I've been without a U2 concert for about four weeks now. Am I sad that none of the boxes on my calendar are filled with the words "U2 in (insert tour city here)"? Of course. But this column isn't meant to be depressing. I wanted to write about the things that U2 have given to me and to their fans. Things like the thrills of a live show, melodies that speak volumes, inspiration that knows no limits, and a sense of spirituality that fills the soul.
If you're like me, going to a concert is a major photo opportunity and 360 was no exception. I filled up two memory cards worth of photos this summer and as I went through them every night after each show, a smile spread across my face. Epic performance moments and precious shots of the band waving to the adoring crowd before leaving the stage live forever on my camera as a summer well spent.
I went to 10 360 shows this summer. With most of them, I went alone or with friends. However, I went to one of the gigs with a really special someone. I took my dad to see U2 at the July 5th show at Chicago's Soldier Field. Despite seeing many rock bands in concert, he had never seen U2! There was no greater feeling for me than being next to him as we sang "Vertigo" and "One," or him seeing the sheer delight on my face upon hearing one of my favorite U2 songs live for the first time ("Out of Control") The show has a place in my heart now as one of my favorite shows and I anticipate my dad asking me when tickets go on sale for U2's next tour! That's the beauty of U2 -- introducing new fans, both young and old, to music that can reach so far to so many. I have my dad's vinyl of The Unforgettable Fire framed in my room. He has No Line On The Horizon on his iPod. Willie Williams noted this "ever growing demographic of U2" in an entry of his tour diary. It's a trend I never want to see go out of style: new fans showing up to U2 concerts no matter what age. You are never too old or too young to know the words to "Where The Streets Have No Name"!
Staying on the subject of favorites, Achtung Baby is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. While a lot of fans call this masterpiece their favorite U2 record, I recently immersed myself in my favorite album. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb not only made me the U2 fan I am today, but it was also the first U2 record that I bought on the day it was released (up until that point, I had been living on just their two greatest hits volumes). It still sounds as brilliant as it did when I first played it in 2004. I can sing along to every track, but there is one part on the record that leaves me speechless every time.
In "Miracle Drug," before Bono sings "Beneath the noise / Below the din," Edge's ridiculously perfect guitar solo makes me numb with joy. I forget to sing the rest of the song because it's so melodic and heart melting. It lifts the entire tune and makes me adore HTDAAB even more. Edge is pretty cool in other ways, too. Check out the list written by @U2 staffer Marylinn Maione that counts down 50 things to love about the now 50-year-old guitar maestro.
One of my favorite celebrities is Adam Richman. I'm a huge fan of his Travel Channel show, Man v. Food, and I also love that he's a fan of U2! He was a guest DJ on KCRW a few months ago and his playlist included "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from Under A Blood Red Sky. After purchasing a Stratocaster and a couple of U2 songbooks, a friend introduced Richman to the album. After hearing the powerful tune, Richman was blown away. Besides learning to play the song's terrific opening guitar riff, U2 also inspired Richman to pursue a focus of Irish culture and he went to study in Ireland after college. He said, "I really think that that impetus of loving Ireland and wanting an understanding of it beyond shamrocks and shillelaghs really began with this song and with Bono's impassioned rendition of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.'"
Richman gets it. He knows this is what U2 is about. To give someone the chance to dream out loud and to not let any beautiful days get away. To provide so much more than amazing music. This is why I went to see them in Spain last fall. I wasn't going to let my chance slip away and I went to Europe by myself to hear the songs that encourage me in my every day life. It's a concert I will never forget. Check out the video of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from that legendary Red Rocks concert. Because who doesn't want to see Bono's mullet and a babyface Larry?
Besides being an inspiration, U2 also give reason to believe. This is according to Marilyn Lynch of The State Journal-Register in Illinois. She wrote an article about the experience of going to a U2 concert. Lynch touched on what to consider when you're in line for general admission: "Toward mid-afternoon you have to regulate your liquid intake and output -- remember, you'll soon be inside the stadium and unable to leave your post from about 4 to 10 p.m." That was definitely me at some of the shows! But after waiting forever in line and being pushed against a barrier all evening, the magic finally unfolds. U2 arrive on stage and everything makes sense. Lynch equated it to "ecstasy that charismatic church members feel, the shared passion and uplift." Being surrounded by sweaty U2 fans and singing along to songs that had meaning to all of us was one of my favorite parts about being in GA.
The point that got me the most was when she said that during the show, she was "free of cynicism and anger . . . and criticism and negativity" because she believed in the sheer positivity radiating off the stage into the crowd. Every time I walked into a stadium to see U2, I left any problems I had at the door. I wouldn't have anything ruin concert night for me. The only thing I clung to was my faith as a U2 fan to pray that I would have the time of my life. And I did. I can't wait for services to start again.
(c) @U2, 2011.