Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bono, Brazilians & Blinding Lights

Last night I worked with the One Campaign/DATA people at the U2 show at Madison Square Garden. As usual, it was a fun night meeting all kinds of people from around the world. I'm amazed at how many people fly into NYC specifically to see concerts.

As you'd expect, there were a ton of Irishmen (and Irishladies), but I met at least a dozen people each from Brazil, France and Portugal, and nearly all were in town just to see U2 shows.

It was probably the friendliest and least meatheaded arena show I've ever been to. Nearly everyone I spoke with was familiar with One and the Make Poverty History campaign on some level, and I don't think I saw a single drunk and weaving white-capper the whole night.

As is usually the case with shows like this, the band provided us with several tiers of passes which allowed us to see the show from a decent vantage point. I was thrilled to find that we were directed to watch the show from "inside the heart", the ringed area directly in front of the stage. I ended up seeing the show from about fifteen feet in front of the stage.

Usually, the only time I go to an arena show is if I'm working at one. The sound is usually terrible, the seats are seldom pointed toward the stage, and my neighbors tend to talk through the show, puke nearby, make twenty trips in and out of the row, etc. However, the people in the heart area last night were totally decent, and all seemed to have spent most of the show with looks on their faces that said "I can't believe how amazing this concert is". And it was pretty amazing.

For a bunch of older guys, U2 can really rock hard when they want, and they have so many good songs in their catalog that any setlist of theirs comes off like a greatest hits show.

Here's what they played last night, courtesy of u2fanlife:
City of Blinding Lights
I Will Follow
The Electric Co.
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet the Blue Sky
Miss Sarajevo
Where the Streets Have No Name
Zoo Station
The Fly
With or Without You
All Because of You

The one-two punch of "Follow" and "The Electric Co." was time-warpy, and reminded me of when I saw them on their first tour through NYC at The Palladium a zillion years ago. The crowd around me, yuppies, soccer moms and all, pogoed like they didn't have to work the next day, and I'm sure there are more than a few people who woke up this morning with sore backs and calves pondering if they really needed to buy that $50 t-shirt after the show, but probably deciding they were glad they did.

My favorite song of the night was "Miss Sarajevo", which U2 originally recorded with Luciano Pavoratti. Before the song, Bono had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to the Giant Tenor who is turning 70 today. Then the band played a stirring rendition (I know that's a cliche, but it's totally accurate) of the song, with Bono singing the Pavoratti parts beautifully. Having only heard his "rock" voice for all these years, I had no idea he had that operatic stuff in him.

When I heard how much people were paying for tickets to these shows, I couldn't believe it. But having seen some comparatively priced and painful to sit through Broadway musicals as favors to family members, a U2 show is a bargain. Go if you can...and don't forget to stop at the One table when you are there.

Dig my view:

Productshop NYC was there, and agrees with my speculation that Bono was a little drunk. He's got more photos, too.

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