraordinarily tough tickets. I got into both by working the drop line at the box office day of show for several hours.

The Zoo TV arena leg was pretty much a perfect set. It begins with complete immersion into Achtung Baby and moves from strength to strength through the full show with a lot of key Joshua Tree material on the back end. There are very few concerts that completely blew me away, but this is one of them. By the time U2 reached LA, the 1992 tour had hit its stride. This is peak Zoo TV.

Given the distance plainly evident in the recording, Millard was not taping from his optimal sweet spot. As I have written before, audience excitement levels on U2’s 1987 and 1992 tours were off the charts and arguably in excess of a classic rock artist in the mid ‘70s (more women in the audience may account for that). You couldn’t record U2 in this era without getting a lot of audience noise. Millard isn’t close to the PA and his capture won’t stand among his very best, but it still highly listenable, full and mostly clear (with occasional moments of fuzziness likely due to microphone positioning). I had taping issues myself and failed to get a result. After doing comparisons on the extremely useful website, Millard’s tape seems to be uncirculated, is arguably as good if not better than KeithM’s recording (the previous standard for 4/12/92), and is far superior to the other versions of the show.

The ZOO Tv Tour was notable for its massive multi media presentation and for the band playing all new music for the first 45 minutes of the concert. So confident was the music that the band play ten of the twelve songs from the record, One being a massive hit by this point and for me, is one of the highlights of Mike’s recording, you can hear the audience singing along with the band, incredible atmosphere. Bono looks striking in his Fly persona as the band open with Zoo Station, lots of women hollering and certainly dancing to the fat Adam Clayton bass lines. Bono thanks the United States for The Pixies before Even Better Than The Real Thing, this tour would go on to do damage to The Pixies who would break up the following year. What is interesting is the contrast in the material, Mysterious Ways has the audience in party mode where One has them rather quietly singing along, it is certain that the band has completely taken over and immersed the audience in the performance. Unlike their previous tours, Bono keeps his lyrical improvisation to a minimum, the main one is during Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World where he adds lyrics from Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds into the mix…”Don’t worry bout a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright”.

The band play a short acoustic set beginning with Angel Of Harlem and a cover of Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love, the latter featuring Bono singing falsetto. The band had recorded the song during the Actung Baby sessions and released it on the B-side of the One single. The band delve deeper into the past two records with Bad being in direct musical contrast to the onslaught of Bullet The Blue Sky. I love the more minimalist version of Running To Stand Still with Bono interjecting Hallelujah into the latter part of the song just prior to a wonderful harmonica ending.

The Joshua Tree material is, as one would expect, very well received and garners full audience participation from singing and clapping to loud cheering with the Sports Arena turning into a singular voice during Where The Streets Have No Name. Just before I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For Bono talks of it being an election year and the choosing of the next President, something that certainly rings true for those of us in the USA. The final songs of the concert seem like they are more to illuminate, Bono throwing a bit of Shine Like Stars into With Or Without You is brilliant if a bit nostalgic. Love Is Blindness ends the concert on a quiet note, far from the full on in your face assault of the opening, Bono finishes with a simple “Good night”, a good night indeed.

This is a well played and extremely enjoyable concert, the performance draws you in until the end and at times, stimulates thoughts about a multitude of topics. The sign of all good music, enjoy and stimulating to the brain centers. The packaging is the standard full color inserts with a plethora of live shots of U2 from the ZOO TV tour plus picture discs and numbered sticker. Another fabulous Mike Millard recording presented for our listening pleasure.

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