Monday, September 14, 2009

U2 on a Monday

Last night I was in Soldier Field in Chicago for the second night of U2's 360 tour. It was a spectacular night, one I will always remember.

I am a huge U2 fan, but was somewhat skeptical that a stadium show could scratch my U2 itch. But once the concert started, I was so inside the experience that it just wasn't a factor, at least not negatively. In the words of "Put on Your Boots," the boys from Ireland "let me in the sound." I was close. But on the positive side, it was simply an amazing thing to be with nearly 100,000 people moving with one energy. Even leaving the stadium at the end of the concert, with all those people being pushed through a very limited space toward Grant Park, was a great feeling. We have all experienced something significant together.

But how do you describe the concert in words. The stage was enormous and quite the spectacle (the photo from a set done by Snow Patrol before U2 came on). A multi-media/giant spaceship that moved and lit up and displayed things on an enormous, expandable screen. It was a character in the U2 drama, and most of the time a positive one. The space/future theme of the stage was underscored by the opening as the band walked into "Major Tom" and by the ending as they left to "Rocket Man."

There is simply nothing like live music. The thumping bass in your chest. The ear splitting guitars. The energy of live performers, especially someone like Bono. The surprise of an innovation in lyric or melody or rhythm. This show had everything that makes live music great.

And of course with U2, you're looking for meaning, and Christian meaning. And last night's meaning was hope. This space ship was not 2001 a Space Odyssey, the future as an ominous darkness where technology threatens us. This future was hopeful and full of justice. Gone were some of the darker images related to society (e.g. Bullet the Blue Sky). This was God's future pressing on us.

My favorite U2 song is "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which has not been a regular on their concert playlists on recent tours. This is properly an eschatological song. There's still something coming, the kingdom come, "where all the colors bleed into one. You know I'm still running." It was their 6th song this evening, right on the heels of Magnificent and Beautiful Day. It was worshipful, and it was not lost on Bono that we were gathered on a Sunday.

The best part of the evening for me was the first encore. The band had left the stage and the first thing we saw to open the encore was an amazing video from Desmond Tutu. He said that the same people who fought for civil rights in America were the same people who fought Apartheid in South Africa and who continue to fight injustice in the world today. He was animated and joyful as he designated us gathered that night as the same people--the very same people who had fought in all of these places. And he promised us that the wind of God's justice would be at our backs. At the video's end, the band played "One." Perfect. And then Bono played his guitar and sang a soulful verse of "Amazing Grace," which led into the properly eschatological, "Where the Streets Have No Name." All we needed was the eucharist. (The people down the row from us had their own elements, an incense all its own).

This was what worship should be. A diverse group moving as one. Pure bliss and joyful embodiment. Praise accompanied by acknowledgement of the world as it is (with not a little complaining and lamenting). And hope for what the world will one day become in the grace of God. A call to belong to that day. Perfect.

Set list

2.No Line On The Horizon
3.Get On Your Boots
5.Beautiful Day / King Of Pain (snippet) / Blackbird (snippet)
6.I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
8.Your Blue Room
9.Unknown Caller
10.Until The End Of The World
11.Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
12.The Unforgettable Fire
13.City Of Blinding Lights
15.I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / I Want To Take You Higher (snippet)
16.Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah (snippet)
17.In the Name of Love
18.Walk On

1st Encore
19.One / Amazing Grace (snippet)
20.Where The Streets Have No Name / All You Need Is Love (snippet)

2nd Encore

21. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment of Surrender


MAG said...

I was at both shows; Snow patrol was so good! I really loved them. U2, as usual, really uplifted me and the Claw needed to be seen to be believed.

Anonymous said...

ah man, beautiful. can't wait for Oct 6.

btw, i saw the boys leaving their hotel (Park Hyatt Chicago) on Friday while on the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I threw my fare at the cabbie, jumped out, ran across the street, and joined the mob. Saw Larry, then hoisted myself on the back bumper of one of their vans for a better view, then got some good pics of the Edge, but nothing clear of Bono. He's a short guy and the crowd surged toward him... But it was electric, and my stomach was strangely full of butterflies. It was messianic or something. I didn't think a rock star's presence would have that much power over me. Very strange and wonderful and scary all at once.

Mark Love said...

Tyler, you told The Edge you know me, right? That might have gotten you in. Very cool.

Bobbie said...

I'd read your comment before I sat in your three classes at Summit. What shall I say? Blessed by your first hand account of the show, by your spirit-stretching challenges, by your precious "show and tell" dialogue with Joshua...who by the way was my van driver to the Tuesday night dinner at Hillcrest...the Spirit is blowing mightily in my 77th year.