guards around the entrance to the heart. We ducked underneath, under
the heart catwalk. RAIL! Theresa smacked herself right next to the
rightmost girl on the rail. I followed. The others came up behind
us. On Adam's side of the stage, there had been a nice stretch of
rail, something the people clumped on the left had either not seen
or had thought of being closer to the Edge or something. It was
gone now. It was such a relief to have our spots at last. It was
amazing how close all the *gear* was. A three foot wide gutter between
the fans and the stage was peopled with security guards. The central
mike wasn't far. He'd be right there. They'd ALL be *right* there!
Except for Larry, stuck in Drumkit Siberia...
We were excited
but we were also tired and it was a long time before lights out
still. People had discussed this out in the line (how bored had
we all been???), and on cue everyone sat down. Sitting there with
my back to the rail looking up at the roof of the Fleet Center,
watching the heart fill up was when I think it finally started to
hit me. I was going to see U2. U2. In the flesh. Had been planning
this for three years, right? Three years was a long time to wait
but here it was.
The guys behind
us were sunburned and tired like everyone else but they were soooo
excited. It was tight foot space. We all had to share. One guy went
off to buy t-shirts and came back a little later with a bag, and
a checkered wristband had joined the single-color one on his wrist.
He asked me if he could put his bag on the shelf behind the rail
in front of me. I put it there for him. I went out of the heart
and then back in just to get a checkered wrist band. I'm a geek!
talking to one of the security guards. His name was David and he's
all over my pictures since he stood in front of us the whole show.
The arena still
had large stretches of empty seats by 730PM. This one guy was handing
out cutouts of a big fish and a little fish on fluorescent paper.
Theresa explained that it was for a song during PJ Harvey's set.
Someone had started it in Albany. Seemed like a good thing to do,
to welcome and show some respect to the woman with the hardest job
in the world. Theresa quickly briefed me on what to do and when.
after 730PM, the lights dimmed. PJ Harvey and her band came out.
The heart cheered. Good for them. I was completely unfamiliar with
her music. Really. I could not name you ANY track of hers at all.
But I cheered along with everyone and she surprised me in that she
ROCKED. Really. I'm not just saying that. I didn't know a single
lyric and I still don't, but she boldly went through her set like
a rock star.
The cue came.
It was during "Down By the Water" that the fishes made
their appearance. It was cool. She wasn't expecting it. She loved
it. At the end of her set, she said something like, "I thank
you from the bottom of my heart." And then she said, "I
like to take some of those fish." I stuck my hand way out with
the cutouts. PJ came over and took Theresa's fish and mine also.
The crowd cheered. She really did seem to be touched by the gesture.
Thanks to those that started it. The guy who had passed the fishes
out (I know his name but remember real names are being witheld here)
had a stuffed animal. A sheep. He had taped small fluorescent fish
to the sheep's front paws. Polly Jean, though realizing how quirky
this was, laughed. She said something about it during her set also...
and she doesn't look like the chatty, gregarious type. It was a
cool set and I think I'm a mild Polly fan now. At least the woman
has my respect and best wishes.
was done, I think we stayed on our feet. Actually, I know we did.
Theresa was still exchanging words with the security guy, Dave.
I watched the stage crew take down the PJ stage set and start setting
up for the big guns. The black tarp that was over Larry's drums
came off. These huge black boxy things that I can't decide if they
were lights or speakers came between us and the band :( The mike
was set up in the very front... Bono... Some of the equipment came
away from where Edge would stand. How cool was this? You have no
idea. The lights had come back on for all this. I think I was clutching
the railing so I wouldn't pass out or something. It was immensely
coming out over the PA. Some of the old soul and R&B classics
I think. Sorry if I don't know the names. I don't listen to any
of that. People around me knew the words, though and they were singing.
