Featured Cause: Music Rising*

August 28, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

On Aug. 25, 2005, the St. Petersburg Times in Florida warned its readers about the possible dangers of Tropical Storm Katrina. "While not a hurricane, it is a reminder of how quickly storms can develop and threaten the state," the paper wrote.

Just a few days later, residents in Louisiana and Mississippi learned how quickly storms could develop into a threat when Hurricane Katrina struck. The devastation that followed—caused directly and indirectly by Katrina—would, according to the Discovery Channel, kill 1,836 people, mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi. Hundreds more still remain unaccounted for.

The millions of survivors were left without homes, schools or businesses and were evacuated to locations all across the country. As the pictures and stories flashed across televisions, newspapers and magazines grew more and more grim, many were left to wonder if the region, particularly culture-rich New Orleans, would come back.

"It is a live culture," is how the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. describes the city. Taking its character from the various groups that have settled in the city (including French, Spanish and African), the city has become renown for its music, food and lifestyle.

After Katrina, though, it seemed that those things could be lost forever. In addition to funds being raised to rebuild the physical structure of the city, money was also needed to bring the cultural life back to New Orleans.

"New Orleans is a crucible for great music," The Edge told Rolling Stone last November. "The idea that it would be just a place of history for music is awful to me. Coming from Dublin in the ’70s, when music was something you had to search out, I’d never dreamt that somewhere like New Orleans could exist. Music was coming out of the walls. It seemed not just a form of escapism, but like it was weaved into everybody’s life."

That idea led The Edge to join forces with MusiCares, the charitable arm of The Recording Academy, music producer Bob Ezrin, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz and Guitar Center CEO Marty Albertson to create Music Rising, an organization designed to aid musicians impacted by the hurricane.

"My recent visit to New Orleans gave me a first-hand look at the devastation which tragically destroyed the lives of thousands," The Edge said at a press conference unveiling the organization. "The area’s rich and spirited culture must be restored and can be by assisting those musicians affected by the disaster, which in turn will bring back the essence of the regions. Providing replacement instruments through Music Rising will not only help the professional musicians to regain a foothold on their future, but will also ensure that one of the Gulf Coast’s greatest assets, its music, will rise again."

Since its inception, Music Rising has given $1,000 grants to musicians to buy new instruments and equipment at cost. The Edge has been able to hand over the new instruments himself at a variety of Music Rising events, including the reopening of Preservation Hall in April during JazzFest, where he also played with Dave Matthews Band and The New Birth Brass Band.

"While I was walking around at the jazz festival, four or five musicians came up to me and said, ‘Thanks for the new amp, man, it’s got me back on the road,’ or ‘Thanks for the guitar,’" The Edge told The Independent. "It was really inspiring, an amazing feeling, and it showed that this really is making a difference."

The organization is also getting noticed. Music Rising received the Gold Cause Marketing Halo Award for Best Transactional Campaign at the fourth annual Cause Marketing Forum conference in June and will be honored at the Billboard Touring Awards this November with its Humanitarian Award.

Music Rising has raised more that $1 million for musicians in New Orleans the Gulf Coast region through a number initiatives, including the sale of a limited-edition Gibson guitar, painted in Mardi Gras colors and made with woods from the affected areas, that is exclusively sold at the Guitar Center. The Edge signed a handful of the guitars that were later sold for $10,000 each.

The organization also sells a logo T-shirt worn by The Edge at this year’s Grammy Awards. Ticketmaster has established a series of auctions where winning bidders receive four concert tickets and an Epiphone guitar, with net proceeds benefiting Music Rising.

The Edge also hit the pavement to seek out donations, appearing in a public service announcement that ran on channels including VH1, as well as doing numerous interviews. In an interview with CNN, The Edge discussed a documentary he was making about Katrina and Music Rising.

A year after Katrina hit, Music Rising is still working to bring music back to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Through its website, which includes a blog and bulletin board, the organization takes donations, accepts grant applications from area musicians and shares some of The Edge’s experiences with Music Rising. The organization is also branching out to help schools, churches and community organizations, the places where, Edge once explained, the music really lives.

"Other parts of America have music scenes, but it really is a completely self-sufficient music culture in New Orleans," The Edge told The Independent. "It’s like the city is one giant music academy: everyone is into music, everyone’s learning how to play from other musicians. And with Katrina, that whole system has been completely shattered."

Music Rising is helping to bring that system back together.

For more information on Music Rising, visit its website.

