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New Music Thursday–U2

October 15, 2009

Okay, so I’ve gotta admit. Last week, I failed on the whole blog thing. And this week, the music that came out failed me–nothing much to talk about. (There is a new Sugarland CD out, but I’m kind of afraid to touch it.)

I know that U2 isn’t exactly a new band, although they celebrated a new release earlier this year. In fact, their U2 360 tour coincides with their 30th year in the music industry, so perhaps it’s a stretch to include them in my new music Thursday section.

I’m not sure if U2 is my favorite band–Dave Matthews gives them a run for their money in my book–but they’re definitely the most influential band. Of our generation. And perhaps the one or two before.

My youth minister, Bruce, introduced me to U2 during my senior year of high school. He got me to listen to Joshua Tree, which I immediately fell in love with (classics such as “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “With or Without You” but also underrated hits like “Running to Stand Still” and “Red Hill Town”). I then added War and the Best of the 1980s to my collection and bought All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which came out my senior year, and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which came out junior year of college. U2 came through Dallas in January 2002 (I believe), and Bruce wanted to take several of us to the Elevation tour, but the concert was on a Sunday evening, and being good Church of Christ people, we passed.

Fast forward 8 years. My sweet Katie bought me U2 tickets for my graduation present. (Well, she gave me a slip of paper that said something like “Exchangeable for U2 tickets”–we didn’t know where we would be in September/October, so once we figured that out, we would buy tickets at the nearest stadium. Have I told you recently how amazing my wife is?)

Turns out that stadium was Jerry’s World of Fun–the new Cowboys Stadium. Concert date–October 12.

So Monday, Katie and I spent the afternoon driving to Arlington to see the musical group that has influenced and challenged me more than any other. Of course, our two and a half hour trip was filled with U2 tracks old and new–Katie humored me as I sung or hummed along to just about every song. We got a quick dinner at On the Border, where we beat about 75 others who were also going to see U2, and headed to Jerry’s World of Fun.

We got a quick tour of the new Cowboys Stadium, where we were greeted by about 50 food and beverage vendors; we encountered another 75 or so merchandisers at the Cowboys Pro Shop. Dear goodness, that man has a lot of people working for him. And money.

We also ran into a couple that Katie knew from Midland, which fit perfectly into the “Let’s see how many people we’ll know” game that we play when we go out to eat or to social events. We knew of several Abilenians that were going to the concert, including our friends the Durringtons, and the Becks. Actually, the Becks–Richard, Jana, and their two boys–sat a couple of sections over from us. We waved them down and they took pictures of us from their seats several hundred feet away. I hope that when Katie and I have kids that we can treat them to cultural events such as the Beck boys experienced Monday.

Muse opened the show. I wasn’t too familiar with their work, other than their hit “Starlight”, which is one of my favorites. Matthew Bellamy, the lead singer and guitarist for the band, is an amazing musician; I’m completely mesmerized by people who have fantastic voices and incredible skills as an instrumentalist. It’s quite a rarity in contemporary pop/rock music. Bellamy would sing a chorus in his upper range and then play some ridiculous guitar riff–it was fascinating to watch.

Then, the main event. Larry emerged. Then Adam. Then Edge. Then Bono.

I was almost in tears when the foursome united on stage.

My first impression of live U2 was amazement at the amount of energy Bono has. He ran on the stage and, right before he started singing “Breathe”, jumped backward and kicked his right leg out. I mean, the man’s pushing 50. Most people that age injure themselves pulling off stunts like that–Bono’s in incredible shape. And he’s an incredible performer. For the first couple of songs, such as “Get on Your Boots” and “Magnificent”, he was running all over the inner and outer stage trying to get the crowd fired up. Bono’s such a great storyteller–not just with the lyrics he writes but through his musicality. That definitely showed in the tenderness and gentleness in “Stuck in a Moment” and “No Line on the Horizon”. He also pulled this kid on stage for “City of Blinding Lights”, and they walked around together and essentially acted out the song; Bono’s usage of space to engage with the crowd but also to narrate his songs was unbelievable. Richard said afterward that Bono’s leading of U2 reminded him of a Pentecostal worship leader, sans the speaking in tongues–from his movements to his calling the audience “church” in the middle of his songs.

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My favorite moment of the night came during the song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. He sings the first line–“I have climbed highest mountains/I have run through the hills”, and realizes that 80,000 of our closest friends are singing along with him word for word. So he and Edge drop out and the only thing you is Larry playing snare, Adam playing the bass chord, and a chorus of U2 fanatics (myself included) finishing the verse and first chorus in unison. Chills up and down my spine.

Bono finished the evening with a stirring montage of images of Iran to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and a tribute to the exiled Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. And two encores, including a combination of “Amazing Grace” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”.

The three and a half hour drive home (well, and the three days following) have been filled processing the greatness of this concert. It was mind-blowing to watch the connection between Edge and Adam, the two guitarists. They moved almost in symmetry with each other, playing back to back at several points and on opposite ends of the stage at others. In fact, musically speaking, watching and listening to Edge may have been the second-most enjoyable part of the concert. He (and the other band members) matched Bono’s intensity and excitement a bit into the show and utilized the inner and outer stages to engage with the crowds. However, during the two or three extended solos he had, he would freeze, but his hands would go crazy up and down the guitar. Then when he finished, he’d find the base rhythm and start jumping up and down again. Edge even sang a solo during one of the songs, and Katie leaned over and said, “He sings?!” I thought the same thing myself–he has a gentle, beautiful voice.

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I’m so grateful to my Katie for making this dream of mine come true. For enabling my U2 habit by taking me to this show and buying a huge U2 coffee table book for me through my birthday. Which I started rummaging through Tuesday morning and will talk about soon on this blog. For letting me act like a 6-year old on Christmas morning during the concert when something cool would happen. For singing along with me and 80,000 of our closest friends to the songs she knew. Thank you love.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Drew permalink
    October 16, 2009 2:57 pm

    Right on! I’m glad you got to go! (And a little jealous, of course.)

    And yes, your wife is pretty awesome. Not awesome enough that she bought *me* tickets to the concert – but still pretty awesome. 😉

  2. Jacque permalink
    October 31, 2009 5:05 am

    Love it! So glad you got to go, Jeremiah. My sister and brother in law were there too.

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