About a week ago, I got an e-mail from a colleague of mine here at Blogcritics offering me his tickets to U2's upcoming June show in Seattle at Qwest Field. As in free, no strings attached...
To say I was absolutely thrilled at this quite unexpected turn of good fortune would be something close to the understatement of the year.
U2 is a band that I love passionately, and as far as big stadium extravaganzas go, they put on a show like nobody else out there. One thing is absolutely for sure though — they have certainly come a long way from the band I saw in 1983 at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, or even the band I saw at California's US Festival the very next day (I was already on a plane to L.A. before U2 had played their second encore in Seattle).
What I remember most about those back-to-back shows I caught on the 1983 War tour was that, much like Bruce Springsteen in the early days, this was a band that was all about making an intimate connection with its audience — and that they succeeded at this (rather wildly I might add) — beyond all reasonable expectation.
In the confines of Seattle's 3000-seat Paramount Theatre, this was most demonstrated when Bono allowed the crowd to carry him on his back, long before anyone had ever heard of anything like moshing or crowd surfing.
At the US Festival, playing before 300,000 people in a God-forsaken dust bowl desert setting in the middle of what I remember as a scorching hot day, what stands out is Bono's death-defying climb to the top of a stage that was several stories high (at least) to hoist the white flag of surrender during "Electric Co."
It was one of those awesome concert moments you quite simply never forget.
But that one will forever stand out in my memory. I've never seen a rock performer, not before or since, literally risk his life to deliver whatever his message might have been — which I might add that despite the heroics involved, is one that I am still quite sure was mostly lost on the largely stoned, dehydrated masses that day in the freaking, absolutely scorching desert.