Why U2 Always Inspires*

August 21, 2006

By Justin Sims

Be honest, if Bono wasn’t talking world leaders ears off, organizing groups of celebrities to do commercials, combining talents with other artists, doing more interviews on mainstream shows like "Late Night with Conan O’Brien," "Larry King Live" and even appearing on the sometimes-controversial Fox News show "The O’Reilly Factor," not to mention screaming, shouting, telling the audience to contact their Congress and praying at U2 concerts about the troubles in Africa, would a lot of the people that come to this site (including myself) be involved with The One Campaign in some way or the other? Would we even know what The One Campaign was? Would there even be a One Campaign without Bono?

And since it was basically unheard of in American politics and nowhere to be seen in the newspaper headlines or on the CNN’s and Fox News Channel’s of the world until Bono started going to the White House having serious talks with President Clinton and then even crossing the political spectrum and trying to tug on the heartstrings of George W. Bush and members of Congress and then informing them that something needed to be done about Africa, would any of us really even be familiar with the unspeakable AIDS pandemic, unfair trade and poverty that goes on in Africa to this day?

My guess is that if it wasn’t for Bono, the Africa situation would still be "out of sight, out of mind" with the majority of us.

Some people aren’t going to read a paper everyday (or even every week at that) or turn on the radio or TV to see what’s happening in the world and they definitely wouldn’t be bookmarking any news sites in their web browser. This is where listening to U2 can make people actually more aware of their world surroundings.

Not that the African emergency, as Bono has dubbed it, is the first worldly issue the fab four of Ireland have endorsed. The fact is that U2 has always tried to inform its audience and inspire them to make a difference.

I could list every social cause U2 has been involved with but it would take too long. Causes like Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Stop Sellafield have all been brought to listeners’ attention by U2. Look at the inside of most album covers and you’ll find information on how to contact these causes and where to go to learn more information.

Go to a U2 concert and just expect to see booths where you can support The One Campaign, Amnesty International, etc., and of course, listen to Bono preach like Martin Luther King and still be able to throw an F-bomb in somewhere and make it seem completely necessary for the motivation of the listener to do something.

I don’t have to tell you but U2 isn’t like other rock bands. Sure, there are the sexual references, lyrics dealing with violence and songs with raw anger with crunching echoing guitar riffs, pulsating basslines and strenuous-paced drumbeats. The difference is that the members of U2 aren’t mad because their heart was broken by an 18-year-old girl 50 years ago and are still bitter about it. They’re mad because their heart has been broken by governments that don’t care about its people suffering, mad because there’s nuclear waste about to be dumped in the Irish Sea, mad because a whole continent’s suffering has been widely ignored while rich countries do little to help.

The person casually paying attention may see all these causes U2 has endorsed and be skeptical of its intentions. They may throw their hands up in the air in disgust and say "Bono’s not even from America. How can he tell us to spend more money on Africa?"

Bono’s perfectly aware of this thinking and has stated an Irish rock star telling the United States and other big, wealthy countries to spend more money should be openly mocked. But whatever the mocking he receives, he says he’s prepared to take it for a cause he believes will define a generation.

The bottom line is that U2 cares and shows it through its songs and performances.

U2′s best songs bring light to the darkest areas of the human heart and make you completely aware that the world is a dark, terrifying place sometimes but that in the darkness, the light from U2′s music gets only brighter, filming up hope, comfort and love where there was bitterness, anger, hate and loss through songs like "With or Without You," "Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of," "Grace," "One," "Pride." I don’t have to say that the list goes on to you, though.

Of course, the members of U2—coming as a shock to some people—are human beings, too. Bono isn’t afraid to get angry and shows that anger with live performance such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Wake up Dead Man," "Bad," "Love and Peace or Else" and "Bullet the Blue Sky." But the anger isn’t selfish; they represent the thoughts of millions of people in the world who have lost loved ones through terrorist attacks, war, poverty, addiction and suffering. While many accept bad things will happen, U2 screams "no more."

There isn’t any shyness about telling you the members of U2 believe in God, either. However, they show their belief in a way that isn’t manipulative. They show their faith, their love and their questions to God through their songs, yet their songs are for everyone. Even if you aren’t a believer, U2 pats you on the back like a non-judgmental friend who just wants to be there for you and without religious affiliation, possibly shows what God is truly about better than some church people ever could.

The music speaks to the true condition of the human spirit. Unlike some Christian artists whose songs speak of only love, joy and hope while almost completely ignoring the worldly negative things and of course, only appealing to the Christian crowds by calling themselves "Christian artists," U2 songs admit there’s something wrong, reject a dreamer’s mentality by actually trying to change things even when they aren’t playing music, screams to you that you aren’t alone, that much more is possible than you think and that your voice can help change the world.

