Tag Archives: U2

The great Roger Federer leaves me in awe again, and three cheers for Caroline Wozniacki, finally a Slam winner. And my annual Grammy thoughts from a has-been music fan

For 99 percent of professional tennis players, winning a Grand Slam title is the absolute pinnacle of their careers. So many thousands of hours of practice, sweat and tears, so many close calls and near-misses, so many injuries they’ve fought through and bad luck they’ve endured, and then one day, miraculously, they’re the last player standing, they’re holding the trophy and it’s all been worth it.

Ninety-nine percent of tennis players would kill to experience winning one Grand Slam.

Roger Federer has now won 20. And that is mind-boggling.

I know, I know, that’s very simplistic to put it like that, but it’s just one way of thinking about how amazing this 36-year-old Swiss master is. Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, he won yet another Slam title, beating Marin Cilic in five sets to win the Australian Open.

The man defies description. He goes five years between Grand Slam titles, and looks for all the world to be a man on his way out of the sport. People are calling for Federer to retire, to ride off into the sunset, all that jazz. Mind you, he was STILL in the Top 10 in the world, still playing deep into majors. But he was no longer the dominant, best-of-all-time force he once was, and so he must be told to quit.

Then, amazingly, after a six-month injury absence, he comes to Australia a year ago and wins. Then wins Wimbledon. And now wins another Aussie Open. And still gets so emotional at winning that this is his reaction in the on-court speech immediately following.

He is class personified, and I’m thrilled that he’s back on top. Twenty major titles. Just amazing.

Also a quick shout-out to Caroline Wozniacki, a fantastic player who for almost 10 years has chased a Grand Slam title that eluded her. Her career looked to be on the downswing a few years ago, but she kept fighting and finally this weekend won her first major title. Wozniacki has always struck me as a class act, always gracious in defeat and a kind person off the court. Very happy to see her finally get her moment.

*Finally today, Sunday night was, of course the Grammys, and as usual I had heard very little of the music that was performed and awarded. But as always, that doesn’t stop me from having opinions. I must admit up front I didn’t have time to watch the whole show, but skipped around.

— Kendrick Lamar, I only watch you once a year, because I’m still stuck in the 1980s, musically. But damn, you are a pretty kick-ass performer.

— Very nice and touching performance by four country music artists with their rendition of “Tears in Heaven” to honor those who died in the Las Vegas shooting massacre. Glad that was honored and talked about.

— U2’s performance was, of course, amazing, with the Statue of Liberty in the background and a song “Get Out of Your Own Way” that fits the times.

— Ke$ha and Cyndi Lauper and Co. were also fantastic. Lot of great live performances at the Grammys this year.

— Pink is amazing, which I have said on this blog many, many times. Whether she’s dangling off the side of a building and singing like she did last year, nor simply standing on stage and belting out one hell of a song like she did Sunday night, that woman is truly sensational. So pumped to see her again on her current tour; the wife and I got tickets to an April show in New York. She is so incredible.

— Logic, another musician I did not know, did a powerful performance of a song written to make a suicide-prevention hotline phone number more visible.  Also enjoyed him telling people from all over the world that ‘you are not from shithole countries,” though it’s sad CBS bleeped it out.

— Miley Cyrus and Elton John doing “Tiny Dancer” was sensational; with all of her ridiculous behavior you forget just how incredible a talent Miley is. But she was fabulous here.

— Am I the only one who didn’t know there was still a “Best Comedy Album” Grammy? Man did they play that up a lot during the show; who really cares about comedy at the Grammys?

— That James Corden, Sting and Shaggy sketch on the New York City subways. Groan, groan, groan. Just bad.

— Finally, I don’t know who Logic is, but that was a pretty fantastic little speech he gave at the end of his performance. Proud to see so many artists speak up about the atrocities this President and his allies are committing.

 

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

u2-in-the-screen

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.

Game 7 tonight, the best words in sports. Jimmy Fallon and U2 have a surprise concert in the subway station. And a drunk man chases a bear through the woods.

Game 7.
If you’re a sports nut like me, I don’t have to say anymore. I’ll watch a Game 7 of anything; badminton, tiddlywinks, hockey, basketball … it’s right up there among the biggest thrills in sports, watching two teams who’ve battled for two weeks playing one final deciding game.

And tonight, my favorite sports team of all plays in yet another Game 7. Rangers-Capitals, Stanley Cup Playoffs, at MSG. Winner goes on, loser goes home.

It’s so random when you think about the idea of a Game 7; somewhere along the line, many moons ago, somebody in sports decided a best-of-seven format was the best way to decide a playoff series.
Not too short as to allow for flukes (like best-of-3 and best-of-5’s often do), but not interminable like a best of nine or 11. I don’t know if seven just feels like a good number because that’s what we’ve all been conditioned to accept, or if it actually is the perfect length.

Anyway, Game 7. Tonight. Rangers-Capitals. I’ll be pacing, sweating, cursing and shouting for most of three hours (thank God my little baby’s a good sleeper). I saw this awesome graphic Tuesday of a Rangers fan charting his heart rate during Game 6; I’m glad I won’t be doing that, or my wife would call an ambulance during what’s sure to be a nail-biting 3rd period (can you get wifi in an NYC ambulance these days? Asking for a friend.)

For a guy who’s team was less than two minutes from elimination and playing golf for the summer last Friday, I’m quite confident. Henrik Lundqvist is money in 7th games, winning his last five. The Caps have blown a 3-1 series lead four times before, this Rangers team always seems to find a way,  and Alex Ovechkin hasn’t scored since Game 2.

Let’s Go Rangers. I’ll be nervous all day until 7:30. I love it.

Next up, this is another awesome Jimmy Fallon sketch. Several years ago, the talented Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten won a Pulitzer Prize for a story in which he got a world-famous violinist, Joshua Bell, to play inside a D.C. metro station, and showed how absolutely no one paid attention. It was an incredible story (check it out here), basically proving the point that people often miss real beauty in their hustle and bustle to get where they’re going.

The Fallon sketch is similar; he got Bono and the rest of U2 to come to a NYC subway station and play their own world-famous music while in disguise.

It’s hilarious to see people walk right by Bono singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and not know it.

DavyCrockett.bearhunt

**Finally, my good friend Will sends me “News of the Weird” stories all the time, and I always enjoy them but often forget to blog about them.
This one, thought, I had to share.

Allow me to just re-copy the headline from this CBS News story from Albany, N.Y.: “Police: Drunk man taken into custody after chasing bear with hatchet.”

I mean come on, is there ANY way you’re not reading the rest of that story?

Apparently in North Adams, Mass., a citizen named Bradley Carpenter, concerned about bears (and really, aren’t we all concerned?) actually went after a bear with a hatchet, but sadly did not catch it.

“We certainly don’t need anyone going all Davy Crockett chasing it through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet,” the police said after the man was apprehended. “We are still trying to figure out what his end game was.”

His end game? Clearly, he was on a bear hunt and he wanted him some bear meat!
What I wouldn’t pay for video of this…

 

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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