Tag Archives: Bono

The magic, music and technological wonder of my first live U2 concert. And as strange a triple play as you’ll ever see

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I don’t have much of a music concert bucket list.

I’ve seen a lot of my favorites over the years, and can pretty much recall in specific detail some of the greatest performances I’ve seen and smile about them still (Tom Petty at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen).

But a couple of years ago I realized that there were two giant holes in my concert resume: I’d never seen Bruce. And I’d never seen U2.

Well, bucket list completed. Saw Bruce in 2012, and Thursday night, at a frenetic, pulsating Madison Square Garden, I finally got to see the band that strongly influenced my teen years.

U2 is often hailed as the greatest live band in the world, and man oh man were they ever fantastic Thursday night. Lots of times in life we hype things up in our minds so much that when we actually experience the thing, it’s a letdown.

Thursday night was most definitely not a let down. Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton, The Edge and an AIDS activist/world peace attempter/lead singer of an Irish rock band named Bono kicked serious rock and roll ass for 150 minutes.

Some thoughts on the show from my rocked-out brain, where three days later I’m still humming some of the songs I heard:

— First, they sounded great. But the look of the show was incredible. I’ve seen giant stages before, seen bands get up close to their fans, seen hi-tech video boards. I’ve never seen anything like the enormous “virtual reality”-like screens at this show (above photo). When Bono sang a few songs about his childhood, he literally disappeared into the board and “walked” down Cedarwood Road, where he lived as a kid. Throughout the show there were these incredible video montages (and even calling them “montages” doesn’t do them justice, they were like mini-movies) and they were mesmerizing.

— Thanks to age and his famous bike accident, Bono doesn’t run around and go nuts like he used to do. But damn if he still doesn’t have incredible stage presence. Even when he was not singing, just talking about huge breakthroughs in AIDS treatment or about his first girlfriend, he commanded the arena like few singers I’ve ever seen.

— Funniest thing to me Thursday was how Bono always called his lead guitarist “The Edge,” when talking to him, always making sure to put the “The” in there. He would say stuff like “The Edge, what should we do next?” Cracked me up every time. Like after all these years, you can’t just call him “Edge?”

— Waited 27 years to hear my all-time favorite U2 song, “With or Without You,” live. I first heard that song in 1988 and immediately went out and bought the record (“What’s a record, Grandpa?”) and listened to it at least 15 straight times on my stereo’s record player in my bedroom. Three decades later, it still moves me.

— There are lots of feelings I’d like to experience in my life still, and I hope I’ll feel most of them. But there are two I don’t think I’ll ever get to live out, and I have long thought about and desired them, and saw Bono enjoy both on Thursday night.
First, I would kill to find out what it’s like to walk out on stage, look out on 20,000 people, and hear all of them screaming in excitement for you. Just because they love your music, know you’re about to make them happy, and are so damn excited to see you. God, that’s got to feel great.

The other feeling, related to that one, Bono got to experience during the final song of the encore. As the band started to play “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono held the mic up to the MSG crowd and let us sing the first two verses of that classic. To hear 20,000 people belting out a song they know by heart, belting out your song back to you? Got to be incredible.

— A kid in the row behind us who looked to be around 8 years old was there with his obviously super-cool parents. The kid was rocking out hard to every song until about 9:45 p.m., an hour into the show, when I looked back and saw him passed out in his chair. Party hard, man, party hard.

**Finally today, two baseball things to pass on. First, Pedro Martinez, who I believe is the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen in my lifetime (apologies to Messrs. Maddux and Clemens), gave a wonderful Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown Sunday; check it out here. Second, check out this crazy strange play in baseball Sunday that hadn’t happened since 1955. It was a triple play turned by the Seattle Mariners against Toronto, but it was a 3-6-2 triple play. Two of the three outs were made at 3rd base, and the Mariners’ third baseman never touched teh ball.

Hard to do. Pretty horrendous base-running. I love how clueless and helpless Toronto’s third-base coach looked here; I’m pretty sure the Bad News Bears wouldn’t have looked this bad, even with Engleberg and Lupus running.

A few words about Nelson Mandela, one of world’s greatest leaders. The Jets win on a day of miracle finishes. And Regis sings a duet with an NBA player

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Millions around the world mourned Nelson Mandela’s passing over the weekend, and rarely has one man been so universally loved and admired (Except by the Facebook friends of Sen. Ted Cruz, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

I think of all the reasons Mandela is so wildly praised and admired, the one that has always made him such a hero to me is that after 27 years in prison, he emerged without bitterness or rancor. He was wronged, he had more than 25 percent of his life taken away for no good reason other than that he had dark skin, and yet when he finally emerged in 1990, he spoke of peace and reconciliation. (I found this speech he gave in April, 1990 very moving; it was his first major public appearance after being released)

Could any of us really not be bitter after such a traumatic stay in prison for that long? We’ve seen some wrongly convicted prisoners get out and say they’re free of anger, but it’s rare.

