The roar that lies on the other side of silence

soliderfieldcrowdThe first time I saw U2 was in June of 2001. They had just released All That You Can’t Leave Behind and it seemed like a good first concert. I somehow managed to miss going to any when I was younger, for some reason when everyone my age was going to HFStival I was standing in line for midnight movie showings. The main thing I remember about the concert is that while I knew the standards, the classics, there were clearly some I had never heard. There were the songs everyone wanted to hear (40, Bad, Unforgettable Fire) the songs which people seemed to lose themselves in, the songs that brought excited murmurs, gasps, and upraised arms.

And if the mountain should crumble,
Or disappear into the sea.
Not a tear, no not I stay in this time.
Stay tonight in a light.
Ever after, this love in time.
And if you save it all, save you love.
Dont push me too far tonight.

Then 9/11 happened.

IMG_1916I found myself nearly a month after that day driving up to Baltimore for my second U2 concert. We were late getting to the arena and found out that Garbage canceled because Shirley Manson had gotten sick. It didn’t matter, while it was the same music, the same band–everything felt different.

Not to seem over-dramatic, but only four weeks after the attack the mood in the country remained fervently patriotic, and we were all hurting—and to some extent still uncertain of what would come next; and while U2 is an Irish band they always seemed to have their own special connection to these United States. I’m not sure if it was just the music, or something Bono said, but I think that this is when I realized whenever Bono, the Edge, Adam and Larry came to town I would be there.

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

IMG_18952005, the band releases How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, a record which had more misses than hits for me. High up in the MCI Center, I stared at an enormous sign urging everyone to Coexist, grinning from ear to ear. It didn’t matter that people around me seemed underwhelmed, it didn’t matter to me that I was one of a few people standing up in my section. Things were good.

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much


Fast-forward to 2009. I flew to Chicago and found myself high up in Soldier Field staring at an enormous claw (which I later learned is actually supposed to be a spaceship). Why Chicago? I wanted to do something different and decided to go for the first show of the North American tour (don’t worry I am seeing them again at FedEx field in two weeks). So after a six mile run along the lake, a lot of good food (I love Rick Bayliss, but more on that in the next post) we took a cab to my first ever football stadium (big, enormous, cavernous). They started the concert with a new tune, Breathe–which is where the title of the post comes from–and ended with a new tune, Moment of Surrender. In between we got a little Elvis Costello, Beatles, and the ever classic Stand By Me.

Then there was the moment when the amidst the band’s silence thousands of people broke out into song:


I have climbed the highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls

Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

I think the best part, however, was standing next to a little kid who decided that he wanted to be The Edge. Wailing on his air guitar and jumping up and down, up and down, with his oh-so-tall father (he must have been 7 feet tall at least) it was infectious. All the way through City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Crazy and Sunday, Bloody, Sunday he played and mimicked the passion and love for the music that was floating through the stadium. We were wowed by the lights and the large screens which twirled around to provide close ups of the band, extended to provide their own light show, and watched as bridges moved over the floor crowd’s head to allow for closer access to the rest of the stadium. While I suppose I can excuse certain lyrics about ATM Machines, it was, in the end, a very, very good show.

magicToo late
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other

Carry each other

For more pictures visit my Picasa album. For the set list and a review go here. Click here to see my video of Stuck in a Moment.

Chicago & U2

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