If you are reading this, you probably know how much I love U2, and what they have meant to me over the course of my life.
Last year I was talking with my friend (and fellow U2 fan) Tom, and he jokingly asked if I wanted to go out to Chicago over 4th of July weekend to see U2, who were on their second leg of the 360 Tour. I thought about it for about five seconds, and then responded, “Uh…YES!” This was my chance to make up for missing them when they came to DC. I had debated and debated over getting tickets. Normally this wouldn’t have even been a question – of course I would go. But there was a lot going on at the time, and I am (very sadly) not a huge fan of their latest album, so it seemed to make good fiscal sense to sit that one out.
Then I made the mistake of reading reviews of the show, which were universally, overwhelmingly, positive, and had been kicking myself in the pants ever since.
So when this opportunity came up, I seized it. Tom got the U2 tickets, I got my plane ticket, and we waited for July 5th.
Then Bono broke his back and the concert was postponed until 2011. I still went out to Chicago, and instead of seeing Bono, I saw my college town and some old friends and ate Quatros Pizza.
While I was disappointed at the time, turns out it was all for the best. Fate and mysterious ways and all that. (See what I did there?)
Without getting into too much detail, I will just say that this has not been a good summer. It’s been stressful. So stressful that I was basically sick for the whole month of June. By the time July came around, what I needed more than anything was a break – and not “stay-cation” style – I needed a break from my normal life and routine. I needed to not be on the East coast. Lucky for me, Bono broke his back last year and I had tickets to see U2 on July 5, 2011 in Chicago.
Except for the speeding ticket for $180 (THANKS, OHIO!) the drive up was great. (Yes, DRIVE. I decided to save money by driving instead of flying. Again, THANKS, OHIO!) Not to get too new-agey, but I really enjoyed being one with myself, my thoughts and my music. I listened to the U2 mixes I made for a friend years ago – and hadn’t heard in ages, as well as a “Fuck You” mix I made…well, in honor of my summer thus far. While the “Fuck You” mix proved satisfying, it was all the U2 that helped calm me down and start healing. Behold the power of music!
(For anyone interested, the “Fuck You” playlist includes songs such as “Philosophy” by Ben Folds Five, “Two Points for Honesty” by Guster, Cake’s awesome “I Will Survive” cover, “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, “And Your Bird Can Sing” by The Beatles, “What You Own” from Rent, Rufus Wainwright’s amazing “Dinner at Eight”, “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues” from Follies, Adele’s “Turning Tables” and the inspiration for it all, “What is this Feeling” from Wicked, among others.)
I arrived Saturday night and did nothing but a lot of serious chilling for the next few days. Even though the main purpose of the trip was to see U2, it was also great to spend time with my buds Tom and Victoria. We don’t get to see each other very often, and I am always glad when we can get together.
Sunday night Tom and I introduced Victoria to Singing in the Rain – WHICH SHE HAD NEVER SEEN. Honestly I am not sure how we lived in the same city for a year and a half and I never made Victoria watch my favorite movie of all time. The only possible explanation is that I didn’t yet own it on DVD. But this was also perfect, because it is my go-to comfort movie, and I had been wanting to watch for a while. She was skeptical at first, and even brought a book into the room even though Tom and I insisted she wouldn’t need it. She started to warm up during Fit as a Fiddle (“That is amazing!”) and was pretty much sold by All I Do is Dream of You. “It’s too bad I didn’t watch this as a kid, because my Barbies would have had a lot of fun with this number,” she said. Pause…”And I have to admit, I am thoroughly enjoying this.” Well, I mean, how can you NOT?
The whole movie was like that, whether it was discovering the awesomeness that is Lina Lamont or being mega-impressed with Donald O’Connor. My favorite comment was probably in the middle of Moses Supposes: “Oh my god, they are assaulting that guy!”
Tuesday, both Tom and Victoria had to work, so I was on my own until the evening. I took advantage of this by sleeping in and playing with my new iPhone until the early afternoon, and then headed downtown in search of the first Potbelly I ever ate at, Macy’s for Frango and Borders. Fortunately, all of these places are on State St. within a block of each other.
As for the concert: Wow. I was all set after they played an acoustic version of “Stay”, one of my three favorite U2 songs. “Ok, I can go home now,” I said to Tom. “I’m good.”
This is from several years ago, but to give you an idea:
Then it got even better a few songs later. “We’d like to dedicate this song to Gabby Giffords,” Bono said. He asked the audience to imagine her man looking down on earth on a night like tonight. What would he be thinking? What would he see? And THEN, well, this happened:
You can’t see it from the screen, but Mark Kelly holds up a string of words, ending with “Beau” “tiful”. That’s when the crowd starts screaming. I have seen U2 six times over the course of 14 years. I have all of their concerts on VHS or DVD. I own all their albums. I watched their 3D concert twice. This was hands down the coolest thing I’ve ever seen them do. I got chills, and it was the first of a few times that night I teared up.
Here is a clearer version of the opening, from the Seattle concert:
Soon after that they busted out the second of my three favorite U2 songs – “Miss Sarajevo.” And then they busted out Tom’s favorite – “Zooropa.” Not to mention they started the show with four songs from Achtung Baby, which is my favorite U2 album. It felt like they were doing the show based on my mixes. They only did a few songs from the latest album – which surprised me, but was fine.
They ended with my third favorite – “Walk On” with the stage in candlelight.
As for the encore — we learned how Bono broke his back when he was lowered onto the stage riding a giant microphone, which he then proceeded to swing on during “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me”. It was what we have come to expect of U2 encores – Bono doing something crazy – but that didn’t take away from the spectacle and enjoyment.
Oh, and did I mention the fab four entered to “Space Oddity” and left to “Rocket Man”? I would love to enter a room to “Space Oddity.” How badass is that?
Here is the complete set list:
1 Even Better Than the Real Thing
2 The Fly
3 Mysterious Ways/Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World (snippet)
4 Until the End of the World
5 Out of Control
6 Get on Your Boots
7 I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
8 Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
9 Beautiful Day/Space Oddity
11 Pride (In The Name of Love)
12 Miss Sarajevo
14 City of Blinding Lights
16 I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight/Discothèque
17 Sunday Bloody Sunday
19 Walk On
21 Where the Streets Have No Name
23 With or Without You
24 Moment of Surrender
25 One Tree Hill
“One Tree Hill” was a surprise – Bono was reminiscing about being here years ago playing that song, and then said, “But that’s not what we are going to play right now.” When the crowd protested (not knowing what song he was talking about), he said, “Ok, let me check with the professor and see what we can do,” then went over to Edge. They played “Moment of Surrender,” and then Bono said they would play the aforementioned song as long as no one put it on the Internet if they screwed up badly.
Fortunately, they didn’t.