Monday, August 17, 2009

U2 at Wembley

On Friday, the Irishman and I trekked out to Wembley Stadium to join 88,000 other fans for the first of U2's London concerts. The concert tickets were my birthday present to the Irishman, who turns 30somethingorother in two weeks. He halfheartedly tried to purchase tickets when they went on sale earlier this year, and when he didn't get them I pounced on the case.

One Ebay scammer, a transcontinental Facebook conference with the Irishman's best friend living in Ohio, and a saving grace on Gumtree and I had two highly sought after General Admission tickets on the pitch at Wembley to surprise him with. Only the cheeky monkey figured out the surprise with a week to go.

Now, I don't pretend to be a U2 fan; it's not that I don't like them, per se, but I've always thought that they jumped the shark around the time I went to college (probably with Pop). But the Irishman is, in fact, Irish, and so is U2, and I've come to find out that U2 is to the Irish as Bruce Springsteen is to New Jerseyites; it doesn't matter if they are critically shit. It's a birthright, and obligation. So, the good and loving girlfriend that I am, I went along for the ride. How bad could it be? Besides, Elbow were the opener and I've been gagging to see them since the beginning of the year.

Well. Let me tell you. U2 is not just a rock concert. It is like being in a music video. The stage ("the Claw") was phenomenal, with a rotating and descending video screen, outer stage surround, and rotating bridges for access. The spaceship on the top lit up and dry ice smoke was artfully released. The thing about U2 is that they are not just rockstars, or popstars - they have mastered the art of entertaining, so every note that Bono belts out is paired perfectly with a pose. My first thought during the first song was to wonder whether it was actually Bono singing, or if it was a music video; the camera work and special effects right there on the stage were as good or better than anything you will see on MTV.

Obviously, it being U2, the show wasn't without any political statements. Bono dedicated "Walk On" to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese political prisoner, and "With or Without You" to Eunice Kennedy Shriver (which was a bit odd to me because I didn't think British people would understand what she did or know who she was). "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was an amazing rendition sung on a bright green stage, and at the end Bono whipped out a Unionjack and the Irish flag tied together. WOOT.

Seven hours later, the Irishman and I straggled out of the stadium sweaty, sore, and absolutely thrilled with the show. I am now completely converted, and will gladly go to any U2 show, and fully intend on stalking Bono and The Edge when I go to Dublin later this year.

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