It's all right, it's all right, it's! All right!
I am a huge U2 fan. I am well aware that U2 is overexposed, overpopular, and not intellectual or deep enough (I defy anyone who says they take themselves too seriously, though. Watch PopMart Mexico City. Or ZooTV Sydney). They have been my favorite band since pre-Achtung days and unless something incredibly bizarre happens, they will remain my favorite band for a long time. If you are reading this, you already know that. What you may not know is that from time to time I forget how much I enjoy U2. One of my favorite things is reminding myself of that.
I've been having a sort of crappy few weeks. Things have just been going wrong and piling on themselves and each other, which is really incredibly frustrating. Yesterday things came to a peak of bad and I had something of a meltdown, involving calling my mother sobbing while in a freezing, non-functional car. When I eventually got home (thanks, strange old guy with no teeth smelling faintly of marijuana!), I futzed around for a while, made myself a fruit salad and sat on the floor in front of my DVDs.
Me: What should I watch? What will help improve my mood?
DVD shelf: How about this?
Me: No Country for Old Men? You are not serious.
DVD shelf: Mmmkay, what about this?
Me: Apocalypse Now? You really don't understand what I'm looking for right now, do you?
DVD shelf: What am I, a mind reader? You always laugh your ass off at the part when Willard and Lance steal the surfboard.
Me: I do love the part when Cap'n Willard steals the surfboard.
DVD shelf: Try this.
Me: I can't watch anything in Japanese. I've been crying and can't read the subtitles.
DVD shelf: Well, Shogun Assassin doesn't have subtitles, it has a terrible voiceover by a horribly frightening child.
Me: Tempting, but no.
DVD shelf: This?
Me: That's better but...
DVD shelf: Come on, it's Flight of the Conchords!
Me: Yeah, but I'm not in a silly enough mood to watch something funny.
DVD shelf: Pan's Labyrinth.
Me: No! Nothing with scary monsters with eyes in their hands.
DVD shelf: Kung Fu Panda.
Me: Ooh, Kung Fu Panda! Except Wired said Kung Fu Panda was for dorks who can't think in their Coraline review, so maybe not today.
DVD shelf: But it's Jack Black!
Me: DVD shelf...
DVD shelf: Ugh. Why don't you just watch Friday's Battlestar Galactica on Hulu?
Me: Are you giving up on me? I'm depending on you, here.
DVD shelf: The Bourne Identity. This is good.
Me: That's not a bad idea, actually... No, Jason Bourne would've figured out a way to start my car despite the fact that it seems to have given up on life.
DVD shelf: The Natural?
Me: That will remind me of baseball season coming up and I don't have money to buy tickets since my CAR IS BROKEN! *sobs*
DVD shelf: Okay, okay, calm down. Sheesh... hmm... Aha! Firefly! You can't possibly object to Firefly.
Me: ...the menus don't have a "play all" option, though...
DVD shelf: I WASH MY HANDS OF YOU.
Me: FINE! I'll do it myself. Wh... what's this on the bottom shelf? Between Top Gun and The Untouchables? It's... it's... OMG U2 DVDs! Yes!
First I put in the Slane Castle DVD, which is amazing. Then I put in the Vertigo in Chicago DVD, which is awesome because I went to that show. Then I put in Elevation 2001 Boston DVD, which would be my favorite U2 tour if not for ZooTV, which trumps pretty much any tour by any band ever. But Elevation was especially good.
This inspired me to dig out the bootleg of the 5.12.01 concert. I put said bootleg into my stereo, thoughtfully put on my giant headphones and turned it most of the way up. You're welcome, neighbors.
Let me tell you about the May 12, 2001 concert. This was the first U2 concert I ever attended. I sobbed for days when I couldn't go to PopMart in Madison (apparently 15 is too young to convince your parents to take you to a concert which you will be attending alone because they certainly won't be going). When ZooTV came around I was eleven and was only vaguely aware of the existence of concerts and certainly had no interest in going to any - even if my favorite band was playing.
Stupid, ten year old self.
So this May 12, 2001 concert came at the culmination of years of longing to see a favorite band and I was particularly excited. It was one of those deals where I truly did not believe I was going to see U2 until they came on stage - I didn't believe it. It's possible MoPo was annoyed with me for a large portion of it and I don't blame her at all, since I'm certain I was fairly obnoxious (particularly for someone on the upper deck of the United Center), but what do you expect from a nineteen year old girl who is seeing her favorite band for the first time ever? Who has just realized that she and Bono are in the same building? And will soon be in the same room?! It's too much! (Sidenote: Until the September 25th, 2005 concert I had convinced myself that I was the kind of person who could be three yards away from Bono and remain perfectly composed, clapping and cheering but not freaking out like a crazy person. I was embarrassed to find that this was not true.)
Last night I listened to the May 12, 2001 Chicago U2 show. Not only was the tour fantastic, this show was completely fantastic. During Stay, Faraway (So Close!) the band brought a guy from the audience named Jonathan onto the stage to play the piano. Bono informed him that "if you're crap, you're off." He was hard to hear during the first verse because he was playing along with The Edge, but he changed things up in the second to go a bit more with the studio version of the song and everyone went nuts because it was perfection. It was a really amazing moment and I'm glad I was there for it. Whenever I listen to other bootlegs from that tour or watch the Boston DVD I feel like something is missing from that show's version of Stay, and then I realize that there is something missing, and it's the piano.
That song started what was the most amazing 30 or so minutes of my concert-going life. Maybe it's because it was my first U2 show or because they sounded so good that night (seriously, the balance on that tour was incredible), but nothing since has matched it or even come close. Those five songs flowed into one another without a pause between them. After Stay they played Bad (which you may be aware is my favorite song of all time ever) - and on the bootleg, you can hear me shriek with joy after half a second of the first sustained chord. Everyone else caught on with what song it was after about ten seconds when The Edge came in, but I had it right then (there may have been a few tears). This went into "40" - which I knew was coming but was incredible because listening to "40" on Under a Blood Red Sky I always wished I'd been along on the Joshua Tree Tour to sing along... and then I was. After that was Where the Streets Have No Name, which is a required favorite for any U2 fan and it's sort of... magic. Streets turned into With or Without You and it was then my brain exploded because I couldn't fit any more awesome into it.
I had to e-mail a dozen different people until I found someone who would send me the boot of that show free of charge (U2 doesn't have a problem with taping as long as people don't charge for the recordings, but it happens), but I'm glad I found it because it made a crappy string of days infinitely better.
(U2 is going on tour in 2009. The rumormill has it starting at Camp Nou in Barcelona which is neat on a number of levels. You can come if you want, but I'll probably still act like a spaz.)
So there you go. If you're having a bad day, listen to a particularly awesome concert with the volume up to 11. It will help.