The Elevation Tour was a worldwide concert tour by the Irish rock band U2. Launched in support of the group's 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind, the tour visited arenas in 2001. After the band's previous two extravagant stadium tours, Zoo TV and PopMart, the Elevation Tour returned the band to indoor arenas with a much more stripped-down, intimate stage design. A heart-shaped B-stage extended from the main stage, while encapsulating many of the fans.
The Elevation Tour comprised three legs and 113 shows and was seen by about 2.1 million people. The Elevation Tour opened on 24 March 2001 (27 September 2000 when promo tour included) with the first leg in North America, the second leg in Europe that summer, and the third leg back in North America that autumn, ending on 2 December 2001. The tour was the top concert draw of 2001, grossing $143 million, and was top draw in North America, with the band's 80 shows grossing $110 million at ticket prices of $45–$135. Its success was capped off by the band's performance at the Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show in 2002. The tour was depicted in two concert films, Elevation 2001: Live from Boston and U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle.
The Elevation Tour's stage design was by Willie Williams and Mark Fisher, designers of a number of U2's tours. Unlike its predecessor Zoo TV and PopMart tours, Elevation was a simpler, stripped-down affair, hitting indoor arenas instead of outdoor stadiums. The key feature was the stage, which included a large heart-shaped ramp which jutted halfway out onto the arena floor, creating a glorified catwalk. Some general admission ticket-holders were placed inside the heart, on top of which band members could walk, getting closer to the audience on both sides. Visual images were presented on scrims mounted high among the lighting rigs, sometimes in dynamic swirling fashion such as for "Kite", and even on the entire indoor surface.
Lead singer Bono would reiterate during shows the promotional theme of both the tour and the new album, that after the relatively poor sales of Pop and sometimes poor reception of PopMart, "We're back, re-applying for the job ... And the job is best band in the world."
The European leg of the Elevation Tour was also presented in arenas. However, several outdoor shows were played due to logistics and facility requirements. These included both of the Slane Castle shows, which were part of Ireland's annual Slane Concert. For these two performances, the "heart" was extended and widened in order to accommodate the more than 180,000 people who attended. The Turin show was played in a football stadium, with a black U-shaped semicircle extending out into the crowd instead of the heart. The Berlin show was performed in a natural outdoor arena with a tent-like structure supporting all the band's flown gear such as speaker stacks and lighting rigs. Due to the limited amount of space available for production, the top of the heart was placed at the front of the stage. During this leg, Bono regularly flew back to Dublin after each show to be with his dying father.
The third leg of the tour began in the U.S. only a month after the September 11, 2001 attacks and in the midst of the 2001 anthrax attacks. This nearly led U2 to cancel the leg, but they decided to continue, starting it at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, home of the "Fighting Irish". While some fans shied away from coming to an ordinarily celebratory occasion or to a large, enclosed public gathering, many other fans did not let these events stop them. The tenor of the times dramatically affected the temperament of the shows, with Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" appearing frequently in the setlist and the band's "Walk On" taking on added emotional weight.
Shows would traditionally open under the venue house lights with the Influx mix of "Elevation" playing as the band's intro music. "Elevation", the tour's title track, would then kick off the show, and would then be normally followed up by "Beautiful Day", "Until the End of the World" and "New Year's Day". Occasionally, "Discothèque" or "Mysterious Ways" followed "Until the End of the World" instead of "New Year's Day".
For the first two legs, most shows would then use "Kite", "Gone" and "New York" early in the setlist. Sometimes "Discothèque" or "Even Better Than the Real Thing" was played between "Gone" and "New York". All tour shows would see "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" Normally, one out of "I Will Follow", "Out of Control" and "11 O'Clock Tick Tock" would be played before "Sunday Bloody Sunday". "In a Little While" would then normally be played (sometimes "Sweetest Thing" or "Wake up Dead Man" would be played), and that would be followed by a full band acoustic rendition of "Desire" and then an acoustic song, normally "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)". Sometimes "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", "Staring at the Sun" or a cover of "I Remember You" by The Ramones would be played instead.
