U23D at the Dublin IMAX
Irish rockers 3-D concert film is a stunning breakthrough
This has been a big rock 'n'roll week. First, my all-time favorite band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rocked the halftime show of the greatest Super Bowl in history. Then, we finished work at Diablo on an awesome package about the greatest rock groups to come from the East Bay. Look for it in the upcoming March issue. After the final pages were done, I celebrated by going to see the spectacular new concert film, U23D at the Dublin IMAX Theater.
U23D rockets up the list of all-time great concert films, as well as the somewhat shorter list of great IMAX films. Released by National Geographic Entertainment, the film was shot at a U2 show in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in an enormous soccer stadium toward the end of the Vertigo tour. I saw this concert at the Oakland Arena in 2005, and thought the band put on a pretty terrific show. However, I remember being frustrated by the acoustics, as Bono's vocals would garble between the electric guitars bouncing off the cement ceiling of the Arena.
In the IMAX format, the sound quality is exquisite. You can hear every note of every instrument, sans feedback. The picture is even better. Cameras swoop over the stage, offering perspectives on the band you simply can't see in a live setting. The film opens with images of the Brazilian crowd entering the stadium the minute the doors open. Enthusiastic fans rush through the stadium, across the field to those coveted front row spots along the barrier in front of a giant stage. Soon Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen are on stage, blasting through "Vertigo", "Beautiful Day", "Bullet the Blue Sky" and, of course, "With or Without You". The band members fill the IMAX screen like moving sculptures, bathed in dramatic lighting. And the audience is fantastic—images of adoring fans singing along to every word enhance the excitment of the concert.
One splendid inclusion to the set list is "Miss Sarajevo", a song the band originally recorded with the great opera star, Luciano Pavarotti. Bono provides an adequate replacement for the Pavarotti vocals, and the song ends with a moving declaration of human rights on one of the stage's giant video screens.
The film runs 82 minutes, which is just the right amount to wear those silly glasses and experience the sensory overload of the 3D images. My eyes started to tire by the end of the film, as they have with every 3D film I've tried to watch since my friends and I went to see Jaws 3D at the old Regency Theater in 1983. Admission to the IMAX screening was $15, worth every penny—especially when the lights dimmed and the film started without commercials or previews. If you're a U2 fan, you simply have to see this film in IMAX 3D. And go soon—the afternoon screening I went to had only five other people in the audience. (there was, however, a massive line of little girls waiting outside the theater to see the Hannah Montana concert movie...sigh)