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Grand Finale in Boston

The show: Last night in Boston
The date: June 9, 2001

This was my first show... my first U2 show ever. It's difficult to go over its merits without becoming too emotionally involved with the details. But here it goes...

First show or 22nd show, one and all agreed that this was an incredible concert. The DJs on the radio named it the best U2 has ever played in Boston. Personally, I don't like to start using the language of "bests" and "worsts" that is so one-dimensional and doesn't do justice to anything, let alone a U2 concert. But it is undisputed that this show had incredible energy from the band and the crowd was unbelievable.

U2 played tight yet loose. Displaying the kind of dominion over their instruments, their music, and the show that only comes from years of touring and undeniable skill. Yet, they all seemed to be having fun. Adam Clayton was all smiles. Larry Mullen even graced us with a grin. The Edge was as always focused and intense yet a few smiles escaped from him also. Bono was the fireplug and though he didn't invite anyone up on stage, he made the connection that he was not only the world's greatest rock star but also everyone's friend. No one else can do that. They played like the best band in the universe... and they knew it.

The crowd... the audience deserves a special paragraph all to themselves. Though U2 is good every night (the reputation they enjoy doesn't come without a reason), when the audience gets involved, it makes a wonderful concert legendary. That's what happened with Boston 4. The crowd in the Fleet Center that night was quite honestly the loudest crowd I have ever heard, the most involved I have ever seen. And I've been to NBA playoff games, seen Springsteen from the first row... and this crowd beat all those other crowds. The heart seemed to know every word to every song. They sang the whole time. The intro "Sgt. Pepper's" was all but drowned out as people were "Hoo-whoo"ing in preparation for the opener "Elevation". During the actual song, Bono's vocals were all but shut out. The folks in the stands were on their feet almost the whole time. And this is the clincher... a large part of the crowd recognized "Out of Control". 'Nuff said. Many people had been there the whole week. Though fatigued, the crowd was a champ... an entity all to itself. Their participation and enthusiasm made Boston 4 a legend. People will talk about this show for a long time to come.

P.J. Harvey's set was emotional, loud and magnetic. She rocked as few know how to rock in this era of rap/ hip-hop and teen bubble pop. She rocked better, stronger than many others out there who dare to call themselves "rock" bands. The crowd response was almost adequate. The fish cutouts made their first appearance and Polly Jean appreciated the gesture. Boston deserved her hard work that night. It was about time the crowd respond to the woman with the most difficult job in the world.

U2 hit the ground running with an "Elevation" whose vocals were difficult to hear amid the crowd's response. Bono delivered the goods though no one could hear him. Just having U2 there seemed to be enough for the crowd. Charismatic and endearing, Bono had everyone in his pocket the moment he hit the stage.

They didn't look back from there. Instead of "Beautiful Day" as the follower to "Elevation", the band tore into "Pride ITNOL". From that moment on, everyone who hadn't figured it out already knew it was a special night. Except for people like me of course who were so blown away, their brains couldn't register that playing "Pride" so early in the set was a major shakeup in the setlist. People like me whose night would be just as amazing if they had played "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and like ditties all night long. People like me who weren't expecting anything from the band, just enjoying LOVING what they were playing, just happy to have them there in real sweaty life. Who didn't have hopes for songs that they might or might not hear and so might or might not be disappointed. But I digress...

At one point, Bono said something like, "Maybe next time we'll make a jazz album." At some scattered cheers, he said, "Polka?" People cheered. They would have cheered if he had been speaking in Cornish and so unintelligible to everyone in the audience. They would have cheered if he had been speaking in the language of orca whales. They didn't care. They just wanted him there. He thanked Boston several times for the wonderful week, for the people he had had the honor to meet outside his hotel (the first person to be honored by stalkers).

"Gone" was an eye-opening experience. For those who hadn't heard it since PopMart, "Gone" shown with a new inner light that displayed facets to the song never seen before. It was glorious with the band bathed in intensely different-colored lights and Bono playing guitar as if he were a mini-Edge.

Probably the single most exciting moment in the concert if I had to pick one was when Bono, glasses still covering his eyes screamed into the mike, "Boston, are you out of control?!" The already delirious audience roared even louder. I swear the roof of the Fleet Center creaked in its resting place. The foundations shook in their shoes. Edge got a smirk on his face as if to say, "You're really going to enjoy this" as he ripped into the guitar for "Out of Control". Bono seemed to be loving the song as much as his crowd. He went just as crazy as them. Everyone sang along. I couldn't hear him sing. I could just see him, thrashing around the stand for the mike, barely able to keep himself on stage, flushed red. Hysteria.

It was one wild ride from there on out. As if riding the roller coaster but never coming down the other side of the hill.

During the acoustic set on the tip, "Party Girl" made its first appearance in years with Bono saying it was a song that had always been "about the bassist". Audience loved it. Just Bono and Edge playing a song as if they were street performers, a song born in the 70's from Dublin teenagers' heads.