The Fleet Center was suddenly full by now. The time pushed onto
9PM. I'm not hard core into the Beatles, but I think I knew which
song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was. "This
is it!" people were saying. Everyone was singing along to something
and clapping. The heart, especially the group in the front and the
middle, was jumping up and down going "Whoo, whoo..."
from Elevation. You could hardly hear the music over the PA. I glued
my eyes to the back of the stage. I wasn't sure where they'd come
from but kept my eyes peeled.
It seemed like
forever (kind of about how long it's taking you to read this story
if you're still with me). The energy was through the roof. The floor
was concrete but it was almost bouncing with all the screaming,
jumping people... and the band wasn't on stage yet! Then, the back
section over towards the left of the stage (left as you face it)
went nuts. They were already pretty exuberant, but this time people
were just about bouncing off their rows and to the one below. I
stood on tip toes. Adam Clayton himself, familiar glasses on, wearing
a pleased smile was coming out of some mysterious, unseen door.
It was amazing. One of the all-time high points in my existence.
with face averted, almost as if he didn't want to be seen. As it
was, I hardly saw him. He slid in behind his drums. The arena was
an explosion of sound by now. Everybody was on to them now. And
then, EDGE. Wearing a red t-shirt and his familiar black knit cap.
He was smiling. By this time, Adam had come over just *feet* away
from where we were. I waved at him and he smiled. He had his bass
on by now, too. To say the noise was deafening would be trite and
far too short of the truth. Everyone was still "Woo"ing,
Edge, Bono was strutting out. I have a picture of him as he comes
to the from of the stage behind a laughing Adam Clayton. He came
out with the persona of a huge rock star, super-cool LV... and our
friend. The crowd lost it. He came to the mike (I LOVE his shoes!),
grabbed it as the PA music faded away and as if they had all received
a telepathic sign to begin, U2 began.
whooo..." EVERYONE sang. Like psychedlic popcorn on caffeine,
the heart was bouncing up and down, arms up, singing. I couldn't
hear the vocals, but there he was just feet away. You could tell
he was singing, the jugular in plain view. He was all over the place.
Right to the tip of the stage, shoes hanging half off the stage.
Hands reached up to try and grab him. Jumping up and down like the
rest of us. Shoving his foot up in the air (you know what I mean...).
In the meantime, all the house lights were ON. It was an incredible,
incredible moment. This was the culmination of a lot of things.
My hair must have been standing on end.
the spectrum of time, it was incredible to think that this guy on
stage acting like the Energizer Bunny was the same guy I'd seen
in Dublin. The voice had been so quiet in Dublin, sweet and raspy.
Here, it was like a light beam, cutting through the fatigue, the
weariness, the materialism,the jaded, bored attitudes of what it
is to live in the world today. He cut through everything and in
a few short minutes, he had the crowd whipped up and kneeling at
his feet. If Bono had said "Jump into the Charles River"
we all would have bolted for the nearest dock.
It was hot
and sweaty in there. It was a light beam of energy. I needed pictures.
I had packed my camera with ISO 800 Kodak film and had an extra
roll in my pocket. The hardest thing I have ever done was changing
film in the middle of a rock show. Hardest because I needed to tear
my eyes away from him so I could load the film. The man is so completely
magnetic, that looking away and staying still in the hysterical
crowd to set and point and shoot was sooo sooo difficult.
Trying to describe
this song for song is impossible. Nor can I remember which song
came after which. (I don't have the boot yet.) But I do remember
some small details that stand out like sharp pieces of glass in
the sand. I remember when Bono had been out on the heart and he
was coming back on stage over by our side of the heart. He took
his time coming back and was standing there on the walkway above
our heads with the lights shining on him like the Rock God himself.
And I remember
"Gone". All of it. It was amazing, like all the techno
fluff removed and finally being able to shine out for the first
time. All those many colored lights and Bono with his guitar, singing
from the bottom of his *soul*.
And the biggest
moment of all if I had to pick one. Bono with the glasses still
on going up to the mike and *screaming* out, "GET OUT OF CONTROL!"