And for Mandela to have such an amazing “second act” as South Africa’s President, and help usher that nation through such turmoil, was amazing to watch.

I truly wonder whether we’ll ever see a man like Nelson Mandela again.

**Next up, it’s not every day you see the ageless Regis Philbin singing a duet with an NBA player.

But ex-Indiana star and current Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who-oh-by-the-way is really good vocally and on the court, decided to harmonize with Reege to the classic “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

I thought it was fabulous.

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**Finally, another insane day in the NFL, with maybe the most surprising thing being not Matt Prater of the Broncos setting a new NFL record with a 64-yard field goal, not there being four touchdowns in the final three minutes of the wild Vikings-Ravens game, and not even the Patriots stealing yet another game they had no business winning.

Nope, the most surprising thing is that the New York Jets scored THIRTY-SEVEN points! That’s right, THIRTY-SEVEN! (cue all of you who love the movie “Clerks” like I do going “Thirty-seven???”)

Yep, all it took was a team more putrid than my Gang Green, a special teams touchdown, and Geno Smith only making two really horrible throws all game, and the Jets won.
Geno was terrific, using his legs and his arm to make several nice plays, throw for one TD and run for another. For once, he didn’t force things.
Of course, the Jets defense was putrid, Ed Reed needs to be put out to pasture, fast (nothing like KO’ing your own teammate while a Raider ran for a TD), and they’re still a longshot for the playoffs.

But for one day, it was nice to see my team score some points.
Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts:

— It’s been said many times before, but man, the Browns really know how to torture their fans. For three quarters they dominated the Pats, and went up 26-14 with a little more than three minutes left. And still lost.

— Never seen a finish quite like Vikings-Ravens, with five lead changes in the final 2:05. I watched it at the bar with my mouth open and jaw on the floor the whole time.
— And did you see the finish of Dolphins-Steelers? With the Dolphins up six, on the last play of the game the Steelers tried one of those crazy lateral plays where nine guys touch the ball, and it ended up in the hands of Antonio Brown, who ran for a touchdown to win the game … except he stepped out of bounds at one point.

— Love it when we get some snow games in the NFL! We had a bunch Sunday, though Lions-Eagles had the worst weather (above). I always feel sorry for the poor fans who sit through that, and the guys in the officiating crew who carry the chains. But it sure is fun watching players slide around in the snow.

— Finally, the 64-yard FG by Prater really was amazing; check it out here.  Kind of amazing that the 63-yard record lasted for four decades.

The boy who loved bacon too much. Starting to get worried about NFL lockout. And Bono does a cool thing for a blind fan

One of my fondest college party memories is being at my friend Brian Hickey’s off-campus house one night, being really drunk, being really hungry, and having Hickey get the brilliant idea to take the three packages of bacon out of his freezer, fry it all up, and give it to us to chow down.
It was the perfect blend of great idea at the right time. Truly, eating that bacon was one of the best food experiences, ever.
I tell you this story to say that I can empathize with the grandson in this case. A 63-year-old Pennsylvania woman was arrested for chasing her 9-year-old grandson around and then pinning him to the ground, and blasting him in the face with water from a garden hose.
The lad’s grievous offense? He apparently ate too much bacon at breakfast that morning.
And so Marilee Kolynych decided to make her grandson pay.
I hope they throw the book at this lady. And make her eat all kinds of Jimmy Dean products while in the pokey.

**I’m officially getting angry and nervous about the NFL lockout (though rumors were flying Wednesday that the sides are close to a deal). All along, I felt confident that the owners were stupid enough to cancel part of the season, and that we wouldn’t have football until October or so.
But now that training camps are a mere few weeks away, my resignation is turning to anger. I worship NFL Sundays like few other things in my life, and I really, really don’t want to miss them this fall (especially now that I’m back in NY and can watch the Jets with my fellow long-suffering Jet fan friends!)

Fortunately, the people of Funny or Die.com have a solution. And as usual, it’s hilarious, as well as a great tribute to my favorite movie of all time:

**A while back I wrote about a very cool gesture done by Paul Simon, inviting a fan up on stage to play and sing her favorite song of his.

Well, U2 and Bono did something equally awesome last weekend. A blind fan named Adam Bevell was at U2’s concert in Nashville and held up a sign saying “Blind guitar player, can I come up?”

And at the end of the show, Bono saw him and brought Bevell on stage. The result was magic. Such a beautiful moment, and it took so little for Bono to make a person’s dream come true:

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