Monday, September 19, 2005

Slow Down My Beating Heart

Seems I've chased away any regular readers I used to get with all my recent U2 content. I'm sad to report that the band has indeed left Toronto, so this should be the last of the U2 posts.

It's also amusing to me that I can accumulate 1600 hits on one photo alone, and yet have no comments left at all!

"U2 Week" in Toronto was a very exciting and interesting time for me. I was so busy and hyped up that I missed out on a lot of sleep. Compounding that with the many hours I stood outside waiting in the moonlight, I now have a nasty cough. It's the first ailment I've had since I got my tonsils out: what ordinarily would have been a swollen throat kind of thing has turned into a congested, hard-of-breathing chest thing which is meddling with my athsma. I don't quite know what to think of this...

But anyway...here are a few key points pertaining to "U2 Week".

- Getting into the Ellipse on Monday night. For the unaware, let me explain that there was a random selection system for choosing which GA ticket holders would get to go into the special enclosure right up with the band. Everyone in the GA line was in agony with suspense. When Anisa and I were going into the concert, my ticket was scanned and a special 'Vertigo' logo popped up on the computer screen. I had The Golden Ticket. It was one of only about 100 per show. Immediately, I was crying and shrieking to Anisa, and then, we were running running running through the bowels of the arena to claim the best possible spot. We ended up at the absolute front of the crowd, with a direct, unobscured view of the stage. I was so overcome with this fantastic stroke of luck that I was unable to speak for at least five minutes (I was sobbing too much). I cannot believe that we were chosen at random for such an unbeatable concert experience. There were people who had slept on the pavement overnight, and there were others who had traveled from Europe and South America: somehow, WE were the charmed ones. In a stadium holding about 19,000 fans, there were only about half a dozen people with a better view than us. We were approximately 2 m right of Bono's mike stand, and 1.5 m from Adam's spot. Compared to regular GA, the Ellipse is very spacious. There is ample room to dance, pump fists in the air, hug and sway or jump up and down like maniacs.

- Interaction with the band. As I mentioned before, I did indeed get a few moments to chat with Bono. I was fortunate to meet him in the company of a very small group of calm, well-behaved fans. I feel even more fortunate after having witnessed the man being completely mobbed by a crowd: it was very dirty. It's amazing how little respect some fans show the object of their enthusiasm. Somehow in the middle of the horrible melee, my brother came away with an autograph from Bono. Ewan just stuck his 'With Or Without You' sheet music into the crowd, and it came out signed. That's cool for him, but I'm glad I wasn't part of that mess. Anisa and I also got some real face time with the band because of being in the first rank of the crowd. At one point, when the rest of the audience was distracted by Bono, I gave Edge a little wave and he waved right back to me, smiling as he always does. That man is such a good sport... We also had lots of fun with Adam Clayton. Read on.

- Adam is the new Bono. Excuse me, but when did Adam Clayton become the hottie of U2? It's not often that you can say that a 45 year old guy with hair dyed silver looks better than he ever has in his life. It seems Adam has been spreading the love from Vancouver to Vienna, sending smoldering stares and wicked grins into the front lines of the audience. Anisa, bless her, whispered to me mid-concert, "Adam keeps looking at you!" and indeed, I did have to admit that I thought he was too. But, I'm not pretending I'm special: the U2 fan forums are chock full of postings of "OMG! Adam was looking at me the whole show". I had never given any thought to Adam: I had dismissed him as a hack, reluctant and aloof with zero stage presence, and funny lookin', too. A little proximity and eye contact changed my opinion. Turns out he's a total rocker, cool as anything and very able to engage the crowd (especially the ladies). I never thought I'd be saying this but Sparky is my new favourite.

- A new perspective of the band. I had always considered U2 to be 'The Bono and Edge Show', with drummer Larry and bassist Adam just backing up the stars. But with such a close view of the band, I saw how tightly the four work together. And I also realized that producing live music like that does not come naturally. These guys have to try hard, even after 25 years of performances. Larry and Adam work like engine cylinders, quite literally pumping back and forth in the struggle to keep the U2 machine moving and on track. The only one who doesn't even break a sweat throughout the show is Edge, who creates an entire world of sound with an expression of calm and ease on his placid face.

