It’s hard to imagine anything more uplifting and soul-shaking than a humanitarian-rockstar, but when you add 30 years of longevity, (and a voice that is just too legit to quit), evolving hearts full of passion for current events, education, and peace… yeah. Okay. Breeeeathe. It is no wonder the Oakland Coliseum became a Mecca for U2 360° tour lovers, literally a musical pilgrimage, many (including myself) waiting hours on the 880 freeway just to get into the parking lot. Side note: If you live in the Bay Area and plan on going to a gigantic show like U2 at the Coliseum, take BART! Please, I beg of you, learn my lesson!
That being said, and I say this as a means to explain just how huge this concert was, I left my apartment door in San Francisco at 6:30pm and stepped into the Coliseum at 8:45pm. An otherwise 25 minute trip took me over two hours, and to add to the pure pain that is missing Lenny Kravitz entirely, the parking lot attendants seemed to have given up early, their fluorescent jackets crowded around the lot’s local taco truck. I took that as a sign it was okay to park on the pile of orange traffic cones. Alas, once one enters the not-so-pearly gates of the Oakland Coliseum it is like stepping into an ant farm. There are people EVERYWHERE, a ladies line for the bathroom three blocks long, and $10 beers to boot. This is the price one pays for a U2 concert, and I tell you I’d pay for the commotion, willingly, again and again, because when the lights go down, and “Ground control to major Tom…” starts playing with a bass that shakes your socks off… there is this band called U2.
“We love it here, Oakland, San Francisco, you’ve got a lot of everything. You guys invented the 21st century, didn’t you?” says Bono as he tries to catch his breath, pacing the circular gargantuan creature that makes up the “360” stage, after beautiful and energetic renditions of “I Will Follow,” and “Mysterious Ways.” Perhaps it was the reverb, or the cool outdoor stadium breeze, but the song’s chords sounded different, yet with a lover-ly familiar core. The audience ranged from 12-85 (+) years old, all enjoying themselves to eternity. As for me, I hung out in the seated area with our Thrillcall contest winner, Mia, while many others braved the pit to squash into the general admission area with thousands of other waving hands and bobbing heads. From above, the expansive sea of neon green, pink, and blue faces swaying to songs about love and acceptance, world events, and social justice movements was truly breathtaking, (and made me feel evermore appreciative for my job in the music industry).
The U2 website featured close coverage of last night’s show, highlighting some great quotes and important events, most interestingly that there was a recent alcohol-induced concert tour planned by the U2 men themselves. “An already top-of-the-range decibel [of cheers] reading now goes completely off the scale. ‘And the music is still potent,’ he [Bono] continues. ‘The ideas are still coming. Don’t know if you noticed, but there was a major summit over the Bridge last night, they’re calling it the G3 Summit – U2, Greenday and Metallica. In bars.’ This response is universally acclaimed and Bono turns to the subject of Lou Reed, who is in the house tonight, at which point Larry breaks into a chorus of ‘Perfect Day’… and Oakland goes ballistic” (U2.com).
My favorite moment of the evening occurred during the latter half, when U2’s rendition of “Pride” basked the entire stadium in a fiberoptic, fog of red glowing goodness. For some reason that song just got to me above all the others. Meanwhile my cohort that I had brought along was busy drooling over The Edge’s countless guitar switches and complicated riffs. Finally, in case you want to know some other stand-out moments (Warning: Spoiler Alert), I now present…
Top U2 Moments according to Cherilyn of Thrillcall:
1. When Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of wounded U.S. Representative Gabriella Giffords, literally says ‘hello from space’ to Oakland with word cut-outs to “Beautiful Day,” while singing parts of the lyrics, and a final sign-off from “Space Oddity,” …”Tell my wife I love her very much. … She knows.”
2. Standing, dancing and singing throughout the whole concert and drinking hot chocolate. You know why that’s cool? Because who drinks hot chocolate at a concert?
3. When the electronic screen stretched down to cover the band and you couldn’t see any of them, while “The Less You Know, The More You See” flashed across the stage as you started and stopped seeing them through the strobing lights.
(photos from U2.com)