Well, the concert was fantastic. They are incredible performers, and I can honestly say I’m not sure I’ll see a better concert for the rest of my life. I was right to put it on my bucket list, and I was right to cross it off my list, even if it meant splurging a bit!
The set itself was incredible– specially designed so that the concert could be seen from every angle, with an exterior walkway attached with moving bridges, a 360 television that grew and shrunk, incredible lighting — including what must be the world’s largest disco ball, twirling at the top of what appeared to be an alien space ship.
Waiting for them to come:
I was so happy that they were playing in such a small stadium. I was surprised they weren’t at LP Field, where they could have sold at least 20,000 more tickets, and having it in such a small stadium meant the show sold out in a matter of hours (whereas there are still tickets available to their remaining shows) and we had to pay a pretty price for our tickets on craigslist… but it was worth it. We were in the endzone, pretty high up, but still closer to the stage than we could have afforded in the other stadiums. (I know this, because I just looked on ticketmaster at the other shows. Because…yes, I would go again…)
I loved our seats, even if they were a bit far away — I liked facing the stage straight on, I liked being able to see everything and having a grasp of the immensity of the crowd, and I appreciated the fact that we were positioned just right so as to get a nice cross breeze. It was a hot day, but we didn’t notice it as much as we might have otherwise.
We had to put up with a whacked-out performance of Florence the Machine, who has that Dog Days hit. I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s a fairy. Or a Druid. She was strange. But we were patient, knowing that the best was yet to come…
Then after she finally got off the stage, we waited a bit … it needed to get dark, after all. While we waited, they had random statistics run across the enormous 360 degree television screen. Some of them had to do with demographics, others with trivia facts like how many presidents had no siblings (none), and some were sort of politically-driven (how many days will our oil last). One that shocked Mary and I:
Unfortunately, we weren’t shocked by the number (although we should have been, but since we’re both active in the prolife movement, we were expecting such a high number), but by the fact that it was included as a stat. Most people don’t want to think about it — much less see it ticking up, right in front of their face. And it was ticking — about one every second. Kudos to them for putting it in front of our faces.We waited and waited… and then the stadium lights went off. And the crowd went nuts. And suddenly, on the 360 degree television screen, you saw four men casually walking out of a door and walking together, in a line… and we went nuts…
They walked up steps, and we saw them emerge on stage. And we were still going nuts.
U2 hadn’t played in Nashville in 30 years, and the city welcomed them back with open arms!
Highlights for me:
-They played The Wanderer, the Johnny Cash song, with just Bono and the Edge on stage. It’s a song they’ve never performed live, and since Johnny Cash sings the song, not Bono, I wonder if it wasn’t a bit of a gutsy move. But it was awesome– Bono did a great imitation of the Man in Black, and it was a great tribute to the man and the city.
-They played Amazing Grace and then went into Where the Streets Have No Name. It was pretty sweet — much of the stadium was singing along to the spiritual, and it just had a very authentic feel– not contrived at all.
The television screen was nuts. It showed the concert, it showed doodles during the songs, it even showed Mark Kelly greeting us from space and introducing Beautiful Day (with Bono dedicating the song to Mark’s wife, Gabrielle Giffords). That was awesome.
The television grew:
-the disco ball — I wish I could have gotten a picture that gave a better idea of how crazy it was. The whole stadium turned into a dance hall when this huge ball and spot lights started turning. It was awesome.
-With or Without You. Only my Christendom friends will really appreciate this, but… it was one of the last songs they played. When they left the stage for the first time, I knew they had to come back because I couldn’t imagine them not playing With or Without You. And I somehow knew it would be one of the last songs — I was sort of hoping it would be last. (For some reason, WOWY was often the last song played at Christendom dances. It’s to the point now where I can’t hear the beginning of that song without it taking me back to that feeling… standing on the dance floor, doing a quick look to the right and the left, realizing no one was going to ask me to dance, then wondering why the song wasn’t just “without you”… :))
But the ultimate highlight — and I think every one of the 51,000 people in attendance would agree — was at the end of the show. The four of them took their bow, waved goodbye… and then Bono saw someone in the front. He said something to him, then said to the band, “Gents, we have a surprise guest,” and before we know it, there’s a random guy on stage with Bono.
Bono hands him his guitar, the guy dedicates it to his wife Andrea, admits his nervousness — and then Bono begins singing “All I Want is You.” We’re all going nuts, and we continue to go nuts — it was as if we were all living vicariously through this guy in his striped shirt, jean shorts, and backwards baseball cap. At the end of it all? Bono gives him his guitar.
It turns out.. the guy is blind, and was holding a sign that said “Blind Guitar Player.” Bono lifted him up on stage, asked him what song he wanted to sing, and ended up giving this guy the best U2 moment he could ever ask for. Please go watch the video here. It’s incredible.
I love that song — and the line “Eyes in a moon of blindness” had a bit more impact than it ever has before.
The story is everywhere now, as it should be. It was a great moment.
And it’s sort of a segue to these last thoughts. The show was pretty heavy with the social justice message of Bono. I don’t think that’s surprising to anyone — it wasn’t surprising to me, although I didn’t know it would be to such the extent that it was. I hesitate to call it the political message of Bono, because he wasn’t pushing a certain political party or candidate. We know he’s supported political candidates in the past (ones that I don’t agree with), but that wasn’t his message tonight. And I think that’s what made it easier to swallow. He was preaching, but he was preaching more the message of human dignity and justice and human rights than anything. I don’t know much about his organization One, and I need to look into their work with the HIV/AIDS patients to see the morality of their agenda, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t agree with him and say he’s a fake.
And maybe he should just stick to the music. We were all there to hear him sing, not to hear Desmond Tutu talk to us about equality. But let’s face it… Bono has great power. And with that comes great responsibility. He had a captive audience of 50,000 people. Should we blame him for getting on a pulpit?
Maybe he is a fake. But his actions with the blind guitarist seemed to point in a different direction. When he lifted that man on stage, he came off his Bono pedestal and came down to the common man. And I think he deserves respect for that. Was it hard for him to sing one more song? Was it a huge sacrifice to give up a priceless guitar? No, probably not. But he gave that man something beautiful– not just a moment in the spotlight, or a green Falcon guitar. He recognized his humanity, although scarred by blindness, and gave him a song to sing.
Main Set: Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The Wanderer, Stay, Beautiful Day – Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride, Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Discotheque – Psycho Killer – Life During Wartime, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Encore(s): One, Amazing Grace – Where the Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender, All I Want Is You