The biggest band in the world puts on an incredible show.
Last night I got to check another item off the list of things I want to do before I die - see U2 live in concert. I've listened to their music for hours on end, I've watched DVD's of their concerts more times than I can count. But until last night, I'd never had the chance to actually see the men who wrote the most influential songs in my life, and sing them along with them. It was a surreal experience to say the least, and one that will be completely unforgettable.
At the beginning of the show Bono made the comment that although the calendar said it was Wednesday, it felt like Saturday night... and Sunday morning. And that's just the thing about U2 - they're the only band on the planet who can make it seem like both are happening at the same time. Cheering in the Hartford Civic Center that night with 20,000 people was the wildest parties I've ever been to, yet at the same time it touched me as much as any church service ever has.
From the beginning notes of City of Blinding Lights, to yelling "Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce!", to howling out the high notes in Elevation the concert just steamrolled along with one good song after another. They were the familiar anthems we had grown to love, only they were enhanced by the lights, the crowd, and the higher place that Bono takes them to in a live performance. It was a collection of U2's best, at their best. And the celebration continued one song after the other until it was time to get down to business.
Having seen footage of several U2 shows, I knew what to expect. The early fun, pop songs to get everyone in the flow of the concert, followed by the passionate songs for a cause to whip the crowd into a frenzy, and followed up by a heart-wrenching inspirational piece to cap off the first portion of the show. Well, the pop-songs were finished, and the stage turned a deep blood red as the opening chords to "Love and Peace or Else" sounded throughout the arena. Bono took out the "CoeXisT" blindfold shown above incorporating the Muslim crescent moon, the Star of David, and the Cross to promote world peace. As "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" played in the background, he implored Jew, Gentile, and Muslim, all sons of Abraham, to live together in a spirit of brotherhood. It was a moving gesture, and one that characterized what U2 is all about. Instead of throwing out blame, and bashing the government like most celebrities, Bono simply asked us all to love one another. It wasn't about pointing fingers. I was about making a change.
After they had gotten the crowd completely fired up, U2 let loose with an inspirational rendition of "Pride", and as they ended the song with the croud chanting the "Oh-oh-oh-oh" part over and over, The Edge hit the opening notes to "Where the Streets Have No Name" and the place just exploded. There's just nothing like hearing your favorite song of all time, played right before your eyes for the first time. It was absolutely incredible.
The concert went on, featuring other popular songs like "With or Without You" in the encore. But it was the second encore that really got to me. This time it was pure "Sunday Morning" going on. The second to last song of the night was "Yahweh", played slowly with just an acoustic guitar. It's a touching song to begin with, but to be there as Bono sang it live just made the song take on an even deeper meaning. And finally, the band wrapped it up with "40".
It's not one of their more popular songs by any means. In fact, most of the people in the arena probably didn't know that it's words were taken right out of the Bible. But Bono could not have picked a closing number more meaningful to me. The words of "How long to sing this song?" are woven throughout U2's music. And as I had gone through incredible struggles throughout the years, those words had become one of my anthems. Whether it was something trivial like the Timberwolves, or something life-changing like family issues, there were so many times when, like Bono, all I could do was cry out to God, "How long to sing this song?"
To be honest, I haven't had to ask that question in a while now. Part of it is due of better circumstances, part of it is due to more maturity on my part in knowing who's in control of my life. But regardless, as that final song played, I couldn't help but remember all the times I had made that cry my own. And to be there in that moment, singing along with Bono, knowing that I didn't end up singing "this song" forever and that through God's strength I had overcome - It was just overwhelming.
It was Saturday night... and Sunday Morning. There's just no better way to describe it.