"Bono . . . doesn't slave for weeks on the nuances of a lyric or a melody. He comes in and kind of leaps, and that can be an incredibly inspiring thing to see."
This was my first U2 show of the tour, 26th of all time. It had been 18 years since my first U2 concert and four years almost to the day since my last! (7/20/11). Needless to say, I had been anticipating this weekend for some time. My husband and I had purchased our tickets during the first day of the U.S. fan club presale, which had been a really frustrating experience. Unable to pull up any NYC shows, we set our sights on a weekend getaway to Boston, a city we love to visit. I had never seen a U2 show at the Garden, but had seen the Foxboro shows on Popmart. I always enjoy seeing U2 play in multiple cities over the course of the tour, and with an infant baby, Boston seemed the furthest I was willing to travel for one night. It being a Saturday would allow us to go without taking vacation time. At the time I bought the tickets, I desperately was looking forward to a weekend away. As an added bonus, my longtime U2 buddy and Propaganda-era penpal was also planning to attend, so I was excited to experience the same show (though we had seats and he had GA).
We had a great dinner at a pizza place a few blocks from the venue where I actually ran into a former colleague from when we both worked for U2's music distribution company! U2 has always found a way to make the world feel small, and here I was running into one of a handful of people I know in Boston, and a huge U2 fan nonetheless!
We entered the venue at about 7:30, giving us 45 minutes to take in the stage set up and feel the excitement. Our tickets were the FRONT ROW of Loge 14, and aisle seats! I had pictured them more towards the center of the venue from the seating charts, but in reality we were to the side of the stage, almost in line with Larry's drum kit. My husband and I are just under/over 6 feet tall, so with the stage being high, we had an OK view of the band but I felt bad for the 5-foot tall woman next to us who would struggle to see- also fanclub ticket holders. We could actually see our friend on the floor - the GA set up is so much better on this tour in that you do not have to queue for hours to get a good spot.
We were warned to wear earplugs this tour and boy was the Boston crowd LOUD! Certainly I contributed with some screaming (easily done as no one was sitting in front of us!). Before the band played a chord, the crowd was cheering in anticipation. Although I purposely avoided studying the set list in advance, I knew they would open with "Miracle of Joey Ramone," which was fantastic live. In fact, ALL of the new songs sounded amazing live, even better than the album versions, which is hard to do! I have to say the new songs were my favorite to hear live. I was anticipating hearing my favorite classics, but to be honest there were a few I could have traded in to hear Volcano" or "California" instead. Hopefully they will work them in as the tour progresses.
The first half of the show was my favorite as we were in such close proximity to the band. I have never been SO close for a U2 concert. So close, I giggled to myself, I could almost see their wrinkles! I reveled in the ability to watch Edge actually play the most iconic guitar lines in history, and balance the piano and guitar playing on some songs. The screen was incredible. I had seen some YouTube footage so I knew to expect to see Bono walk through it, but was amazed at his ability to walk from one end to the other while other images covered him, so he could continuously walk back to front on "10 Cedarwood Rd." I had wondered how U2 could incorporate TVs after 360, but who thought they would be IN the TV!! Genius. 10 Cedarwood and Song for Someone were my favorites of the show. Seeing teenage Bono hanging out in his bedroom and family home in "Song for Someone" just cut right through to me. The song holds a special significance to me lyrically and seeing his adorable little image made me break down crying. Later, I learned the image was fashioned after his son Eli!! Bono changed the lyric at the end of the song, "plenty of reasons to doubt, if there is a light don't let it go out." "Iris" particularly spoke to me during the show. While not an album favorite, I loved the live rendition and being a new Mom away from her son, the song spoke to me in a new way. I can't imagine losing my Mom at such a tender age and I can't imagine what that would be like for a young boy. Although I have been to Dublin twice and done some of the U2 sights, I have never been to 10 Cedarwood and now I am craving a trip to drive past.
I had read that Gavin Friday had been seen in the Red Zone taking notes, so during the intermission/"Wanderer" video, I saw him walk by, out the Red Zone exit. Almost instinctively, I high-fived him and he high-fived me back! I am not sure how I did it so quickly but was swept up in the excitement and hopefully he was amused. I saw him walk in and out several more times that night, dictating notes into a white earpiece and taking notes on a tablet and or notebook.
I found it difficult to accurately hear Bono talking in between songs and to be honest I felt the sound in the Garden a bit muddy. However, there was one quote of the night I loved so much I wrote it down, "this is a sacred place for us, our Saturday night is your Sunday," speaking loads to how seeing (and playing!) a U2 gig is a transcendent, spiritual experience.
When Bono introduced Bad he talked about the 30th anniversary of LiveAid. A few days later, Rolling Stone wrote up a terrific review of their performance and how important it was to their career. It was a cool rock moment to be a part of. The song hasn’t been played in the most recent few shows, so we were lucky to get to hear it.
The second major highlight of the night was that the band came off stage right in front of us! I was not anticipating this as they came on stage a different way. I screamed and cheered with the other fans but I must have been the loudest and most exuberant because the Edge looked right at me and smiled as he waved to fans and exited. Yes, a security guard was holding me back and yes I was a total fan girl inside and out!
Lastly, I hadn't premeditated this, but at the end of the night I was able to scream loud enough that Edge’s guitar tech gave me a pick from the Edge! That really made the experience special. Can’t buy those at the merch table….
Although we didn't know it, the band turned the set list upside down for the second half of the show. They were on the b-stage a good amount but I also learned hat we were lucky that they spent more time back on the main stage than previous nights. There weren't any previously unplayed songs or rarities pulled out this night. We did notice Bono emphatically directing the band to "One" by raising his one finger and shouting “One” to them. Later we learned that "Troubles" had been noted on the list but perhaps Bono wasn't feeling up to it as he let the crowd sing several verses of "One." That might also explain why the band did not sign for fans that day in Boston, or after the show. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of our hero but later learned Bono had jetted off to Montauk.
The show was an incredible start to my five show journey this leg. I was happy to experience my first show from seats, as I feel more prepared for my last three shows on the floor. There is just so much to take in and see.
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