- Fans are funny. A lot of the past week was like living 'Waiting for Godot'. We wait and wait and wait for someone to come. We engage in bizarre conversations with strangers, people tell us to go away, others tell us that 'he is not coming to meet us', but still we wait. Sometimes, something happens. Sometimes, nothing happens.

- Highlights. 'City of Blinding Lights' as experienced from the Ellipse on Monday. 'City' is my favourite 'new' U2 song and it was given spectacular staging. It's such a fun and uplifting song, and the lighting and effects matched that. Mid-song, a huge explosion of foil confetti shimmers down onto the crowd. We laugh and spin, like children catching snowflakes. It was pure joy. The flashback to ZooTV for The Fly and Zoo Station was great, too. Also, I liked having Dr. Anisa cry on my shoulder as her favourite song 'Miracle Drug' was dedicated to the doctors and nurses working to find new solutions to old problems. Another great treat was Wednesday's encore, 'BAD' from 'The Unforgettable Fire', performed with Daniel Lanois as a guest guitarist.

- Disappointments. It seems everyone and their granny got to meet Edge somewhere around town. He must be most patient man in showbiz. Sadly, I never got to meet him although I put in many hours waiting for the chance. Also, I didn't get to meet the more elusive Adam. Another let-down was that I missed out on hearing 'Discotheque' which was performed at the Saturday concert (it had not been played since 2001, I understand).

- My problem with 'One'. 'One' is a song about a relationship: a rocky relationship between two people. But is has been dedicated to so many causes that it's starting to lose its meaning for me. It seems that every time something bad happens in the world, U2 has to play 'One'. The song is full of metaphors relating to a romantic couple, but with every dedication of the song, the couple becomes a metaphor for... a warring city, a troubled continent, people being forsaken by their government ... All the lyrics have to become double metaphors! Of course, it's their song, so they can make it mean whatever they want. Still, I feel that 'One' is being torn away from the hearts of the fans every time it is dragged out in the name of the latest CNN story.

So, that's my commentary on "U2 Week". I swear I'm not some star-obsessed girl - the band members are pretty much the only celebrities in the world I would wait around to meet...

8 comments :

John said...

Ahhh bass & drum. Only reggae artists understand their true power. Bass & drum are the real body movers!

Anisa said...

Wonderful synopsis....
God I miss that week already.

Hikaru said...

according to this thread, One is about a son's troubled relationship with his father -- with the son being homosexual.

snippet: "I had the pleasure of working with engineer Keven Killen, who worked on the record with Flood, and we got to be friends. I asked him what the song was about, and he told me it was about Bono's relationship with his father..."

nicole said...

Wow, what a fantastic week, Andrea!

You sound like Charlie from Charlie & the Chocolate factory with the golden ticket :) Lucky lucky girl - thanks for sharing your U2 experience with the world!

And I have to agree with you on the 'Adam is the new Bono' point - he looks fantastic these days.

Brad said...

Thanks for the us of you photos Andrea! I'll probably get another post up later today to summarize more fo my thoughts from Saturday's show. Your "U2 Week" summary is great! I just had one U2 day and still doesn't seem real. Thanks again! Brad

Jorge said...

It was indeed a great week. Seems a bit bizarre to go home after work and not have a U2 show to attend. Great times!

Andrea said...

Thank you Anisa, Jorge and Ewan for your company! It was quite an experience and I was lucky to share it with you. Back to reality now. :(

I totally forgot to mention that we all heard the *first ever* performance of 'Fast Cars'. Only about 3% of the audience could sing along to this one - I was proud to be among the few.

Regarding 'One', there are a dozen theories about what it means. I just knew someone was going to pick a bone with me for chosing one interpretation! Regardless, my problem is that U2 keeps sending it out to every victimized person in the world...

Also forgot to mention that I was able to collect some essential fan info over the week. I am now able to identify the 'behind the scenes' people you need to know: Bono's bodyguard, Edge's guitar tech, Adam's guitar tech and Edge's bodyguard. This info can get you a guitar pick, a setlist or a meet-and-greet. So, now I'm ready for the next time they come to town!

Kinki said...

What a great week you had! I was lucky enough to meet the Edge back in ('nam) 1995, when I worked at the Wilderness Shop in Brisbane. I got to service him at the till, but I was sooooo nervous, I stuffed up the total and couldn't remember how to reverse it. He was very very patient and cool... sorry you didn't get to meet him (though I've never had the face time you've had with Bono). You are indeed, a chosen one...

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