The crowd, already delirious, lost it. They knew every word. This
was an old song, from the 70's and everyone seemed to know the words.
I was in a crowd of die hard fans. And Bono lost it, too. I think
for a minute there, he had to clutch at the mike stand to keep himself
on his feet. I couldn't hear him sing, it was so loud in there.
Edge got a little grin on his face before he started playing the
song, as if to say, "You guys are going to love this."
And we did. And I couldn't believe my ears. The song meant so much.
He'd written it when he was 18... and now at 41, you had to wonder
how the meaning, the relevance had changed for him. There were plenty
of 18-year-olds in the crowd.
Ways" was sweet and sexy and groovy as always. My favorite
live song when I was still the CD boot only set remained a hit in
my mind as I stood there on a concrete floor watching these four
Irish guys weave the same web. The shining tendrils of light and
sound cast their spell over all upturned faces. They had a silhouetted
dancer image on the screens behind Larry. Bono disappeared into
the back of the stage for a minute there. Since the front of the
stage was covered up with those black boxy things, I couldn't see
what he was up to. But there was a roar from the crowd.
set at the tip was phenomenal even if I couldn't see anything. Bono
said something like, "This was always about the bassist."
He and Edge then started into a familiar tune... familiar only on
CD, rarely played live- "Party Girl". Oh, YES!
during "New York"... The pinwheeling lights during "Kite"...
the bass thudding right into me... clapping in rhythm during "Desire"...
"Bad" cut to the very soul of what it is just to BE in
the MOMENT. Speaking of moments, "Stuck" was transcendant.
reigned during "Where the Streets Have No Name." I peeked
around me when all the lights went on, and it looked like I was
in the pinnacle of the universe, in the midst of humanity, and every
person in the whole world was there, standing there screaming with
their arms above their heads. The lights were especially amazing
during that song. Bono ran around like a sprite. Geez, that boy
I didn't recognize
"The Fly" at first. It was a bare-fisted, soul-baring
rendition of itself. Bono slamming himself into the video screens
like "a fly on the wall" was hilarious. He's a rock star.
Then, I saw
him take a light from one of the stage hands. The screens became
alive with a video of body bags, children holding guns, and then
Charlton Heston saying that his motto was there are no bad guns,
there are no good guns... Then, the band launched into "Bullet".
It was the most frightening version of "Bullet" I have
ever heard. Bono was on the ramp, Edge's side on the heart. Swinging
his spotlight around, shining it into the stands, the upper balconies.
I noticed the words were different. He said something about Lennon.
"America at war with itself..." All the headlines we've
all seem came flashing back. Then, he started swinging the lamp
and *screaming* out the name no one says... Mark Chapman, Mark Chapman.
At the time, I didn't know what he was saying, but the WAY he screamed
that out, as if trying to frighten away lingering ghosts gave me
goosebumps, gave me the shivers, frightened me. It's the eeriest
thing I've ever heard. It's one of the more disturbing bits. See
a lyric sheet of what he said that night in the Reviews
or Without You" seemed like an old friend you're so glad to
see even if you know them so well. His voice sounded sweet and soft.
The lights were blue like starlight.
And then came
"One". Bono took a guitar, thanked Boston for the great
week. For the fans he had had the fortune to meet outside the band's
hotel (who else calls people that stalk you a pleasure to meet???).
He said they didn't have plans totally straightened out for the
fall yet and didn't know if they'd be back or not, but thanks for
this week. Boston had been stuck in a U2 moment the whole week.
I don't need to say the song was as beautiful as ever.
On"... I knew it was the last song. It was sad, but at the
same time, I don't know how much more I could have taken. The girl
next to me reached over to someone behind her for a bottle of bubbles
from someone else. She started blowing them. Bono saw them and immediately
came over. She reached over the railing with the bottle. The security
guard held it up for Bono as he blew little bubbles of his own.