Then there’s moments when absolutely nothing needs to be sung. The notes that Edge plays at the beginning of "Where the Streets Have no Name" seem to come through the speakers like teardrops from someone who is at their most vulnerable, at the very limit of all they can take and by the time Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., kick in the bass and drums, are in full realization that through any sort of loss, hurt, anger and despair can come the hope, love, joy and peace that everyone—everyone—can have just by believing in something bigger than themselves.
And while the songs do ask more of you and challenge the listener to ask these hard questions to yourself, Bono has been completely open about his own shortcomings and isn’t going to quit cussing, drinking or just being a smart ass because whatever it is that makes U2 have the unique sound and feel that they have, one thing the band seems to agree on is that it’s bigger than the band, bigger than record contracts, bigger than charts, and definitely bigger than the idea that the world is the way it is, and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

While it would be natural for U2 to represent where they come from on the political spectrum, the left, they’ve made it completely clear that U2 isn’t a political party but more of a human rights party. Bono has called on both Republicans and Democrats in Washington and conservatives and liberals around the world to come together for The One Campaign. Here’s the thing that’s even more amazing: since Bono doesn’t have the wearing-flowers-in-your-hair attitude and actually can bring facts, statistics and a talent for inspiring people and passionately expressing his views to the table, people in Washington, the members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, the president of the United States, and others have actually listened and acted because the lead singer of the best and biggest band in the world rallied you, me, and anyone else who would listen at U2 concerts, TV shows, etc. to give a voice to a cause that gives a whole continent the opportunity for a much better life.

And while there’s lots of work to be done still, I’m convinced that not only is it possible to end world poverty, but that it will end. My doubts have taken a backseat to my faith in large part because I listen to U2.

How long U2 will sing new songs remains to be seen and, hopefully, it will be just as long as a band like the Rolling Stones has done. Only with U2, it’s Adam, Bono, Edge and Larry or not at all. And that’s what has made U2 special since its first album in 1980, that’s what makes the band inspiring. Four high school friends that have been able to keep their friendship together and still be one of the best bands ever. They write songs about the toughest issues we face in the world, they back organizations that give human beings more rights, that make the environment a safer place, that give musicians in hurricane-torn cities something to sing about and bring justice to civilizations that are treated completely unfairly. They’re unafraid of making fun of themselves or the ridiculous nature of what it means to be rich and famous. They’ve been able to keep a sense of humor, a sense of being relevant over 20 years of being in the music scene and despite the way some people treat them, they know they aren’t gods. They’re people. Like you. Like me. And that’s the most inspiring thing of all, the fact that they’ve been able to literally help change the world and bring their fans with them because they bring the message that together, anything can be overcome, nothing is impossible and, as naive as it may sound to some people, the future can bring better times for all of us.

Review: Keane at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, August 3, 2006*

August 9, 2006

By Matt Anderson

"We found our home in Boulder," Tom Chaplin, Keane’s lead singer, said shortly after the start of the band’s briskly paced 80-minute set at the intimate Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado.

The band’s first-ever show in Boulder was enthusiastically received, prompting Chaplin, in his strong East Sussex British accent, to kid about taking the entire front section with him everywhere he goes. That’s the section comprised primarily of lovely young ladies shouting their undying love for the 27-year-old baby-faced lead singer.

Naturally, the challenges of singing at 5,400 feet above sea level drew Chaplin’s immediate attention. After the rock-anthem "Bend and Break" from the group’s first album, "Hopes and Fears," Chaplin commented that’s what he felt like he was doing—bending and breaking.

Chaplin performs over an impressive vocal range and, true to the Keane spirit, even the elevation couldn’t get in his way.

Marking one year since the band opened for U2 at the Parc des Sports Charles Ehrmann in Nice, France, a football stadium that hosted somewhere in the range of 20,000 rockers, Keane headlined its own show to a capacity crowd of 700.

Touring in support of its second album, "Under the Iron Sea," an album that deftly avoids the sophomore slump, the band is already well traveled but, refreshingly, it has managed to escape the baggage of pretensions and put on a fun show that’s all about the music and the fans.

Chaplin, a multi-talented hyphenate (singer-songwriter-pianist-rocker), worked the stage well, bounding from one end to the other, shaking hands, signing autographs, and fully offering the band’s gratitude for the fans in Boulder, Denver and across America who support its work.

The energy and commitment brought to the stage by Chaplin, along with Tim Rice-Oxley on keyboards and Richard Hughes on drums, emphasized the breakout trio’s main strength—a focus on songs with meaningful lyrics worth singing.

