U2 has never been very high up on my current concert dream-wish list, dislike the word bucket list- reminds me of barfing. I thought about seeing them last year at the Rose Bowl but I avoid stadium concerts if at all possible. ColdPlay was the Rose Bowl exception and it was very good. I got in on the presale for Ticketmaster verifieds and I got the code, but did not get the tickets when they went on sale for the two May Los Angeles Forum dates. No matter, I told my partner in concert crime Sandi, we are going to go if we want to. I was ambivalent about not getting the tickets. I don’t consider myself a U2 fan. I like all the hits and that to me is really not high on fandom status. I respect the man and all he’s done, but honestly, after Tracker Dave took over as Bono with the Title Tracker shows, he’s now become Bono to me. The Title Trackers is a group that writes songs for albums that have no title tracks and then performs them in the artist’s character. In the hands of lesser musical genius this would be a mess, but it is handled with such dynamic dignity by the three Trackers: Andy, Dave and Russell whose brainchild this is. They are truly the best songs never written. I digress. Go see a Tracker show and you’ll know what I mean.
A week ago I began the search in earnest for U2 Tickets at the Forum on Tuesday. I just had to see this show. There wasn’t any ambivalence left this week. The feeling that we MUST see this show got stronger and stronger, to the point where I even settled for upper level seats. I just don’t do bad seats at a concert. I am too old to settle for less. These, however, dropped into our collective laps. I was on the text with a man who was selling his seats, three rows up and one section over for $250. He paid $325 and Ticketmaster would not let him re-sell them for less so he went to my favorite ticket place, Craigslist. Let’s hope the morality cops don’t shut down the ticket scalping portion of this website. While I was on text with him negotiating, I was also on Ticketmaster and found two aisle seats, one section over and 4 rows down from him for considerably less than his tickets. He was not happy when I told him it was a “no” and why.
So we went last night, Sandi and I, Ubered by our offspring. Her daughter dropped her off and my son dropped me a few blocks away. The walk was well worth the no parking fees and no parking lot gridlock at the end. The first thing we see upon entering the arena is this humongous two sided screen that ran the entire length down the middle with a huge stage at one end and a smaller one at the other and a long walkway in between just below the screen. What on earth could that be, we wondered? Well it provided the most amazing visual effects ever to be seen on a stage, at least by me. They played in the screen while on the walkway. It was astounding. When he turned it into the street where he lived and had it move as if you were looking at it out of the window of a car was just breathtaking. He walked along, as it moved and sometimes stayed still and in between the houses were relics of his past. Homage to David Bowie for one thing and so much more. It was just indescribable gorgeous.
I expected Bono preachiness, as is the stuff of legends, but what we got instead was Bono teachiness and the baring of his familial heart. He did a mean intro of Sympathy for the Devil , intertwining words of current American events like Charlottesville coming from a horrific Devil’s mask special effect on him as he spoke on this gigantic screen. Politically potent was when he showed footage of the KKK racists and white supremacists demonstrations today and then followed them with the civil rights marches of yesteryear. A powerful reminder of the backslide we see today in those areas. And when he was done, U2 raised the American Flag behind the main stage to cover the entire side of the arena. It was just perfect.
The most poignant part of the entire evening was the homage that Bono played not only to the women in his life, but also to the women of the world. He thanked his wife for being his other half. He thanked his daughters for what sounded like keeping him on his toes. They then displayed a lone woman in a black combat helmet and a sleeveless black dress, so pretty with the hash tag or number sign to me, with the word WomenOfTheWorldTakeOver and PovertyIsSexist I don’t know that I quite believe that in its entirety. I think we need people not genders taking over who are intelligent and honest and have integrity and that just plain care about the world we live in enough to make a difference and let nothing stand in their way to do so. But the most special of all tributes he paid this evening to the women in his life was to his mother. What a beautiful and loving and painful tribute it was beginning with the song Iris- her name- whilst they showed her wedding clip and then an old home movie of her running in the sand. It ended with the house and a light on in only one window and a light bulb that swung towards this window and turned into a noose right before it. Sandi and I, too busy enjoying the show to bother with actual facts, came to the conclusion that his mother committed suicide. Glad to say this morning, Sandi googled it clear in that his mother died when he was 14 years old of a brain aneurism. Not a whole lot better but still. To have him open that pain up right on stage for all of us to share with him was just so moving. Interesting the artistic greatness that ensues from the depths of despair of losing a mother so young as we have seen with other artists like John Lennon.
Musically it was perfect for me. As I wasn’t a huge fan, I had no great set list desire or expectations. I started listening a few days before the concert to the new album “Songs of Experience.” I love, love, love the album. It’s got this feel of going back to 60s and 70s groove music at times mixed in with such beautifully written love songs. So getting to hear most of this live now was just great for me. Yes, I loved Bloody Sunday and One and In the Name of Love of course. Who doesn’t? For me, though, it was great to see these new songs played sometimes the same as the album, sometimes different. Moving from the large stage to the intimate small one at the other end of the huge runway for various songs was spectacular and so well done. The visual effects on that screen during every song were spellbinding. The one thing I loved the most was no monitors anywhere. When it was just them and no big screen special effects, then that is what you looked it and nothing else and it was so much better than the distraction of all those screens.
Bruce, the very top of my concert list, takes you to church when you see him perform. You are in a local parish church in a little Jersey town or a Baptist church in the Deep South. You come in jeans or a summer dress and you collectively throw your hands in the air and shout and shout as the Spirit of the Night grabs hold of your heart and soul and takes them on a ride you’ll never experience again. Bono takes you to a cathedral like Notre Dame in Paris or 5th Avenue’s St Patrick’s, where you come in your best dressed and it is your mind and your senses that are captured and set to wander and wonder at the majesty of the edifice with its stained glass and sculptures and all that amazing architecture. That’s the ride U2 takes you on, musical magnificence. There was so much more but sensory overload makes it difficult for me to describe it in any great detail that would do it justice. It was an experience in song we will never forget.