Vertigo 05 Live from Chicago, recorded in May of 2005 at the United Center in Chicago, accomplishes what any concert DVD seeks to do, simultaneously capturing the experiences of seeing U2 live and of seeing them from the impossible perspective offered by just such a recording. Both true fans and curious newcomers will appreciate the all-out production and emotional intensity included in this show, exemplified beautifully by the well-balanced mix of old and new tunes. The band lives up to its on-stage reputation with entertaining and impulsive stage antics that fall just short of becoming awkward. Bono handles this best: throwing water at the crowd, pretending to be a stripper, pretending to be a monkey, pretending to pet a cat, petting bassist Adam Clayton as if he were a cat, curling up in the fetal position by an amp, and inviting a 12-year-old boy on-stage to be serenaded during "Into the Heart" (a boy who would have appeared to be an obvious plant if not for the slightly bewildered look on his face). More serious and politically charged moments fill the performance as well, but always accompanied by musical choices that make them evocative or enthralling, yet rarely heavy-handed. "Running to Stand Still," for instance, a performance that Bono dedicates to the men and women of the armed forces, glides into a somber "Hallelujah" prayer, which in turn leads into an on-screen projection of the International Declaration of Human Rights, read by a woman whose face is cast onto billowing smoke. The resulting tenderness is palpable and the crowd's participation in the moment is moving. Conversely, Bono's choice to don a bandanna featuring the word "coexist" written with a crescent moon, Star of David, and cross in place of the C, O, and T creates a more intense image and builds tension. Soon afterward, he and drummer Larry Mullen both take turns banging feverishly on a tom-tom brought out onto the catwalk during "Love and Peace or Else" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Many images -- such as Bono and Adam Clayton performing back-to-back amidst an eruption of golden light and a sea of outstretched hands -- are pure magic. However, others -- such as Bono pulling the bandanna over his eyes, dropping to his knees, and crossing his hands above his head like a prisoner -- are poorly lit or engulfed in glare, an unfortunate artistic choice that gives the viewer no clear view of what is undoubtedly the most iconic image from the tour. Frantic cuts to different camera shots during more fast-paced songs are at times too quick to follow, in essence creating a blur. As a whole, however, the program captures a musical performance that the members of U2 may look back on as a seminal moment in their careers.
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AllMusic Review by Cammila Collar