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U2 360 Concert Review - When Love Comes To Town

 article about U2 360 Concert Review - When Love Comes To Town
2012-04-17 04:25:55
Whilst not a regular concert goer, I recently attended the U2 360 tour concert in Sydney, Australia. Being a bit older and not quite up to the intensity of the ‘mosh pit' a group of us sat in stadium seats a fair way back and elevated from the stage. This gave me a dual perspective as both participant and spectator. As we entered the venue I was keen to see what sort of crowd U2 drew these days. Since Bono graciously relinquished the title of world super group to Cold Play, was there still a legion of U2 fans unhappy Bono had passed the mantle without consulting them. By their presence casting their vote for U2?

As we took our seats I scanned the crowd. Behind me an older couple, sixty plus. A few rows in front of us were four girls in their late teens, maybe early twenties, with beaming smiles. I couldn't help thinking, almost with a sense of moral authority; they had less right to be there than I did. I was born in 1971. I bought my first U2 album, October, in 1984. I was a fan before the band hit the big time. They were the band of my generation. The music was there for me at a time when all teenagers are trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them. I particularly remember thinking the lyrics of U2 songs were talking to me. They reached me at a deeper level and gave me hope ….…running to stand still….and when it's raining in the heart…raining…. raining in your heart……I was sailor I was lost at sea…..love rescue me. With all that emotional energy burning inside me, their music gave me an excuse to let it go and for a brief time that gave me relief from the pain. The girls in front weren't born when I started listening to U2 and the oldies behind would have been in their mid to late thirties. How could they have the same affinity with U2 songs as I did? I was sure I was going to get more from the performance than they ever could.

The other question was, had U2 lost the raw energy of those earlier years? They were getting older too. In public life Bono has become well known for his philanthropy. Had his day job as a rock n' roll star taken a back seat to political activism? Were rock concerts a slide line or where they still core business? With a gigantic structure known as the ‘claw' was straddling stage was this to be another one of those concerts with crazy special effects masking a poor quality live performance. Old rockers run out of roll.

Jay Z was the support act. The mosh pit lapped him up but it wasn't for me. Finally U2 came to the stage. Bono introduced the band. They needed no introduction, but it helped to get to know them a bit better. With all the usual platitudes he welcomed the crowd. ‘We love you Sydney and we hope to give you a night to remember' The crowd cheered back but I wasn't convinced.

Shortly after the opening song the reverberation of the electric piano rang out and we were on the way to a ‘Beautiful Day.' The girls threw their arms in the air and their smiles grew wider. After this favourite we heard some of the newer songs. No line on the Horizon and Magnificent. At the end of each song Bono gave the crowd some encouragement and they responded with cheers. It seemed a bit manufactured, and these weren't the songs I came to hear, but with each song the momentum started to build.

As the energy of the crowd grew it was lifting the band. As the band lifted, the crowd responded. Each was feeding off each other. There was a nervous sense of anticipation for the big songs we all there for. Often Bono could be seen lunging forward with one leg forward and one leg extended back, like a weightlifter steadying himself for the final lift of the clean and jerk. There was a huge weight of expectation and Bono was working hard not to disappoint.

And then the real show started. You got this strong sense Bono was allowing his whole being to become an instrument of something much bigger than himself. Perhaps he didn't have a choice. The band was in a different place now and the masses weren't far behind. They had managed to transport themselves and us to another world and it was real. Bono was holding this weight high above his head and the crowd was helping to keep it there.

I was under the waves; Before love rescued me; I was a fighter, I could turn on a thread
Now I stand accused of the things I've said; Frequently Bono's eyes were closed as he searched within. Love comes to town I'm gonna jump that train; When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame. The emotion and tones in his voice grew new depth. Everyone had a gentle sway. I couldn't' help thinking of a mother nursing an unsettled baby with a similar sway and the slow melodies of ‘love rescue me' were having the same calming effect.

Then Pride. One man come in the name of love. After Pride we had a brief reprieve with some more recent songs. I found it harder to sing along.

After a slow crescendo and with Amazing Grace as the lead in, then it was, the one we had all been waiting for. I want to run I want to hide. Everyone was on their feet. How sweet the sound. I wanna tear down the walls; That hold me inside; A torrent of inspiration was flowing through the crowd. I want to feel, sunlight on my face. We were all singing with joy from deep within. It didn't matter if you didn't know all the lyrics, we all knew the words. I was singing out loud. The girls were dancing, at times jumping, in the aisles. Even the sixty year olds behind were rocking uninhibited to the beat. Everyone was in it together. We were in a different place, like I was back in my bedroom all those years ago. Where the streets have no name; Oh, when I go there, I go there with you; I am sure we could have listened to the same song over and over.

The song finished with a snippet of the Beatles classic All You Need is Love. Can it be that simple? To finish we heard With or Without You and Moment of Surrender. Mine had come much earlier. And then it was over. Sorry girls, sorry mum and dad behind. How could I have had such selfish thoughts. This music is for everyone. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did the night love came to town.




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