I can now die a happy woman. That is to say, I have finally seen U2 in concert.
Seeing U2 in concert is something that I have dreamed of for years. In fact, the very first popular radio music that I can remember hearing as a child (that was current) was when U2 released the Joshua Tree album. However, it always seemed like they were on tour when I was living in the most remote of places in the arm pits of civilization that even the philanthropic Bono would not waste time venturing to, i.e. Oklahoma. Either that, or if I did happen to be around a big metropolitan city, I wouldn’t have the money to buy the ticket before the concert would sell out—and it always sold out.
But since moving to the Philadelphia region, I have finally found myself in a place where I have both geographic proximity to some really great venues that some really great bands play at and had the funds to spend on some amazing live performances. Now, it just so happened that U2 was supposed to play in Philadelphia in 2010, but had to postpone the performance with the rest of their North American tour until 2011 due to Bono’s back surgery. This worked out great for me because on July 14, 2011, I was living in the area and had a ticket to enter Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field to see U2’s 360otour.
Eeeeeek! I was ready for a night to remember and I certainly was not disappointed.
I will not divulge how much I paid for my ticket, but I will say it is the most I have ever paid for a single night of entertainment. I toyed with the idea of going all out and paying the obscene price for a ticket that would include a limo ride there and cocktails with the band and about 100 of their other adoring fans, but common sense prevailed and I applied what I was willing to spend toward getting the best seat I could afford. This concert was worth every penny I paid for the ticket, though it could be possible (according to accounts from various friends in different seats) that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house due to the nature of the 360o stage.
The stage was created to look somewhat like a spaceship, which came in handy in the second half of the show when they played “live” satellite video footage from the space station and a special message from U.S. astronaut Mark E. Kelly. More importantly, though, was the fact that the bridges from the inner stage to the outer circle runways rotated around the circle, enabling the Edge and Bono to get off at any point on the circle in front of any part of the audience. In essence, there was no backstage blind spot. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself…
The opening act for this leg of the tour was Interpol, which didn’t seem to concern anyone there except for one woman sitting about eight rows behind me who claimed to be lead singer Paul Banks’ future “Baby Mama.” No one else seemed to care. Not to say that they weren’t good, but they were just small compared to what we all knew was coming; they sounded small and they even looked small. During the stage change between Interpol and U2, David Bowie music reverberated off the stadium walls as people finally came in from the concession stands.
I started noticing quite a bit of activity around the stadium tunnel about 15 feet to my left. Feeling like I was on to something, I left my seat and waited at the railing with my camera trained on the tunnel. Eventually, the lights went down, “Space Oddity” started playing and to my heart’s delight the band came out of the tunnel I was stationed at. Honestly, I could have spit (I didn’t!) and hit each of them. Realizing that I missed the best opportunity to hit any of the band members with strategically thrown panties, I retreated to my seat and settled in for the best concert I have ever seen.
Bono worked the crowd like a champ. He took a special moment to comment that many audience members were now two years older than when they originally bought their tickets and he thanked the crowd profusely for hanging in there until the band could come to Philly. The rotating bridges brought Edge right in front of me for several songs and all of the LED monitors that surrounded the stage delivered an amazingly clear concert experience that was truly larger than life. Bono even resurrected his “Fly” persona during “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” and swung around the stage.
And the sound…wow. For playing in an outdoor sports arena, I can say I was absolutely taken aback by the quality of the sound. I could have been jamming in my car to a cd recorded live and it couldn’t have been any better. The set list was a nice mix of the old and the new and the energy never ceased—even when Bono would go into a political rant, which was expected.
Speaking of the political tirades that most people criticize U2 for, all I can say is this: I admire people who use their super-celebrity status to call attention to causes that benefit humanity and that is exactly what Bono and U2 do. The evening of this concert happened to coincide with Nelson Mandela’s birthday, so the band closed by having everyone join in singing “Happy Birthday.” Hey, I’ve sung that song for pets before, so why not sing it for a freedom fighter? The band even had representatives from Amnesty International come out for a candlelit rendition of “Moment of Surrender.” I thought it was beautiful and if for just three minutes out of a three hour show they got 75,000 people to all think about how good they have it in an arena listening to great music rather than being oppressed in some horrendous place, then I’m all for it.
U2’s 360o tour stop in Philadelphia was everything I hoped it would be and more. The challenge since July 14, 2011 is to stave off disappointment while attending other non-U2 concerts.
Even Better Than The Real Thing
I Will Follow
Until the End of the World
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Beautiful Day – Space Oddity
Pride (In the name of love)
City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo – It’s Only Rock and Roll
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix) – Discotheque – Life During Wartime -Psycho Killer
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Hallelujah – Where the Streets Have No Name
Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender