Saturday, June 18, 2011

The concert kicked off at seven o’clock with an hour set of Lenny Kravitz. At first I was rather confused why U2 would even want or think they might need an opening act, after all, they are U2 and U2 needs no support act. While I can’t speak for U2 in regards to their choice of Lenny Kravitz or why they would even feel a need for an opening act, I have my own theory. U2 needs an opening act because the raw energy that U2 brings to the stage needs to be preceded with a build-up or else their rabid fans, like yours truly, would simply explode…I am not particularly all that familiar with Lenny Kravitz but Lenny Kravitz and his band did a fantastic job of setting the table for the rest of the evening. Well done, Lenny, well done, thy faithful servant…

Lenny Kravitz left the stage around eight o’clock and we all waited in anticipation for about an hour while an army of technicians and support staff prepared the stage for U2. At about eight forty five the crowd began to get antsy and started doing the wave. We had to do something to release the energy that was building and building and building. Normally, I’m a pretty reserved person in public settings but even I couldn’t resist standing up and waving my arms three or four times. Let’s just say I got caught up in a wave of collective energy that had filled the stadium.

Nine o’clock liftoff…..At nine o’clock David Bowie’s classic rock song Ground Control to Major Tom came on the loud speakers. The crowd roared in unison and I looked up at the jumbo screen which was supported by “The Claw”, history’s largest stage apparatus. I literally got goose bumps as I watched Larry, Adam, the Edge, and Bono make their way to center stage. The rest of the night was one big giant blur. I use the word blur "literally" because what happened over the next two and a half hours is hard, no impossible,for me to describe in words. What I experienced can only be found on this planet inside the capsule of nuclear weapons or the eye of a level five hurricane.

I suspect one of the reasons I am really struggling at this point to describe what I experienced is that I have no reference points…and….there are no reference points because there is nothing out there on the entertainment landscape to compare with U2. Last year I attended a Bruce Springsteen concert, and while I mean no disrespect, to “the Boss”, or his legion of fans, there is no comparison, and that is an understatement. So, what’s different?…While Bruce and his fan base are, giving them the benefit of doubt, as passionate as U2 and their fans, the difference is, imo, the combination of the presence of Bono and the otherworldly creative nature of the incredible visual effects provided by the support technology. One of the highlights for me last night was watching Gabrielle Giffords husband Mark Kelly address the crowd on the jumbo screen from the space shuttle. He read some of the lyrics of a U2 song and introduced the song It's a Beautiful Day...It was electrifying and I was just overwhelmed by it all…Then there was Bishop Tutu talking about the need for continued social justice in the world…but…The climax of the evening came for me when U2 sang "Where the Street Have No Name", while we all watched a video feed on the jumbo screen of the members of the band running around in the desert of California which was originally filmes back in 1987. At that point I was absolutely memorized and emotionally drained by the combination of 60,000 screaming fans, the energy of U2 and the integration of the best technology in the world. Tonight I saw the future and the potential positive effects of technology. It was "beautiful"....

There is much more I could say about particular songs, the absolutely incredible special effects made possible by “The Claw” and the onstage presence of the Bono and the band, or the cameo surprise stage appearance of U2’s long time manager Paul McGuiness who apparently made his first stage appearance in history. Bono asked Paul to come onstage while we all sang happy 60th Birthday to him. I am now out of words and concede that what I have said here is almost meaningless to anyone except those who have been to a U2 concert because words can never capture or hold the internal combustible energy that comes only from experience…Last night is a night I will never forget….It was a Beautiful Night…Thanks U2, and thanks to all the fans, who provided the energy for one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

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