My camera was taking shot after shot after shot. He was two feet
away from me. I just held the shutter button down and let the overworked
little thing do what it could. I must say though my camera was overmatched
for all these concerts, it behaved like a champ within its limits.
the way through the song, this big guy started running onto the
stage. Bono didn't see him right away (it was so loud in there that
it was impossible to hear it). Adam got out of the way as security
just about tackled the guy. This happened right in front of me.
It was alarming. I mean, Bono's so tiny. Security was being rough.
Bono saw them. In a moment, he had left his mike and was over to
the right of the stage. I have never seen a human being move so
fast. The bad kept playing without the vocalist as the drama unfolded
over on Adam's side of the stage.
away one of the security guards who was coming up from the pit to
help the others restrain the guy. Another one of the security guys
who was on stage got shoved. Bono raised a fist at the last guy
and the word f*** came flying out in the middle of several others.
His face was all red. He looked *pissed* off. So it's true. The
man has a hot temper. I still had film but I didn't take pictures
even if I could have gotten some great ones. I was just sooo shocked
that it was happening. It was scary.
off since the boss was gonna beat them to death if they didn't.
The guy and Bono went center stage as the Fleet Center again reached
another summit of noise (the place was noisy the whole time). Bono
hugged the guy. He held his arm up. Bono looked like a little leprechaun
next to the guy. Then, the weirdest thing happened. Even weirder
than the whole fight thing. The guy picked Bono up and swung him
around. It was SOOOOO surreal. I don't know. It was surreal, surreal
stuff. Then, Bono pointed out to the heart ramps. The guy started
taking a slow lap around it as our favorite singer finished up on
"Walk On". Leave it behind... Just leave it all behind...
It felt right. It felt like the end. Geez, I wish I could hug him.
The guy finished
his lap and left the stage to cheers. U2 waved. Larry came out from
behind his drum kit and waved for a split second. Adam had a tech
light him a cigar. He waved also. Bono said his goodnights. The
crowd was soooo soooo loud. We were so grateful. That was it. That
was the end of Boston. Onto Philly...
from the PA faded away and the lights came on. Theresa got a set
list from Dave the security guard. They were supposed to play "I
Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" but played "Stay"
instead. Security was trying to throw us out. They needed to pack
the heart away and head for Philly. We were among the last ones
out of the heart.
of the Fleet Center was aweful. The place is an engineering accident
waiting to happen. It was packed with sweaty, happy people making
their way down the stairs. "The best yet" people were
saying, "The best yet." And I had seen it and it had been
my first show. Amazing. I was in shock. I couldn't think. I couldn't
talk. I was in AWE. I was trying to keep my poor shattered mind
from forgetting things. My ears felt like they were stuffed with
I went back to the car. It was a very full parking lot. I think
we got away with paying a lot less than we owed. We had been there
for almost 24 hours but they only charged us $17. We were riding
high. People were blasting ATYCLB from their stereos. The streets
were jammed. We didn't know where we were going. A guy in a van
next to us said something about the list of shows Theresa had on
her car. "Cool!!!" They were from Arizona, come to see
We got lost
on our way to the hotel. It was night. I'm not overly familiar with
the city and we were tired and excited and beat and whipped and
dehydrated etc. But finally found it without too much trouble. I
wonder how we looked to the front desk receptionist. I had called
earlier in the day to let them know we would be getting there after
midnight. We got our key and our room was nice. BEDS!!!
I made a beeline
for the shower. By the time I got out, Theresa was already asleep
with the TV on. I shut it off and shut off the lights and tucked
myself into bed (oooooh, soft!) and finally slept with the sound
of an Irish angel singing in my head.
It was an amazing
experience. Standing there against the rail was literally the most
liberated and free I've ever felt. Like family but without the things
that tie you down. Leave it behind... They drove the point home.
Thank you, THANK YOU, U2. You're all angels.
Now, on to