Friday, June 26, 2015

U2- The Experience

Bono at the United Center
I've never kept track of how many times that I've seen U2 over the years. It has been many ... and what I saw last night was truly the experience that the boys have meant to put together. It's a visual and audio scrapbook full of the moments of what has made them the band that they are and their journey through the last three decades of sound to a point where they can look back and find that they aren't that far away from the origin of the species (yes, that is a U2 song) or genesis of the band.

The show opened up hard core. Bono loves to explain that they are a punk rock band. The punk being the idea of the band more than the music itself ... their songs have always been more contemplative that what Johnny Rotten offered up. And though the Clash were certainly social commentators, they never looked into the soul of their reason for being quite like what U2 has done, I would argue, all along. I thought that I was in a mosh pit; unfortunately, the guy next to me wasn't real happy when I slammed into him ... gently, of course.

When the Songs of Innocence was released to iTunes, I was over the moon. I had been waiting for a new U2 record quite impatiently. I was so flustered by the news that it had arrived that I had a hard time getting it into my iTunes library. Unlike those that had a bottle of milk delivered that that they didn't want, I thought that the idea of the transaction was very punk. And I listened to it until I warped it and then the retail release came, and I bought it. The release included a couple of new songs and new arrangements of all of the original ones. The reimagining of the songs sooth me. If the bands intent was to write great songs, they accomplished it. The songs are beautiful, poignant, and universal with their themes of love and loss, time and tide. During Song for Someone, I was very close to Bono as he sang from the stage. I had my arms up in the air, my body swayed from side to side, and I belted it out with him:
You let me into a conversation
A conversation only we could make
You're breaking into my imagination
Whatever's in there is yours to take

As I sang it with him, he locked into me. I felt it. And I would have thought that it was a schoolgirl imagining except that my sister also felt it. That's the thing about Bono and the band, I don't mean to leave them out of this, one could be of many, yet it can be one that feels singularly connected to him/them. To the song. To the energy of the venue. To the celebration of heart and purpose.

The show was not without politic. How can Irishmen not be about that. And it resonated and rang bells. I felt particularly sure of it when Bono sang for the victims of the South Carolina massacre Pride. And though I usually feel the pride that he sings of in this song, it became sorrowful. Over and over he said that America is an idea, America is an idea. And he knows from his work in the world that it is when you think that you've conquered something that it rears its ugly impossibility somewhere else. And we, in America, have a lot of somewhere elses of late. I couldn't help but be reminded that a block away from where I work, a drive by hit four people, one of whom has died. What part of the idea allows for these senseless, if that's the right word, acts to occur.

I suppose this is what keeps me coming back to an U2 show. It is an exchange of ideas, emotion, and love. I feel empowered as I walk out the door and wonder what my part is in the idea. I haven't just had too many overpriced beers, I'm thinking. I've been shaken from the stupor that is day to day. And this is very punk.

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