"Bad" was incredible. I just about cried. Maybe I would have if I wasn't so dehydrated. The lights. Seeing Edge toiling up on stage,singing through his guitar. Bono on the heart plugging into his heart to make it all sound so true. He added a snippet of an Elvis Costello song at the end of it

As the encore started, Edge came on stage with Ray Borque's jersey on. It looked huge on him, but the crowd loved him for it. Ray Borque used to play Boston's pro hockey team, from what I understand.

"Bullet the Blue Sky" opened with the anti-violence, anti-guns message on the screens. The well-practiced, mutiple venue, multiple show people thought they knew what to expect. The strongest frontman in the business threw us all a curve ball and sang out the most frightening version of that song I have ever heard on ANY boot or ANY video. Maybe sang wasn't the right word. It was a scream. The whole song was like one long, tortured, demented scream. Swinging his lamp around, standing midway between the stage and the tip on Edge's side of the heart, it was like he was trying to dispel the demons hiding in the shadows and inside hearts and minds. If I were a ghost, he would have had me halfway across the Atlantic with this. Here are the words:

This guy comes up to me, see
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush
Like all the colors of a royal flush
And he's peeling off those dollar bills
Slapping them down right there in Kmart
Right there in Walmart
One hundred, two hundred, threeee hundred

that's all, that's all...
And I can feel the cold steel
And I can feel the cold steel
and I can make a wound that won't heal
38 mm like the police
I'm at the door with John and Yoko (?) making love and peace
38 mm like the police
I'm at the door with John and yoko (?) making love and peace

love and peace
love and peace
i feel like an old shoe
a re-release
soon to be deceased

pull the trigger!
rock-n-roll nigger!
it's getting bigger than Jesus on a bumper sticker!
pull the trigger!
rock-n-roll nigger!
bigger than Jesus on a bumper sticker!

my eyes are chasin'
my eyes are chasin'
for an autograph I've come and I've been waiting
something savin ?
there's no escaping
cause I'm ?

War is over we dont need your help
America is at war with itself
War is over we dont need your help
America is at war with itself
Drums!
Six hundred and seventy-six will go down
In the streets of America
With a bullet
In the next
Twenty years
Twenty years
In the business of bitter tears
More body bags
Than Vietnam
Whats my name?
mark chapman
Whats my name?
mark chapman

who's that man
mark chapman
who's that man
mark chapman
mark chapman
mark chapman
mark chapman
mark chapman

[no guitars]
we run...into the arms
of America

(Thank you to Carrie for the transcript... Some of the question marks may be where she wasn't sure of the words.)

My hair was just about standing on end and I doubt I was the only one.

WOWY was as usual well-received. It was my first time hearing it live and it felt so familiar. Standing in that arena with thousands of people with the soft blue lights on and hearing that made the Fleet Center feel like a cathedral that night. I could see Bono out on the heart from over the tops of everyone's heads. He hit the "whooooo"s at the end of it beautifully.

The first riffs of "Walk On" filled the arena after a lovely "One". Anyone who had read any of the setlists from earlier in the show knew this was the last song. Near the end, a fan came running up onto the right side of the stage towards the stage. Adam Clayton quickly made himself scarce as security roughly brought the fan down . The arena was so loud, I couldn't hear anything if anything was being shouted. Bono didn't notice at first. He was looking off to the left of the stage, strumming his guitar and getting set to end the song. But the scuffle couldn't go unnoticed for long as the crowd had tuned in and all eyes were flying to the right of the stage.

The fan reached out to Bono, wordlessly asking for his help. The singer stripped himself of his guitar and chucked it at a stage hand. He covered the distance between the center of the stage and the right corner in a fraction of a second. He pushed off one security guard and then another. He shouted something, but with the din of the screaming crowd and Edge's lead guitar, I didn't hear what he said. One security guard or two persisted in forcibly removing the fan. Bono pulled an arm back, hand all fisted up. He was livid. Security let the fan go and the man got up and went with Bono to the center of the stage. The crowd was ecstatic. It was like a victory for fans everywhere. The fan picked Bono up and swung him around (he towered over the little frontman by a good four to six inches). Then, the fan took a lap around the heart and disappeared into the crowd once more as Bono and U2 finished up the show.

The newspapers the next morning thought the fan wasa plant and the whole incident could have been a set up. This is not true. The fan has written his story out, complete with photographs. Read it and decide for yourself. Click here to read Diamond's story of Boston 4.

"Grace" came over the PA and the audience began the long way back out of the Fleet Center. They were drained but shell shocked. Everyone agreed this had been a fantastic show. A show that will go down as one legendary night in the American Northeast, the culmination of one magical week in Boston, Massachusetts.

Boston 4 Setlist:

Elevation, Pride, Until the End of the World, The Fly, Even Better Than the Real Thing, Mysterious Ways, In My Life/Stuck In A Moment, Kite, Gone, New York, Out of Control, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Desire, Party Girl, Stay, Bad, Where the Streets Have No Name, Beautiful Day

Encore(s): Bullet the Blue Sky, With or Without You, One/She's a Mystery To Me, Walk On

 

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