Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Music Month: Live and In Person

The organized church and I had a parting of the ways a decade ago or so over something stupid. Me, probably. I can count on one hand the number of times I've set foot in a house of worship over that span.

In a great many ways then, a U2 concert is as close as I get to church. There's the charismatic preacher man, with Bono metaphorically (and often, as last night at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, literally) sermonizing. And the choir, both onstage and in the seats. Finally, there's the fellowship - 90,000+ who left the building with smiles on their faces, at least until they got into their cars to try to go home. Knowing what I know of U2, the spiritual echoes in their performances are not coincidental.

As for last night's show, I'll forgo a lot of details because at least one of us plans to be in attendance at the band's next tour stop. Suffice it to say that U2 are the world's biggest band for a reason - they're a professional rock and roll outfit, right down to an impeccable sound system that made FedEx Field feel like a very loud recording studio and a massive spaceship/crab-inspired stage complex (so over-the-top that its' rumored price tag runs to $40 million). After an indifferent start that featured a pair of songs from their new album, No Line on the Horizon, the remainder of the set careened across their full catalog (and I do mean full - U2 went into deep cut Miss Sarajevo territory more than once) and mixed full-on stadium-rocking anthems with the best of the band's down-tempo offerings.

Bono kept his politics bipartisan, if not quiet, riffing on Iran, Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi, AIDS, and climate change while praising everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Bill Frist to President George W. Bush to Pat Leahy. And in keeping with the tent revival feel of the evening, he even tossed off a raspy, quiet version of Amazing Grace.

Me and the church aren't likely to get back together anytime soon, but while U2 keeps touring, I'll have a place to commune with my fellow travelers. As long as they don't come back to FedEx Field - as usual, Shlara was right. It took us 90 minutes to travel the 300 yards between our parking space and the exit and a total of nearly two and a half hours to get home to our country estate. Add one more thing to the lengthy list of Dan Snyder's failures. But even Little Danny Starfucker wasn't enough to make the evening disappointing. Such is the immense power of U2.


rob said...

getting this out of the way to clear the decks for the massive influx of content that's forthcoming.

Shlara said...

I'm sad I missed the show, but not regretting missing the traffic. U2 is one of the all time greatest rock bands, and they a masters of the live show--they know how to give the fans what they want to hear. The best opening of any concert I've ever attended was the U2 Joshua Tree show in 1987 in RFK--Where the Streets Have No Name--it's still very clear in my mind, and that was AGES ago. Lord, I'm old...

And, I'm going to have to settle for the abbreviated U2 experience in 2009--the Lincoln Memorial concert for Inauguration and a Bono sighting at the conference I attended in NYC last week. He didn't sing, but he's still got the rock star aura when he's giving a speech.