Sitting through an entire U2 concert, albeit from the comfort of your own sofa, will reinforce two absolute truths of which you're already well aware: U2 are one of the greatest rock bands the world will ever produce, and Bono is a complete and utter arse.
These two facts collide much more dramatically when you can actually see him, fornicating with the camera or dressed up as his alter-ego MacPhisto - a simpering Devil in a gold lamé suit, sequined platform boots and an English accent, if the image isn't burned indelibly into your memory already. It's simultaneously extremely irritating and a stark reminder that nonetheless you can bear to sit through it, which is the wake up call you were waiting for to confirm just how good the music is. Good enough, you see, to make you able to tolerate Bono. That's quite a feat, which makes it quite some music.
And there's the rub. Zoo TV was quite some music delivered during quite some rock world tour. Its 157 shows over 22 months, from February 1992 to December 1993, were watched by more than five million people; immortalised here from Sydney, Australia, in November 1993. It was multimedia before the term existed, placing the band in front of a stage filled with 36 video screens and 176 microphones, all of which took a million watts of electricity to operate. So much for saving the planet, Mr Hewson.
On every conceivable level, the Zoo TV tour genuinely pushed boundaries. Following on from Achtung Baby and expanding what had originally been planned as an EP into the fully fledged Zooropa album - recorded and released while the band were still on the road - the tour saw U2 consolidate their expansion from typical (albeit better than average) indie-punk guitar boys who occasionally indulged in the odd keyboard into a multifaceted, experimental, Euro-industrial megadon poised for world domination. It was a challenge they faced and succeeded with aplomb. No matter what else you may want to accuse U2 (or, okay, just its singer) of being, boring and predictable was not, in 1993, among the options.
The show opens with white-noise wall of static Zoo Station, mimicking the information overload from CNN, the internet and satellite TV channels in the days before most of the audience had a clue what any of these were, looking more like a leftover set from Bladerunner than the future U2 were predicting with remarkable accuracy. They continue with The Fly, another song whose visual element is as much a part of its whole as its sound. Music for the MTV generation that needed to be watched as well as just listened to and which peaked with Numb, the Edge-sung techno fest that was released only as a video single, inseparable from its visuals.
They're not ashamed to include straight rock reminders of their earlier days - including 1983's New Year's Day (the oldest song played here) - nor American-pandering stadium fondlers such as Angel of Harlem and (Pride) In The Name of Love. There's even four songs from their 1987 album the Joshua Tree, which they claimed they had tried to "chop down" with their more recent efforts. The thrust of the show, however, is the more European - and specifically German techno-influenced - songs from Achtung Baby, which contributes eight of its tracks to the set list, through virtually all of what would become Zooropa, the studio album released during the tour.
Bono struts in front of screens that broadcast everything from the Nazi propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will to Martin Luther King speeches, duets with a satellite-TV image of Lou Reed on Satellite of Love and sits amid a sea of lighters-aloft adoration for One, a song which has since become a perennial poll-topper for one of the greatest of all time.
Zoo TV is an amazing achievement, musically, visually and socially. U2 really were making a statement about the future of multimedia at its very conception, in a way that we can perhaps only now fully appreciate. And they were doing it by putting on the greatest show on Earth.
Amid all of this, there are moments of vulnerability from the Great Bono. Times when, rather than strutting and posturing, he pauses for a second to look out over the audience as if, just maybe, he can't quite believe it's all real. Love him or hate him, watch this and tell me you don't wish you were there. I dare you.