Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"He said, 'It's better.' "

There isn't a whole lot more I can add to the afore-mentioned review of the U2 concert, but I'll put down some thoughts, and some of my favorite moments.

We sat behind the stage (stage-right side). About 40-50 feet from the stage. Amazing seats for the price. Some friends who went through a ticket "service" (legalized scalpers), paid $200 a piece for upper upper balcony nose-bleeds. Our two tickets were a hundred combined, plus fees.

The opening act was one of the Marley offspring. It was...interesting. There was one guy on stage whose sole purpose was to walk around waving a flag. There were also some women singing and swaying. The main guy (Adrien Marley?) had dreds down past his butt. He danced as he sang, the kind of hopping-skip you often see in reggae acts, swaying back and forth enough to swing the dreds around. You couldn't understand most of the lyrics, but the music was good. I picked out the words "Rasta" and "Jah" a few times, and the word "Zion." I leaned over to my companion and explained what I knew of Rastafarianism.

I got up and went to the swag table in the hallway. Stood in the press of people for about twenty minutes. Listened to the tipsy people behind me curse and complain about the wait. Watched the tipsy people in front of me ask to see EVERY SINGLE T-SHIRT and then send them back one by one. I'm thinking, "You've been in line for twenty minutes, you haven't made up your mind yet?!?" But then again, they were short. Maybe they couldn't see. A guy cut in front of me from the side and was waited on; this caused me to miss out on the last poster available. (There were posters printed up with the date and location of that night's performance. That was rad. I was upset to miss it.) Finally I got to the front, bought my shirt, and went back to my seat a few minutes before the lights went down and the crowd went nuts.

During the show:

--I loved the light curtains. If you haven't seen pics of this, you need to check this out. They were long strings of this round white bulbs that were lowered from the ceiling. They were programmed to do different colors, and even to show animation. Two of the coolest things, besides the many flags during "Streets", were a fighter plane in flight, swooping back and forth, during "Bullet the Blue Sky"; and the animated image of a man walking during "Sometimes..." The man had a circle for a head, and was wearing a short-sleeved white oxford shirt and dress pants, and even though he was in profile, you could just make out the swaying movement of his tie. I thought that was amazing.

--"Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" was just a heartbreaking performance. Bono would be walking around the "ellipse" (a runway built out into the floor, so that fans could stand on both sides of it). Throughout the song, he would turn and sing directly to the "walking man."

--The whole story of the "arrival" of the Edge from outer space was awesome. The U2.com article says, " 'He's from a planet called ZOOTOPIA,' explains the singer. 'The thing about Zootopia is that this planet is also in the future. So Edge had to come back through time and space to be with myself Adam and Larry in the north side ofDublin in the mid seventies. And his spaceship was playing those four notes.' Edge, of course, is now playing the opening four notes of Miracle Drug. 'So when it landed this creature got out: 'I am the Edge.' '' But Bono went on with the story. He said that he asked the Edge, "What's the future like, then?" and the Edge responded, "It's better."

Chills, man. Just, chills.

--At the end of "Sometimes...", while it's just Edge playing, Larry goes out to the crowd-side point of the ellipse with a single, large drum. (I'm not a drum guy, so I can't tell what kind of drum it was.) Then the band starts in with "Love and Peace" and just rips the roof off. Larry is just banging this drum like mad: bum BUM bum BUM bum BUM bum BUM. Then, Bono, after the first verse and chorus, takes over for Larry, and Larry goes back to his drum set to play the rest of the song. Bono sings the song and drums with one hand, on top of Larry's drumming. During the instrumental part of the song, Bono is just banging the heck out of this drum, with both hands: wham WHAM wham WHAM wham WHAM wham WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM. Both hands raising above his hand and then crashing down onto the drumhead. Like a possessed monkey-toy playing the drum. There was something positively tribal about the energy and aggression Bono had.

Too many moments to talk about. Okay, okay, more.

--Someone on the floor had a Texas flag, but with the Irish colors (white, green, and orange). I thought that was neat.

--They played "Miss Sarajevo." I LOVE that song. And he told the story behind it, which I'd never heard. And Bono sang the Italian part. It was beautifully imperfect. Like so much great music.

--Bono did a bit about the CoExist graffiti. That was cool. "Oh, Father Abraham, you need to talk to your sons..."

--He talked about the One campaign, and about how he loved that America, in the midst of its own problems, still reached out to help others.

--He dedicated "Bullet the Blue Sky" to the brave U.S. troops. That was cool.

--While talking about the hurricane relief, Bono broke out into "Old Man River." The Edge strummed, and Bono sang the chorus a few times. Then the band left the stage. (There would be two encore sets.)

--Bono added a line to the end of "The First Time." Originally, the last verse of the song said, "My father is a rich man, he wears a rich man's cloak/He gave me the keys to his kingdom (coming)/Gave me a cup of gold./He said "I have many mansions/And there are many rooms to see."/But I left by the back door/And I threw away the key." During the show, Bono added the line, "But Grace gave it back to me," before singing the final chorus, "And for the first time, I feel loved." Awesome.

--He pulled up a woman on the ellipse walkway for "With or Without You." It was funny though, because you always think of this as a really romantic moment, but the woman apparently felt a little awkward. Clearly, she dug it quite a bit, but there was one point where she started to pull away from his embrace, and he held her to himself, and pushed her head down onto his shoulder. Finally, she stopped fighting, and he finished the song. That kind of made me laugh.

--They played "Fast Cars"!!!! I'd never heard this song before. U2 does flamenco! It was cool because Bono grabbed a Mexican Flag from the crowd ("the tri-color along way from home"), and threw it over his shoulder as he flamenco danced beside the stomping and turning Edge. That was an awesome moment.

--And of course, "Yahweh" and "40" were amazing.

--My favorite Bono lines (besides the post title): "Thank you for coming out, standing in line, and giving us a great life." AND "Sun was shining today - Miss Texas looked so beautiful. Anyway we still got a job to do and for this band it feels like we're just getting started."

I sure hope so.

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