Saturday, September 26, 2009

U2 360

I think many of you know how I feel about the band U2. I was a teenager in the 80's when they hit the scene with a vengeance. MTV was new and I recall watching a video from some Irish band playing at RedRocks. Steam coming out of the lead singer's mouth, passion gushing from his heart as he belted out "SUNDAY, BLOODY, SUNDAY!" I had no idea of the political nature of the song and I didn't care...these guys were just cool and I was hooked.

Fast forward to a couple of Sundays ago when U2 kicked off the U.S. leg of their 360 tour at Soldier Field in Chicago. Not sure why but Stacey and I had never been to a U2 concert and a friend of ours said that he couldn't use his tickets. We went and I crossed another item off of my bucket list.

So we show up at the concert and I was struck by the diversity of ages in the crowd. The appeal of this band is definitely not waning and if anything, picking up steam. Usually churning out 2 or three hits per album, they stay very current by putting on a very tech savvy show with Bono's ability to personally connect with each person in the crowd.

The show was complete eye candy. The mega screen a unique novelty and they used it to it's full effect. The first couple of songs looked like we were watching an edited music video. It felt like they had 100 cameras stationed everywhere with each cut to a different camera completely synced to the beat of the music. Impressive to say the least. At one point the screen starts to stretch (don't ask me how) all the way to the ground. So you are then looking at a 50+ foot screen in the round.

Bono was as you would expect. Passionate, energetic, tender, funny, self-effacing... At one point he is running around the outer ring of the circular stage with shouts of "run Bono run!" coming from the crowd. The next moment he is singing a song while lying on his back. And there is a bridge that hangs over the head of the elite ticketholders that connects the inner stage with the outer circle. Bono leans over the side of the bridge and serenades the crowds below.

What I like most about the band though is their spiritual overtones in many of their songs mixed with a powerful compulsion to do justice. At one point during the show, the crowd of 68,000 was singing "Amazing Grace". There was a funny, spirited and moving address by Desmund Tutu and a song written for Myanmar’s jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, "Walk On". During this song many in the crowd and volunteers on stage wore masked of her face so no one would forget that she was the elected leader of Myanmar in, but currently in her 14th year under house arrest.

It is this social sensibility that has kept me a fan after all of these years. Creative, provocative, spiritual, socially aware with some pretty good rock music. U2 rocks.