I figure I'll just tell the story of everything chronologically and hopefully get all the details right.
Because Nashville airport is anti-cool or something of the sort, there are no direct flights to Boston and thus I had to fly via Washington. The first leg of the trip went fine and I must say it was fun flying into Reagan International Airport, but because Boston decided to really turn on the weather, we had to sit for almost an hour in Washington before we were cleared to leave for Boston. I must say, considering the low visibility and poor conditions, I pity both the plane crews and air traffic control that day. But I finally got into Boston, called for my airport shuttle, walked outside ... and found myself in gorgeous weather. No, seriously. I'm a Wellingtonian. Below ten degrees Celsius makes me happy. It's something you don't encounter so regularly in Queensland. Evil Queensland, the state that has sucked all cold tolerance out of me. I was cold, my hands were absolutely frozen, but - call me nuts - I liked it.
I checked into the hotel, dumped my bags in the room, had fun trying not to get lost 1. finding the subway and then 2. changing trains at Park Street, but finally found myself at North Station, which is right under the Fleet Centre, about an hour later than I intended to be. Poor Matthew (screendoor3) had been waiting all that time, and after pretty much getting lost again, I totally randomly ran into - or more precisely, nearly walked right past - him on a stairway. We hung around in the delightful weather for a bit and then headed into the building for the show.
We were up on the uppermost level for this show, section 307, but as it's nearly directly opposite the stage, it was actually a great spot. Shame I forgot my binoculars, though I probably wouldn't have used them anyway. They would've just been a hassle. I expected myself to be rather calm and reserved - heh, I was wrong. In any case, Kings Of Leon opened and lost me very quickly. They made the mistake of playing their worst songs first (not that I know the titles), and their sound just wasn't nice on the ears. I didn't have earplugs this night because I was too far away to need them, but even then, Kings Of Leon would've been better a bit quieter. And if, you know, their singer could sing. They also have utterly no stage presence, might as well be made out of cardboard, and should not play arenas. I can see how they'd suit clubs, but playing to arenas - to a U2 crowd, of all people - is a big mistake. But thankfully, they were soon out of the way and the arena started to seriously fill.
Wake Up. I thought the section I was in was going to be dead, especially when not that many of us stood for the intro music, Wake Up by the Arcade Fire, but then U2 took the stage and people around us found their feet. In fact, by the end, I think pretty much everyone was standing.
City Of Blinding Lights - this is an absolutely stellar opener. The intro is gorgeous, the lighting is superb, and the band performed it flawlessly. They then rocked into Vertigo, and I just could not contain my excitement when that merged into Stories For Boys at the end. There's a place I go and I am far away, there's a TV show and I can grow, E-LE-VAY-SHUN! So it didn't go quite like that, but Vertigo/Stores For Boys was followed by Elevation, a song that I think has been totally and completely unfairly trashed by some parts of the U2 community. It's not the deepest number in the history of the world, but there's a reason why I was humming this the next day - because it was AWESOME. The crowd participation, the call and response, Larry's involvement, the entire thing is just sensational. It was a great thrill; Elevation is a song made to be played live and to get a crowd going, and it most certainly does not disappoint. I think you're a little crazy if you don't enjoy it.
If you don't know ... E-LEC-TRIC COOOOOO.!!! One of the highlights of my life. I still cannot believe I have had the pleasure of hearing The Cry/The Electric Co. live. How can I put this into words? It rocked. HARD. Hands down one of U2's most awesome songs and it never should've been abandoned for seventeen and a half years. But after it, I was so exhausted I needed a breather, and U2 provided it with The Ocean. That might've come out wrong. What I mean is that The Ocean is a beautiful, subtle little number: I could just stand there and regain my breath while letting it wash over me, pardon the pun. It was followed by Beautiful Day, which of course sent the crowd ballistic, though I personally remained somewhat subdued (by my standards; maybe screendoor3 thinks differently) because 1. I was still exhausted (just six songs in!) and 2. although it's good, it's not one of my top songs. It was followed by Miracle Drug and Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, the emotional high point of the show, the part where the music really gets inside you and does all kinds of things with your emotions. I also must say I was thankful for the placing of these songs - they aren't ones you exactly jump around to, so I got more breath and energy back. I sure needed it.
