U2

Mexico

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One of the numerous U2 bootlegs that surfaced in the 1990s, Mexico focuses on a December 3, 1997 arena show in Mexico City. This two-CD set would have easily made the grade as an official live album; from the excellent sound quality and the attractive art work to U2's inspired performances, there's a lot to appreciate about Mexico. The group's set lasts a generous two hours and 13 minutes, and they keep things interesting by providing a healthy blend of 1980s and 1990s material. Long-time followers will appreciate hearing passionate performances of gems from the 1980s, including "I Will Follow," "New Year's Day," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Bullet the Blue Sky," "With or Without You," "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." But U2 was hardly resting on their laurels in the 1990s, and Mexico is far from an exercise in 1980s nostalgia. Although 1993's Zooropa isn't a priority, U2 performs most of 1997's Pop as well as four songs from 1991's Achtung Baby ("One," "Even Better Than the Real Thing," "Until the End of the World," and "Mysterious Ways"). Adding a touch of intrigue, the electronic elements that U2 brings to parts of the concert acknowledge such rave-friendly styles as techno and trip-hop. But Mexico leaves no doubt that U2's members are arena rockers at heart -- and ultimately, Mexico is about songs, guitars, melodies, and lyrics rather than beats. Technology becomes a side dish instead of the main course, which is as it should be. Mexico isn't recommended to the casual listener, but the seasoned fan who holds U2's 1980s and 1990s recordings in equally high regard will find it to be an exciting document of the band's 1997-1998 tour.