October 26, 2005 ~ 09:43pm
I had a blast at the U2 concert. Granted I was totally exhausted, but in retrospect I really don't regret much.
Back in January I was a little disappointed they picked a monday, but I decided that I would make accommodations regardless of work or other committments. So I took some time off, went home, got ready and left for the Palace with my brother, by about 4. Sadly most of southeastern Michigan is under assault by construction and we arrived there by about 5:30. The west entrance was the only entrance for GA (general admission) floor tickets. So we waited in the shorter of the 2 lines formed there. At 6 we filled in, only to find we were accidentally in the u2.com fan club line. A little smooth sailing and we hopped into the right line (selfishly cutting in front of a few hundred) oh well. We got our floor wristbands and went out the to the floor.
The floor was set up with a big ellipse with one end at the stage and the other holding back the GA floor. If your ticket scanned some code, you got to take 1 person into the ellipse with you. No luck here. So since it's GA and first come first "stand", we just stood clumped up to the outer edge of the ellipse for about 1 hour till 7:30 when the cover band started. The seats weren't even 1/3 filled yet.
The coverband "Institute" really sucked. Made up of ex-Bush singer Gavin Rossdale (aka. Mister Gwen Stefani), they really didn't connect much with the crowd. They were a little harsh and the only time the crowd seemed happy was when they sang some Bush songs, which I never liked in the first place. That's when I realized how truly loud the floor was. Credit to my younger brother for suggesting ear plugs. So even though it didn't drown out the boring music, it helped. They wrapped up by about 8:25 or so and the stage was set up for the main act. Keep in mind now that we've been standing for almost 3 hours.
The band finally surfaced at 9 and it was packed to the limit. I finally saw Bono appear out of nowhere on the ellipse platform. They opened to an incredibly lively "City of Blinding Lights" from their latest album ("How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" - long, I know). There was an amazing back drop of stringed lights that ran multiple images across them which made me feel like I was in the video for that song. After hopping through "Vertigo" they introduced themselves and started rolling with their act.
Let me say Bono and the boys are rock solid entertainers. They don't just sing they really put on a show. The music was rocking perfect, but the presence is what truly made the difference. Let me be the first to say that their latest album was nothing compared to 2000's "All That You Can't Leave Behind" or "Achtung Baby" or "The Joshua Tree". But they mixed a lot of new songs into the act and went through a good number of old songs including "Pride" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday". It was great just singing along (almost screaming) and not really caring. But the most energizing parts were when they played their late 80's and 90's music. Definite crowd pleasers.
And what would a U2 concert be without Bono's plea for support for debt relief and aide to 3rd world countries and the common brotherhood of man? He pulled out a bandanna with coexist - a phrase with symbolism to Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Very smooth how it all came to gether. So succintly he merged it with the ONE campaign. Asking people to pull out their cell phones in the darkness and make for a dazzling light display. And to end the show they played "One" (quite possibly the best U2 song ever). And I was ready to go home. It was 10:30 and my body was drained, but no the lights would not come on.
They came back up for an encore with "Walk On" dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in Burma. And with it (on screen) she read off a Universal Declaration of Human Rights - very apolitical and moving. And with that I thought it was over. Then they came up for some more "Joshua Tree" music which somehow reanimated me into jumping and singing again. And after Bono picked some girl out of the crowd (about 10 feet away) and sang "With or Without You" to her, I thought it was over. But those cursed lights never came back on. Then, for one final encore (or maybe I missed one in between), they ended with "Psalm 40". And the people sang into the darkness.
Walking on out of the arena was terrible. My shoes were sticky with spilled beer and those steps were like climbing the highest mountains. After buying our ONE campaign wristbands and being upset that t-shirts were $35 a peice, we finally sat down in the car at 11:30. After about 6 straight hours on our feet, driving home was tough, but we pulled in at about 1am and slept by 2. Wish I took tuesday off instead of just the morning. Oh well.
Looking back, maybe I'll get seats next time. But I guess I wouldn't trade monday night for the world. It was great. It was moving and the experience was exactly what I couldn't live without. Been waiting for over 10 years, and for the guy with the poster: "I've waited 20 years for this day" -- yeah, I know what that felt like. It was a beautiful day.