More on U2

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Some of you wanted to hear more about the U2 show we saw last week.

First off, I already described the some of the tightened security at the Garden. The thing I didn't mention is that, in the whole contretemps with my cell phone being sniffed by a bomb-detecting dog, Security somehow forgot to subject me to the same handheld metal-detector sweep that everyone else in my party was subjected to. I, as the most suspicious member of the party, really got the least thorough inspection. I'm picturing the scene in Airplane! where the little old lady gets beat up by Security while terrorists with sub-machine guns waltz right through. It's a little scary to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you're going to a show at the Garden any time soon, remember that the heightened security also means that shows actual start right on time. A couple of weeks earlier, Laura and I had gone to see Jane's Addiction with our friends Geoff and Naomi and their friend Matt. We got there at 8:45, which was just in time to see the second act on the bill, Live. We had already missed the first opener. At 11:00, Perry Farrell begged the union guys who dismantle the set for five more minutes so they could do one more song. Shows start and end on time now.

We got to our seats last week at just about three minutes past eight, the posted starting time, and Garbage was already playing when we got there. They were fabulous, by the way. Shirley Manson has cropped her hair quite short, and we all agreed that she was really something. Laura said, "Wow, she may be more fabulous now than Gwen Stefani" (her previous hero). (Ironic that we later discovered No Doubt opened for U2's next New York show.)

Anyway, on to the lads, who took the stage around nine. What can I say? The show was amazing. It was riveting every moment. I had never seen them live before (I was stuck on a mission the year that all my friends in Utah took a trip to Denver to see U2 on the Joshua Tree tour), but from other concert documents I've seen and heard, it seems to me that they're only getting better with age. There weren't many traces of the glam-pop phase left in this show—only touches like the rolling lights on axles above the stage and the banks of lights that rose behind the band on a couple of tunes were left to rub one's face in the prodigious command of stage pyrotechnics these fellows have. The only other pyrotechnics came from the band itself.

I've already described the heart-shaped runway, and I've already told you about Bono cradling the flag in his arms during "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Another thrilling moment came during that same song as Bono praised the men and women of the IRA who were laying down their arms and renouncing terrorism that very day. Then again when Bono pulled a young man out of the audience who had the word "ONE" tattooed in his back in a column in something like fifteen different languages. Then again when Bono pulled a young woman out of the audience holding a sign that said, "Chicks can play guitar too," and responded to her claim to know all the chords by having a roadie bring her a guitar; The Edge got her started on the basic chords to "Knocking on Heaven's Door," and she played and sang onstage with the lads; and what's more, we were all happy for her, not jealous. You should have heard the arena erupt after the first line she sang at the mike she shared with Bono.

What songs did they play? I remember "Beautiful Day," "Elevation," "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," "New Year's Day," "Pride," "Bad," a scorching rendition of the already scorching "Bullet the Blue Sky," "Angel of Harlem," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "One," "Until the End of the World"—in short, a greatest hits package. But the most wrenching songs were "New York" and "Peace on Earth," which the lads played as projectors sent the names of the dead and missing in the WTC attacks scrolling across the audience and up the walls and ceiling of the arena. (I spied one name that I recognized from my survivor list, and which I had subsequently seen on missing posters in the subway station at Times Square: "Lucy Crifasi.")

The band dressed in black, soberly but not somberly. The Edge sported a large Yankees logo on his shirt. Laura hadn't gone into the show expecting much. She was blown away. Our friend Liz had promised a coworker that she would call him from her cell phone if the band played "New York" (I just got a place in New York), and she did, and he heard it. That song was all the more poignant for everything that has happened here since All That You Can't Leave Behind came out.

When you're at a U2 concert, I've discovered—at least, a U2 show by this post-glam band who seem to have re-embraced all that they couldn't leave behind—it's far easier to believe that they love you than that, say, Jesus does. It was a remarkable show.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/37433.html ]

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William Shunn

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on October 29, 2001 5:32 PM.

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