Some Thoughts On Seeing U2

Monday, July 3, 2017


I can only assume the entire planet is aware of U2's existence, but if that's not the case, they're the four Irish rockers (who still have it going on, might I just say) that sang your favorite song to cry to in the 90s when Friends was on, "With or Without You." Granted, this song came out in 1987 when The Joshua Tree first released, but that's not all that important right now. Well, actually, it kind of is.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of The Joshua Tree, the album that shot them to super stardom back in '87. I've been dying to buy my mom tickets to see U2 since I stated making my own money but I've struck out in the past. I finally scored a pair of GA tickets for Cleveland, the last official night of the United States leg of the tour on July 1st (they've added some dates for September, I believe). I don't know many songs by U2, but it didn't really matter at all in the long run.


I've seen a lot of concerts over the year. I was lucky enough to go to a lot as a kid and spent all of my babysitting and birthday money in my teenage years on concert tickets. They're some of my favorite things to do with my time and money. I've seen small alternative bands in clubs, current bands in arenas (and even One Direction at First Energy Stadium back in 2015), even bands like Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Money. There was something different about U2 that I cannot put my finger on. I don't think I'm lying when I say it was the best show that I have ever been to in my 21 years on this earth.


I think there's something to say when a show is not only audibly pleasing, but also visually. Instead of having two massive screens that play the concert on them like a typical point-and-shoot view, each song had its own unique display. The screen stretched across the entire stage, akin to an extended movie theater screen. It played plain old footage, like a long stretch of road where it felt like you were sitting on the back of a flatbed truck filming away during Where the Streets Have No Name, to trippy shape-shifting during Vertigo, and of course, the sometimes subtle (but most of the time not subtle) political messages that U2 is famous for. They took all of the makings of a typical concert and elevated them.

What was most interesting to me were the people around me. I've really only gone to concerts with people around my age. I saw Bruce Springsteen once, but I saw sitting in not-so-great seats and I don't think it was sold out like U2 sold out First Energy. I guess I saw Eddie Money on Friday, but I was up front and didn't have a lot of people around me. But being on the floor of the U2 show, I was surrounded overwhelmingly by adults my mom's age or older.

I spent a lot of time watching them in the least weird way possible, or at least I'd like to think so. I just found it really entertaining to watch these grown adults turn into teenagers again. My mom was 20 years old when she first saw U2 on their original tour for The Joshua Tree (sorry for aging you, mom). Everyone around me seemed to spend the two hour set just legitimately enjoying themselves, ages be damned. They jumped around, pumped their fists, screamed at the top of their lungs, hugged (there was lots of hugging), and chugged their beers. It was cute, really, seeing people so excited about their favorite band.

At one point, I wondered if this is what I looked like as an outsider to people when they see me at concerts for my favorite bands. I wasn't even the slightest bit mortified. Everyone looks a little bit silly when they're having the time of their lives, but watching everyone on Saturday night was really just looking out at a sea of people who were just happy and having a good time. I hope that I'm still rocking out to my favorite band nearly forty years after they hit the scene.

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