Saturday, April 18, 2009

Concert Review: U2 - August 13, 1992


“Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.” HL Mencken.

Ah, young love. When I was offered the chance to buy tickets for U2 through a connection my mother had, I jumped at it. I immediately thought of my girlfriend, who wasn’t really my girlfriend, but I wanted her to be my girlfriend, Cyndi. We had only been dating a couple of months (perhaps less) and I felt this would be a great way to impress her. I also asked two other female friends if they were interested in attending, since I had access to 4 tickets, and they were. This was U2, of course they were interested!

Now, you’ll have to forgive me for hazy memories, but this concert event was 17 years ago, so the details of exactly what happened may be a little fuzzy, but the essence is there. I even consulted my journal from back in the day to help jog my memory cells.

On the night of the concert, Jen, Heidi, Cyndi, and I headed out to Giants Stadium to see U2, with Primus, and Hiphoprisy. I was still too young to be into the whole getting drunk in the parking lot thing, but we did our own version of tailgating, complete with people watching and walking around to see who was blasting what song out of their car stereos or boom-boxes.

U2 was in the midst of their Zoo TV World Tour in support of one of their best albums, Achtung Baby. They had been playing stadiums around the world and were making their 2-night stop in the New York metro area, where the stadium just happened to reside in Jersey. We were attending the second night of their stand.

Opening act Hiphoprisy was a band I had never heard of, but I knew a little about Primus, primarily Jerry Was a Race Car Driver. Cyndi was a huge Primus fan, so she was excited to see them before U2.

Our seats were incredible, as my connection (technically my mother’s connection) hooked us up, lower section halfway from the stage. They were great seats, and they only cost $30 each – no fees. I can’t fathom that today, as U2s cheapest seats are now $30.

I sat on the end of our ticket block with Cyndi next to me, Heidi next to her, and Jen on the other end. It was nice to be at the show with close friends and had I been a little more observant, (hey, I was young then) I would have realized that I had gone to a rock concert with three beautiful women. I must have looked like a stud. Of course, I was so wrapped in my feelings of young lust (mistaken for love) that all I could think about was Cyndi, hence, the seating arrangement.

Hiphoprisy came on first and I remember nothing about them except that they were a rap group with two guys up front who waved their hands in the air a lot. I also remembered that they played to maybe 1,000 people and the security guards. The stadium was empty for this first act.

When Primus took the stage approximately 30 minutes later, the stadium was at least half full and filling. As mentioned, I knew very little about Primus, having never gotten into that funk & groove style of music. The played a nice set, sounded great, and Cyndi was excited (points for me, I hoped). When they performed Jerry… I smiled, as it was the one song I knew from them. After their set, I thought I would have to check out some of their discs, but I never did.
After Primus, the sun started to set, the stadium filled, and the rumblings began. U2 was going to take the stage at any moment. I had never seen them before and I was oh, so excited. As a preteen, The Joshua Tree was part of my “soundtrack for a dramatic youth.” There was a lot of pain on the second side of that cassette, and it ran its course over several summer afternoons/evenings during middle school. I couldn’t wait to see them perform some of these.

The sun slowly faded into the background, the house speakers rumbled a little bit louder, and with a deafening roar from the crowd who recognized what was happening, the stadium lights went dark and U2 shot onto the stage.

They opened with a stellar version of Zoo Station that had the crowd on their feet immediately. That’s where they would stay for the rest of the night, as seeing U2 live leaves no time for sitting. They perform like the trained professionals they are and they give their all.

The concert began with 6 songs from Achtung Baby before launching into the classic New Years Day. That was all right with me, as I loved Achtung Baby and had played it over and over for months. When the band kicked into One, I tried to wrap my arms around Cyndi and do the cool, romantic, slow lovers sway. She did her best to escape my embrace, citing that she felt constricted. I took her at her word, but I knew there was more to it than that.

During the show, I noticed that Cindy seemed distant. At the slow songs, I would try to put my arms around her and she seemed to shy away. Something was up, only I wasn’t sure what. Cyndi and I had an interesting, albeit rocky, relationship from the start. She was just getting over a boyfriend when I met her, and I was na├»ve enough not to realize that I was the rebound guy, and stupid (or young) enough to believe that we had a great thing going and we were going to be together for a long time.

I was also desperate for any sort of stability in my life at that time (especially my romantic life). The girl of my dreams and I had split up a year before that and I had been drifting in and out of relationships since then, wandering without an anchor, searching for true love in every girl I saw. Not a good combination; a jilted lover coming off a bad relationship and a young romantic looking to find a replacement for a lost relationship.

U2’s big hits sounded even better in the stadium. Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Where The Streets Have No Name were all note perfect and the audience response to each one was an appreciative, collective roar that matched any football game ever played there. Pride, the main set closer, got the biggest response of the night and Bono sang it like a mad man possessed. You were going to listen to his message and he was going to deliver the goods.

In the encore, With Or Without You came on, and since I couldn’t put my arms around Cyndi, I thrust my hands in the air and sang at the top of my lungs, partly to her, partly to myself, mostly as I was lost in the moment. “And you give yourself away…with or without you…Oh Ho! I can’t live… with or without you!”

The final song of the night was Love Is Blindness the clunker that kept Achtung from being a perfect disc. That was a disappointing way to go out, but the rest of the concert was so amazing, that I was able to forgive U2.

The ride home was spent mostly in silence, as Cyndi wasn’t talking to me, and Heidi and Jen were tired from dancing all night long. I dropped everyone off at their cars where we had gathered before the show and said goodbye. I thought that Cyndi would come home with me, but she was “too tired” and decided that she wanted to get some sleep.

Three days later, she broke up with me. I knew something was up. She cited that she wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship (which was probably true) and that she didn’t want to hurt me by making me think we could be a long-term item (probably also true). Regardless of her honesty, it made me feel like crap. I wondered if she had only stayed together with me so she could see U2. Ironically, this would not be the last time that a girlfriend broke up with me after a U2 concert.

Cyndi and I would have an on again, off again relationship for the next couple of months until she started dating a friend of mine (who, after that move, became a non-friend) and then we would drift apart as young lusters often do.

For my first experience with U2, this was a doozy, and whenever I would listen to One, I would feel the pain all over again. When I hear the song now, a little smile creeps at the corner of my lips. It reminds me of my first U2 concert and a special relationship that I endured.

SetlistZoo Station
The Fly
Even Better Than The Real Thing
Mysterious Ways
One
Until The End Of The World
New Years Day
Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
Angel of Harlem
When Love Comes To Town
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
All I Want Is You
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Where The Streets Have No Name
Pride (In The Name of Love)
EncoreDesire
With Or Without You
Love Is Blindness

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