Live: Under a Blood Red Sky

5 out of 5 stars

Let me preface this review by saying that I am not a U2 fan, but take a look at the number of stars up at the top of this review and you’ll begin to understand how crucial this recording is. It’s so critical, in fact, I think they should make it a law for everyone in the state to own this — because as Colorado goes, there is no recording anywhere that I am aware of, that captures Red Rocks so perfectly.

Many of you are probably asking why I’m doing this review now, since Under a Blood Red Sky was released in November of 1983, just five months after the epic show in Morrison. Well, this album and DVD combo isn’t the same. It’s a new release with some tracks that have never before come out, and yes, it includes a DVD of the show with five previously unreleased songs.

To those who are really in the know, Under a Blood Red Sky was put together from three recordings from the band’s tour that year, but because Bono says, “This is Red Rocks. This is the Edge” on the album, everyone assumed it was all from that show — a show that was almost cancelled. While the concert took place in June of 1983, it seemed like mid-October, a rainy, dreary night that looked more like U2’s homeland than Colorado in the summer.

Legendary concert promoter Barry Fey (who is shown in the DVD introducing the band) wanted the show cancelled and moved to the Coliseum because of the bad weather, but the band, who had invested all of their savings up until that point in the video shoot, insisted it stay at Red Rocks. Fey was pissed because, to him, the issue wasn’t the band but the audience. When The Marquee interviewed Fey in 2006 he said the decision to keep the show at Red Rocks was ultimately the best decision they could have made. “If we had moved the show inside, or if it had been a nice day, it would have just been another concert,” Fey told The Marquee.

But anyone who knows even the smallest amount about U2’s career knows that the concert and the videos that ran on MTV from the show catapulted the band to fame and taught a generation of kids about the magic of Red Rocks.

The only flaw in the entire package of the CD and DVD combo comes on the DVD side and it’s nothing the producers could help — it’s the atrocious early-’80s fashions worn by the fans, and the ridiculous, absolutely embarrassing white-man over-bite dance that Bono does during the song “Party Girl.” But even those “flaws” can be looked over as campy nostalgia.

If any note of any show has ever made your hair stand on end at Red Rocks, do yourself a favor and purchase this set. It’ll happen again. Trust me.

— Brian F. Johnson

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