The acoustic song would then normally be followed by the live favourite "Bad", which had appeared few times on the previous PopMart Tour. On occasions, "All I Want Is You" would be played instead. "Where the Streets Have No Name" followed, which was played at every concert. Normally, the band would then play "Mysterious Ways" with snippets of "Sexual Healing" at the end of the song and a new version of "The Fly" with the Edge playing guitar and Bono performing at the end of the heart catwalk. On occasions, "The Fly" would be replaced by "Pride (In the Name of Love)". After playing either "The Fly" or "Pride", the main set would end and the band would leave the stage.
U2 would then open the encore with "Bullet the Blue Sky", usually accompanied by Bono protesting against gun crime and giving a speech against handgun crime, while using a smaller version of the spotlight he used on The Joshua Tree Tour. "Bullet" would then be followed by "With or Without You". The band would then normally play "One", which was played at every concert. On occasions in the first leg, the band played "Pride" or "The Fly" between "With or Without You" and "One" with the other one of those two songs played after "Mysterious Ways" at the end of the main set. "Wake up Dead Man" was sometimes played after "One", if not after "Sunday Bloody Sunday". "Walk On" would then be played as the outright show closer.
The third leg saw some alterations to the setlist to reflect the much more emotionally poignant times that existed within America in the wake of the September 11th attacks. After opening with the same trio that they opened the first two legs with, the band would then most commonly play "New Year's Day", "I Will Follow" or "Out of Control", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" and "Kite". "Angel of Harlem" also made appearances either before or after "Kite".
The band's acoustic slot was moved forward, with "In a Little While" dropped altogether and the acoustic slot taking place after "Kite". Normally, "Wild Honey" and "Please" would be played. "Please" also made one appearance in its electric form, in a similar style to its Popmart performance where it would run into "Where The Streets Have No Name". Most shows however would then see be similar to the first two legs, with the main difference seeing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", played once in the first two legs, given a regular slot between "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" while the regular for the first two legs in that slot, "Mysterious Ways", was dropped for most of the second leg.
The encore would once again contain "Bullet the Blue Sky", "One" and "Walk On". Instead of playing "With or Without You" between "Bullet" and "One" as they did on the first two legs, the band would instead play a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and "New York". A few times, the band played "Peace on Earth" between "One" and "Walk On".
Overall 53 songs were played by U2 with six songs ("Elevation", "Beautiful Day", "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "One") played at all 113 concerts, and a further three tracks ("Bullet the Blue Sky", "Until the End of the World" and "Walk On") only missing one show apiece on the tour.
Following the Elevation Tour proper, the band performed a three-song set during the halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI. The set opened with "Beautiful Day", with Bono entering through the crowd. Next was "MLK". The highlight was a performance of "Where the Streets Have No Name" in which the names of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks were projected onto a tall backdrop, scrolling up towards the sky. At the end of the song the backdrop was released, descending to the ground in a gentle revisiting of the World Trade Center's fall. Bono then opened his jacket, which he had worn throughout the Elevation Tour, to reveal the American flag printed as the lining, an image that was widely reproduced in the media. In 2009, SI.com ranked it as the best halftime show in Super Bowl history.
Two DVDs of the Elevation Tour were released. The first, Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, was released in December 2001, and included material from three different shows filmed in June 2001 in Boston at the then-named FleetCenter. The second, U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, was released in November 2003. Filmed on September 1, 2001, it captured the outdoor variant of the show at the Slane Concert performance. It was directed by Hamish Hamilton.
The Elevation Tour was the year's top-earning North American tour, grossing $109.7 million, the second-highest figure ever at the time. In total, the tour grossed $143,472,379 from 2,179,642 million tickets sold. Spin named U2 the "Band of the Year" for 2001, saying they had "schooled bands half their age about what a rock show could really accomplish". At the 13th annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards, U2 was honored with awards for Major Tour of the Year and Most Creative Stage Production for the Elevation Tour, while Paul McGuinness was recognized as Personal Manager of the Year. Willie Williams won Live Design magazine's 2001 EDDY Award for his work on the tour; the award stated, "While U2's current Elevation tour is striking in its simplicity, Williams created an almost complete amalgamation of lighting and video by using the entire space of each arena as a projection surface."