I was going to write this post almost three weeks ago – the weekend immediately after I saw U2 in Pittsburgh. Life happened, emotional volatility happened, depression happened and I felt so crappy yesterday that I actually almost deleted this blog altogether.
But then, my husband happened and he helped me remember that I’m not doing all this for nothing. So, here I am, writing about a concert that was the better part of a month ago, because this is my blog and I’ll do what I want with it!
I’ve been a fan of the U2 for as long as I can remember – my parents got a mix CD as a wedding favor when I was a kid, and the second I heard Sweetest Thing, I was hooked. Other musical obsessions have come and gone, but I always find myself putting their discography on shuffle when I’m on a road trip or having a bad – or terrific – day.
This is a blog post about my favorite band.
Say what you will about U2 (and Bono, in particular). They’re too feel-good, they’re over-exposed, whatever. They don’t care about that, which I think is part of why I love them so very much. They have done exactly what they want to do for 40 years now. They make music that connects with their audience.
One of my earliest memories of listening to them has me in the backseat of whatever car my dad was borrowing from his dealership at the time. I had my discman, and I had Joshua Tree borrowed from the library. I was probably nine years old, and With or Without You had me sobbing like a damn fool (and trying to hide my tears from my parents). I obviously hadn’t yet experienced heartache like Bono’s wailing, but I felt the emotion in his voice, in those ringing guitar chords, in the crashing drums.
That connection was something I needed, even though I didn’t quite realize it at the time.
I don’t want every blog post here to become “Hey, did you know I’m a depressed mess?!” but it’s something to note in this post. My depression manifests itself in loneliness – I’m extroverted and outgoing, but when I’m not actively engaged with people, I often feel like the entire world is pulling away from me. Enter Bono.
The One Campaign is not without fault, and I’ve never ignored that. What I love about it is its simplest philosophy. Bono explained it in his pre-One performance in Pittsburgh. Basically, you can, and should be able to, connect with every single person, from every walk of life, on at the very least, ONE topic. One common ground. One tiny thing that allows you to see the humanity in everyone. That connection is something I’ve made an effort to remember every day, whether I’m annoyed with seemingly everyone at work, or I’m feeling particularly hopeless. I’m not alone, no one is.
So, three weeks back, my husband and I went to one of my favorite cities, to see my favorite band. I was supposed to see their 360 Tour a few years back, but I was without transportation, so my tickets went to waste. I was heartbroken, but I think I’m actually happier now that this Joshua Tree 2017 Tour was my first. It’s so apparent how much this tour means to the band, which made it that much more special.
I’m not exactly sure what the best way to write about my experience is, so I’m just going to intersperse the rest of this post with pictures from the show (sorry for the crap quality – we were in literally the last row and the stands were actually moving the entire time, the crowd was so into it), with thoughts and memories. Basically, if you don’t care about U2, this isn’t the post for you?
Okay, first off, I can’t be a lifelong fan of U2 without some fangirling over Bono. He’s aging like a fine, fine wine, and he looks so joyful that I often forgot that he’s nearing 60. He ran around the stage, grinned boyishly, and just clearly had the time of his life on that massive tree.
Being in the back row meant we were surrounded by… interesting people. The best, though, was the man we now affectionately refer to as Dancing Guy. This dude… was living his best life. The second U2 took the stage, his shirt was off, and he proceeded to dance like a maniac the. entire. concert. He only stopped flailing his arms to eat french fries that his not-thrilled sons had. I only looked away from the stage to watch him dancing, and each time, I was overcome with joyful laughter.
(This post is all over the place and I’m sorry)
So, I went into this assuming that they would play Joshua Tree first, then go into a small greatest hits set. They actually start with five or songs before Where the Streets Have No Name happens, and when it does… god. The chills, as the stage turned red and the Joshua Tree glowed and those driving guitars set off. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. The sun had just completely set and the night just became sincerely alive.
Speaking of the sky, moments before U2 took the stage, a rainbow appeared right over Heinz Field! It never rained, but it was super overcast… and then the sun happened to duck below the clouds just enough to cast a perfect rainbow. Un. Real.
Okay also! (I’m so sorry I’m doing this with no semblance of chronological order. This is a terrible post) The Lumineers were SO GOOD. I’ve listened to them a little before, and their brand of drum-and-guitar-heavy folksy rock is right up my alley, but I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did. Wesley Schultz’ voice rang over the rivers and he was so fun to watch. Consider me a new full-fledged fan.
The emotional climax of the concert came in Exit, a song I’ve rarely listened to, to be honest. That’s completely changed after this concert – now, that mostly-instrumental jam is one of my go-to’s when driving. For the concert, Bono rants and raves and struts around the stage as Shadow Man. IT WAS A LOT TO TAKE IN AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND.
If you’ve known me for any number of years, you know how much of a role music has played in my life. I grew up doing theater and singing in various bands and choirs. I haven’t performed in several years now, but truthfully, the only thing I miss is the power music has to, at once, connect you to something bigger than yourself, and to entirely disconnect you from the real world. That feeling was so overpowering that night in Pittsburgh. I could glance up from the stage and see downtown, and see people carrying about their normal evening. They were removed from what I was experiencing, but because we’re all people just trying to get by… I felt overwhelming love and humanity.
Um, this post is a mess and I am sincerely sorry if you wasted your time reading it. I guess if you’ve stuck around til now, I can tell you that I couldn’t get enough of this tour… so I got myself a GA ticket for their Buffalo date – and I’m doing the damn thing. I’m going to find the line the morning before the show, camp out if I’m able to, and try like hell to get right up on the rail. This band means more to me than I can properly express here. Clearly. Since this post is a disaster.
Thanks for… reading? Hopefully next time, I’ll be able to write cohesively?