Wednesday, July 6, 2011

360 degrees of AWESOME

Waaaaaaaaaaay back in December i get a text from my friend Ron: Trying to buy U2 tickets. Do you want one?
My reply: YES!!
His answer:

Oh wait; that's right; he didn't answer.
I never heard another word about it.
I figured that he hadn't been able to get tickets; i didn't ask him about it because of what we refer to as the Vertigo Tour Incident. [he only had one job that day - get us tickets to Vertigo. That's it. One tiny little task. But did he get them? NO. Years later and we -that is I- still refer to his utter lack of getting us tickets] I was disappointed, but told myself that it was better in the long run cause i couldn't really afford a ticket any way.
Time passes.
We celebrated New Year's together.
Billboards for the show appear all over town.
We did Lynn's Super Bowl Party together.
Time passes.
We hung out on multiple occasions.
More time passes.
We are sitting at the Phoenix in Old Ellicott City a few weeks before my birthday talking about -wait for it- music. I'm introducing him to 30 Seconds From Mars (on YouTube, people; not in person) which leads to a discussion of Muse which leads to a discussion of U2 and he says something about going to the show
What? says I.
The show is only 6 weeks away says he. Pause for him to notice my bewildered expression. I did tell you that I got the tickets, right?
Why no; no, you did not tell me that we have tickets. In fact i spent the last 5 months sighing sadly every time i drove to work and had to pass a giant billboard about the show in the morning. Every day. For 5 months.
Then the sheer joy set in, then the jubilant screaming, then the people at other tables are looking at me like i had gone nuts. It was quite the sight.
He'd simply forgotten to tell me that he did indeed secure the tickets. After the Vertigo Tour Incident he was not going to fail again. He was sure that he had told me that he had tickets.
Let's just take a quick moment to talk about Ron.
I love Ron.
We have been friends for 17 years.
He's one of my oldest friend's step-sister's uncle. (really)
He dated one of my best friends for 2 years. (then she dumped me, she dumped him and disappeared)
He dated another one of my friends for another 2 years. (then he dumped her, she dumped me and disappeared)
We can talk about music all day, every day and still not run out of things to say.
He's a music teacher, an amazing drummer and generally a good guy.
But he is also a giant goof ball.
Really. A Goof Ball. I couldn't stay mad about not knowing we had U2 tickets because 1) that's just the way Ron is and 2) we HAD U2 TICKETS.
This tour is called the 360 Tour because they are performing in the round with a ginormous 30 foot tall stage that in the daylight looks quite a bit like a headless dragon to me, though Ron wanted to know that was the deal with the cheese buttons. The main stage was in the center with bridges out to the catwalk and a huge, huge, huge circular video screen. By having the audience around the stage instead of just in front of it, everyone could be closer. Even way up in the fifth level, I wasn't any farther away from them in this stadium then i would have been in an arena.

As night fell, the video screen scrolled all sorts of tidbits of information (like 17 babies have been born to the crew so far during this tour) and showed the current time all over the world. Finally, all of the lights in the stadium went out, the crazy dragon/octopus/spaceship started to light up and the band walked to the stage. Yep, they just walked to it from the locker rooms. No big production, which is different for them and super cool. You could literally feel the excitement building and cresting as they got closer and closer to their instruments.
Then the awesomeness was upon us.
You might recall that i had a hard time describing the Muse show i went to last year. U2 360 is just as impossible to sum up in words. This is the third time i have seen them and it was everything i wanted it to be.
We can talk about the spectacle that was the constantly changing stage
a little red

white spots
crazy blue spots

more blue

freaky texture lights

small red spots

or no lights at all
 or the fact that the bridges to the catwalk MOVED, even when band members were walking on them, sliding right over the heads of the audience or that the giant video screen was made up of tons of smaller screens that descended like a cone of moving images around the stage


or that the spire at the top lit up like a flaming sword
and pulsed
and turned into a giant disco ball

But, unlike PopMart, it wasn't all just spectacle. Though a stadium tour, you really did feel close to the band. There was a real connection. Bono was in a thoughtful mood, talking a bit about recovering from surgery and being grateful that he could be there. There was, of course, political discourse as well, but it felt genuine, not preachy or contrived. Before starting Moment of Surrender, he had everyone hold up their cell phones and take a moment of silence to remember anyone they'd ever lost. It sounds hokey when i type it, but it was truly moving at the time. And i don't think i have ever had chills quite like the ones i felt when 80,000 people sang the first verse of Amazing Grace together.
Plus, there was the music. The band sounded good. They sounded tight. The playlist was fan-dam-tastic. My favorite song was played third -free pizza to anyone who can name it before hitting play-:

They covered quite a range of their catalog (30 years of albums gives one a lot to choose from) and didn't just stick to the hits. In fact, they did an amazing version of a deep cut from Achtung Baby -so deep, Ron didn't recognize it- that is very close to my heart as i heard it for the first time on a mix tape (yes, i'm old) that fTM Frack made me long, long ago (there are 2 snippets cause i didn't want either to be too long):

And on top of all of that, the concert was 10 years -almost to the day- of when Ron and I saw U2 together for the first time on the Elevation Tour. I had an extra ticket and took him to the show though he wasn't a huge fan at the time. I mean, he liked them when he heard them on the radio (yes, i'm old), but didn't really love them or own any of their records. After that concert -which remains one the the very best i have ever seen- he was sold on their greatness.
Flash forward a decade and here we are again

And as if the spectacle, music, mood, and nostalgia weren't enough, when i asked Ron how much I owed him for the ticket he said Never mind that. I just want you to have an awesome night.
Mission Accomplished!
Thanks, Ron.


Anonymous said...

First, your fave U2 Song = Mysterious Ways. On your knees, boy!

Second, Ultraviolet (Light My Way) really is quite a good song.

Thirdly, PopMart was under-rated, what with boss performances of Mofo, The Last Night on Earth and (good soundtrack, crappy movie) Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me.

Fourthly, we're going to see them in Philly next week. I just hope The Fly doesn't feature the creepy effects from the 3d movie.

And most importantly of all: How's Edge's 'stache doing?


BrendaNery said...


Rea said...

I'm glad you had a good time.

Niki said...

Frack dear, we went to PopMart together; i was standing in between you and Dorkman the whole time, remember?
I didn't say i didn't like it, just that it was long on spectacle and short on emotional connection.