Introduction [read as the stuff you can skip]
There’s this band called U2 – I don’t really know whether you’ve heard about it. They’re going around the world playing songs. They were supposed to come here a few years ago but the lead singer (some dude named Bono) hurt himself (and he’s aged and elderly so took a long time to recover) which delayed the show.
The stage for this “event” was the Qwest arena – home to one of either the baseball/football/<insert-name-of-third-american-sport-which-no-one-else-in-the-world-plays>. The arena (or stadium which is a more accurate moniker) seats 60,000 people.
Amongst us, the conversation outside the arena was most atypical. There was the usual one-upping on who found the most inexpensive parking. There was talk of Alaska and Banff. Much merriment ensued when directions were given to the Hot Dog stand at the southwest gate (there were four of them in the vicinity).
at this point, I realize I seem to have developed an undesirable talent for just rambling on for no reason so lets get down to the meat of this
Its big. It seats 60,000 people. 60,000 is a lot of people. The whole milieu did bring back images of railway stations in India. The incredible number of people all jostling, trying to reach a common goal. That said, there was a lot of order. Illustrating with pictures – the crowd had barely started filling in a half an hour before the opening for the show:
An hitherto unheard of singer, Lenny Kravitz opened for U2. The stadium went berserk. [as an aside – when Bono walked in the word berserk took on a whole new meaning]. There was no “check-123” no “hello-hello-hello”, the dude, heavily inked from shoulder to forearm just stepped up and, to use the vernacular, got jiving.
At the time I was very impressed. Lenny Kravitz sang a bunch of decent songs (none of which I’d heard before). His backup singer aunties were boogying on stage. The drummer dude was seriously rocking it out. There was even a bunch of middle aged aunties shaking their booties
Mr. Kravitz tried to get the crowd going. He paced up and down, round and round asking “get-up y’all”, and “sing it for me”. A whole bunch of people stood up. No one knew what to sing. It was a little disappointing.
Post Lenny Kravitz there was a break. Some cheese-fries were potated. People got impatient. A mexican wave got going. And another. And soon there were two travelling waves at one point. I like Mexican waves – fun fun fun.
The sense of anticipation was building up. U2 entered and walked up the ramp. Their walk was a mix of swagger and panache – seasoned rock-stars who had done this many a times before. If they were perturbed by 60,000 people going aaayaaaaaaa they did not show it.
They launched into the first song without preamble. The atmosphere was electric. The lights were hypnotizing. Adam Clayton was rocking a white shirt that had glitter on it with a red-electric guitar. The Edge looked a little edgy?
The show was an extravaganza. The visuals were amazing. The only explanation for the energy was pure passion. Since, I cannot seem to figure out how to describe this I’ll put a picture.
Bono had the crowd playing to his tunes. Really. And, umm, the crowd – well for a better idea of what 60,000 people look like:
The engineer in me was amazed by the screen. Not only was the screen sharp, the image crisp (you’ve seen the pictures above) it actually came up and down.
U2 then played a slow song. Only an acoustic guitar. No drums. None of the “November-Rain-Slash-Solo” type of music. Sinatra. The lyrics combined with the acoustic guitar were mesmerizing. It was slow and beautiful. 60,000 people in a stadium and it was pin-drop quiet. The applause at the end of that song was deafening.
The concert drew towards its end with whizzes and bangs. The spire at the top of the stage lit up. Red lasers formed intricate patterns all over the stadium. A massive disco ball just added to the electricity in the atmosphere.
A red microphone, suspended on a wire, lit up like the steering wheel of a spaceship was dropped to the center of the stage. Bono donned a jacket with shining red leds on it. It was unbelievable that someone that old could be swinging from a mic like george of the jungle, singing and 60,000 people were cheering, whistling and in the process of generally going berserk.
The penultimate song was “With Or Without You”. The finale was breathtaking. Every floodlight, torch, disco-ball in the stadium was turned off. Cellphone screens lit up the stadium like little balls of light. Tiny fireflies amidst an ocean of orgasmic rock.
PS: This all happened – and while my imagination does run amok from time to time I do solemnly swear that there is little to none exaggeration and an utter lack of the creative mirch-masala that usually adorns my posts.
PPS: all photography done on a windows phone 7. I was most impressed!