Saturday, April 30, 2011

U2 - October 28, 2001

Amazing. That is the only word that enters my gray matter every time I think back on attending a U2 concert. No matter when I’ve seen the band live, their performance has always been simply amazing. During the Elevation Tour, I was privileged enough to see U2 twice--- once In June and once in October. Unfortunately, both times I attended the concert with my ex-girlfriend who was more into put downs than our relationship. However, even her negative connotations couldn’t dissuade me from having one of the best times of my concert life. A U2 concert is an experience that washes away all other negative emotions.

Having thoroughly enjoyed a concert on the first leg of the Elevation tour, prior to 9/11, I noticed that the current leg of the tour was decidedly different. Not only was the set list changed around, but more attention was paid to the New York area after the tragic disaster that befell the nation a few weeks earlier. U2 was cognizant of what happened and paid touching tribute at the end of the night.

The start of the night, however, kicked off with as much energy as the June show had. Launching with the powerful “Elevation,” U2 seized the New Jersey crowd and never let go. “Beautiful Day,” “Until The End Of The World,” and “New Year’s Day” all followed “Elevation”. That opening four pack of songs was rife with energy. The Edge was at his intense best and Bono’s voice was operatic.

I, of course, sang along to every word of every song. This only provoked queer looks and quick verbal jabs from my girlfriend, but I didn’t care. I just laughed at her and kept singing. There was no way my evening would be tanked because of someone else’s insecurities. When “I Will Follow” was performed next and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” came after that, I went crazy. Singing as loud as my voice would allow along with the rest of the crowd (minus my ex), my heart ripped wild in my chest. Blood rushed through every inch of my body and the euphoria that I felt while singing those two songs is near impossible to duplicate.

One of the best things about attending a U2 concert is how the band mixes up the setlist. You could attend three U2 concerts in a row and not see the same performance at any of them. U2 is always willing to pull out songs that may not have been performed in a while. They are a band that constantly looks to shake up the setlist and make the fans happy. That chilled October night was no exception. After a stunning live rendition of “Stuck In A Moment,” U2 played “Kite” for the first time ever. This was followed by an astonishing “Angel Of Harlem.” It felt as if the band were playing my dream set.

The biggest treat of the night for me was “All I Want Is You.” This has always been one of my favorite U2 songs. This song never got enough attention and was always much more underrated than it should have been. The last track on Rattle And Hum, “All I Want Is You” is the epitome of a ballad. Bono’s voice is superb and the slow, steady rhythm of the song creates a blissful listening experience.

As the band performed “All I Want Is You,” I actually wrapped my arms around my ex and sang softly into her ear. That lasted all of 30 seconds before she pushed me away claiming that she felt constricted. We had some relationship, huh?

U2 finished their main set in style. “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and the fan favorite, “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” closed it out. During “I Still Haven’t Found…” I sang as loud as I could right to Janice. Whether she knew why or not didn’t matter to me. It was very passive aggressive on my part, but it felt great.

The encore was a special one with “New York” being performed for one of the rare times on that tour. Bono dedicated it to the crowd and talked about the devastation that had recently fallen on New York City as well as other parts of the world. After one of the best performances of “One” that I’ve ever witnessed, U2 closed the night with “Walk On.”

As U2 performed “Walk On,” a list of all the names of everyone who died in the World Trade Center on September 11th were projected on the ceiling. It was a chilling moment that astonished the crowd. Listening to “Walk On” played at maximum volume while reading the names of those who perished in a horrific attack on America was a sobering experience. It reminded me of how small we all are and how precious life is. Once again, U2 gave a phenomenal performance that reinforced why they are one of the greatest rock bands in the world.

Needless to say, Janice and I split up a few days after the concert. That made me 3-for-3 with girlfriends and U2. We would get back together again, but I think that night was the real beginning of the end. By 2002 we were split up permanently and by 2003 I stopped talking to her completely. The last time I saw her was the day before I met my current wife. Life’s like that sometimes.

Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year’s Day
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck In A Moment
Angel Of Harlem
All I Want Is You
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Bullet The Blue Sky
What’s Going On
New York
Walk On

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