(Photo by Matt Anderson)

For a band only two albums into their career, Keane benefits greatly from having songs that feel comfortably familiar, particularly the songs "Everybody’s Changing," "We Might As Well Be Strangers," "This Is the Last Time" and the aforementioned "Bend and Break." Chaplin also put ubiquitous hit "Somewhere Only We Know" to solid use as a great sing-along.

While their latest chart topper "Is It Any Wonder?" was every bit the sizzling rocker it promised to be, the songs benefiting the most from their performance were other, less familiar tunes off the new album.

Gaining extra resonance through their live renditions were the sweetly bitter "Leaving So Soon?" ("If you don’t need me, I don’t need you"); the eagerly optimistic "Put It Behind You" ("Because if you never even try, time will pass you by"); and the gently romantic "Hamburg Song" ("No, don’t want to be the only one you know; I want to be the place you call home").

The latter song Chaplin introduced by saying it was the one song he’d most likely screw up (expletive paraphrased), but it went off without a hitch.

With the set list skewing toward the new material, Chaplin dubbed "A Bad Dream," another song off "Under the Iron Sea," arguably Keane’s best song yet. The song’s relatively quiet and dramatic, about a soldier questioning his responsibilities and longing for his lost love. It’s a particularly timely song amidst all the renewed tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere.

(Photo by Matt Anderson)

That song reflects the band’s hallmark: soulful lyrics that constantly search for the bright side, for hope, even in unreasonable circumstances.

They were sentiments that could be heard all through the evening, from "Try Again," ("God I wish you could see me now; you’d pick me up and you’d sort me out"), to "Nothing in My Way" ("Well for a lonely soul you’re having such a nice time").

Keane’s found its niche with wholesome, universal songs that, like U2, the band it opened for only a year ago, can keep people engaged for years to come.

Get more on Keane from the band’s website and Interference.com’s interview with drummer Richard Hughes.

The Edge and The Explorer*

August 8, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

Ed. Note: In honor of Edge’s 45th birthday, Interference.com takes a look back at his connection to the Gibson Explorer.

Throughout the Vertigo Tour Bono told the story of how Edge landed in Dublin on a spaceship. He never said what guitar Edge was playing as he descended from the ship he no doubt built, but if looks are anything, it’d be a safe bet that the he had his Gibson Explorer with him.

"I was on a trip to New York and I went to a guitar shop," Edge told Joe Bosso in the Sept. 2005 issue of Guitar World. "I didn’t go with the intention of buying an Explorer. A Rickenbacker six-string was what I was after. But when I picked up the Explorer it felt really, really good. I wasn’t expecting it, but the guitar seemed to talk to me. ‘There are some songs in this,’ I said to myself."

Edge was just a teenager when he bought the guitar, still a teenager when he put the Explorer to good use on "The Boy" album. Since that time, the Explorer has played an integral part in every U2 album and tour, save "Pop" and PopMart ("It’s actually just on a long vacation, but it’s still around," Edge said of the Explorer in a 1997 MSN chat), right through "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" and the recently resuscitated Vertigo Tour.

The match makes odd sense. The majority of Explorer players hard rockers like Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters, James Hetfield of Metallica and Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest). While his playing style shares very little with these other Explorer-wielding guitarists, Edge has still managed to make his own mark with and on the guitar.

"On many levels the Explorer meshes well with The Edge and U2," said Greg Flamm, guitarist with U2 tribute band Vertigo USA. "First off, the shape of an Explorer complements Edge’s body or posture. It’s been said, ‘Edge is a man of angles,’ there are no soft curves in the shape of an Explorer, all rigid lines. Secondly, when U2 started out they knew they wanted to differ from the classic rock bands of the day, most guitarists at that time were playing Stratocaster or Les Paul body style guitars. The Explorer is a bold move to stand out from the norm."

(Mini Explorer image courtesy Musicstreet Limited)

It’s that distinct shape that originally made the Explorer a hard sell. "The Explorer’s radical body shape debuted in 1958 and was almost 20 years ahead of its time," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson Guitar CEO and co-founder of Music Rising. "Not until the late 1970s did rock ‘n’ roll’s most daring guitarists embrace the Explorer."

And Edge was one of them, his head fatefully turned by ’76 natural re-issue Explorer. "In many, many ways I think The Edge gave that guitar both a sound and an identity," said Guitar World’s Bosso. "Very few people were exposed to the sound of the guitar until they heard him and, as far as even the visual of the guitar, I don’t think they really saw it to a great extent until they saw it strapped around his shoulders."