Love And Peace Or Else! Sunday Bloody Sunday! Bullet The Blue Sky! Political rock at its finest. LAPOE was stunning and awesome, SBS was incredible, and the transition into Bullet was just out of this world. I love that part so much. The way U2 can seamlessly go from touching your heart to making you scream "NO MORE!" in political fury is sheer brilliance. LAPOE is one of the finest songs U2 have made, and SBS and Bullet sound just as good - or in Bullet's case, better - than on their debut tours back in 1983 and 1987. Of course, Bullet will never touch the heights it reached in 1992-93, but this new version is so very mournful and desperate. It creates a perfect transition into Running To Stand Still, one of the most beautiful songs ever made. I could've cried. As it reached the "she walks through streets" verse, it hit possibly the most beautiful moment of the concert. The guy next to me and I both tried to start a "still running" chant, and although we had no success, the band's "halle, halle, hallelujah"s were more than sufficient to satisfy us anyway.
In the naaaaame of loooove! Pride is sounding sensational these days, and screaming the chorus along with twenty thousand other people is incredible. The people clamouring for it to be cut - geez, do they even appreciate this, or are they just fuming over their unreasonable anger that Pride is still being played while Acrobat has never appeared live? Pride, like Elevation, is one of those numbers that suits the live setting perfectly, and - as much as I think Acrobat is one of the ten best songs ever made and do not rank Pride as highly - cultivates crowd atmosphere much more than a number like Acrobat could. And the atmosphere matters, as both crowd and band feed off each other. As Bono said in the early days, "give more to us so we can give more back to you, it's up to you". That's the thing about U2's concerts, the crowd is a genuine participant rather than just being a collection of onlookers, and that can be seen best in songs like the one that followed Pride, Where The Streets Have No Name. Everyone's on their feet, jumping and screaming - or if you're me, holding your hands high, letting the entire experience wash over me. Though the top Streets for me came on the 28th. The 24th still had an incredible Streets, my first, one I will never forget, watching the African flags on the light curtains and then the light washing over the crowd. Streets was followed by One, and while I think this song is way over-rated and over-done, the part where everyone raised their mobile phones at the end (much like how people once raised lighters) was incredible. A wonderful moment of unity. We're one but we're not the same.
Encore! Encore! ENCORE! ZOO STATION! Woah. The intro to that went right through my body. That was SO COOL. It's a great encore opener, and next came one of U2's most rocking numbers, a song I couldn't wait to hear ... THE FLY! The most remarkable thing about The Fly is that although it was made in 1991, it sounds better than ever today, rocking harder than ever before. CONTRADICTION IS BALANCE! EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG! beLIEve! The first night, I had so much fun watching all the writing flashing on the screens - and I'm glad I did, as it was my only real opportunity to view it in all its glory. Third anf finally for the first encore was a great rendition of Mysterious Ways, and then the stage was empty again.
ENCORE! ENCORE! ENCORE! All Because Of You! It was about this time that I realised it would work rather well with All Along The Watchtower live. It rocked a lot, and then came Yahweh. Beautiful, tender, gentle, and perfect. So much better than the album version. And then 40. 40. 40! I had tears in my eyes, I cried, I was part of a 40 chant. Another highlight of my life, something I will never forget. You can't surpass 40 as a closer, you simply can't. I'd challenge someone to find a better concert closer, except it would be a challenge in vain because 40 is unable to be defeated. That's not opinion, that's fact. Hoooooow looooooooong to sing this song! The band eased off stage, the crowd chanted ... and then the house lights came on. It was over.
Or, for Matthew and I, not quite. Exhausted, we sat down ... and started yelling for songs. Anyone there who hung around would've heard us. People gave us funny looks. I yelled the entire tracklist of Zooropa and then The Unforgettable Fire. Matthew called for stuff like Red Light. We just kept going - Treasure, Twilight, One Tree Hill. We finally made our way down the stairs, and at the bottom of each flight, I'd take a leap and yell "Heartland!" And we weren't even drunk. I bet most people thought we were. HEARTLAND!
Even though we were almost as far away as you could be, that concert was an incredible experience - U2 really do play right to the back row. It was sensational, an incredible experience, the kind of thing you could never ever forget. 10/10 and then some. U2 - the best band ever. Words just cannot sum up that concert.
And I still had two more shows to go. Expect to hear about them soon. Life rocks so much.