(Photo copyright Philippe Carly, New Wave Photos)

The unique look of the guitar had kept it from gaining popularity in the mid-’50s and also gave Edge second thoughts about it in the late-’70s. "When I went back to Dublin and took it out of the case in front of the band, I was thinking, ‘How is this going to go over?’" he told Bosso. "It was so off people’s perceptions of what I might go for. There might have been one of two comments at first, but it clicked pretty quickly—the look, the sound. It felt natural."

That sound and shape have felt natural for many young guitarists who have come up after Edge, including Tom Dumont of No Doubt and Invincible Overlord. While Edge didn’t influence Dumont’s love of the Explorer, he and the U2 guitarist were drawn to it for similar reasons.

"When I was a kid there was a guy who rented a room from my mom and he had flowing long hair and a beard, and he played a beautiful mahogany Explorer exclusively," Dumont said. "He would open the case and show it to me as if it were a priceless jewel. He could shred on that guitar with furious abandon. I’ve been in awe of the Explorer ever since."

These days, Dumont plays an Explorer-esque Hamer guitar. "In my later 20s on tour with No Doubt I ventured into a guitar shop in Lincoln, Neb., and saw a Korina guitar made by Hamer that lived up to the Explorer fantasy of my youth," he said. "I contacted Hamer guitars and fell in love with their creation, the model they call the Standard. I own a number of them now and love the lightness of the Korina wood, the shape and balance of the body, and the resonance of the tone. It’s my No. 1 favorite guitar."

(Tom Dumont and one of his Hamer Standard courtesy of Tom Dumont)

The tone of the Explorer is part of what’s made it such a good fit for Edge and U2, the instrument behind trademark songs like "I Will Follow" and "Beautiful Day." For Bosso, the sound of the Explorer is what ties it to Edge most of all.

"I don’t think anybody’s made a sonic statement with that guitar the way The Edge has," he said. "Honestly, he’s the only guitar player that I think has made a real oral statement with the Explorer. The other guitar players just seem to sort of bathe it in distortion so you can’t really tell how the guitar sounds, per se, it could be any guitar they’re playing, really. The Edge is the only one that I really think has explored what that piece of wood sounds like."

Some of that exploration came out of the necessity. "It was the only guitar I had," Edge told Bosso. "You should’ve seen is in the studio when we recorded ‘Boy.’ Steve Lillywhite was aghast when I took the Explorer out of the case. He just looked at me and said, ‘Uh, what else you got?’ and I put my finger up and said, ‘I got one guitar and you’re looking at it.’"

Even in the early days, it seemed Edge knew he had a good thing going with the Explorer. "I think it’s the most distinctive of my guitars," he said in a May 1982 U2 Magazine interview. "It seems the body shape affects the sound somehow. It’s a very vibrant guitar with lots of treble."

"I used it for the first album and up until the recording of the ‘October album, but I seem to use another Strat that I bought more and more, so I think I’ll probably end up using the Strat for half the show and the Explorer for the rest," he said to U2 Magazine.

These days, Edge has quite a few more guitars at his disposal (his Vertigo kit includes 15 electric and acoustic guitars) but continues to use the Explorer. "Why should he change a winning combination?" Marko Zirkovich of www.worldsgreatestguitarist.com said. "He’ll continue to play the Explorer whenever he feels that it’s the right guitar for the task at hand. It might sound corny or clichéd, but as a guitar player you definitely develop a sort of relationship with a guitar. After all, you practice and play countless hours and grow accustomed to the idiosyncrasies and features of a certain guitar. You just know the guitar inside out, how the fretboard feels, how to get your sound, etc."

(Photo: U2.com)

Edge felt that relationship getting stronger and stronger during the ZooTV days, and that scared him a little bit. "I am starting to get attached to my guitars, which I’m very worried about because I went through 10 or 12 years of really seeing my guitar as the enemy, a thing I had to somehow fight against to find something new in there, so I never really got attached to my guitars but I’m starting to develop a real attachment to my Gibson Explorer in particular," he told BP Fallon in an interview that appeared in the ZooTV tour book and is now available on Fallon’s website.

By the time U2 started work on "All That You Can’t Leave Behind," Edge saw the Explorer less as an impediment and more as an old friend. "It’s the same one I used for all of the first record and most of the first three tours," he said in a 2000 Guitar Player interview. "It’s odd, around the time of ‘The Unforgettable Fire,’ I began to extend my collection to include more Teles and Strats, and the Explorer became less in favor. But now—maybe because we’ve gone full-circle musically—I’m drawn back to the Explorer. In fact, if you listen to the echo guitars toward the end of ‘Beautiful Day,’ the tone sounds like it could have come from the first record. It’s so that tone."

The rest of the members of U2, who at first may have had their doubts about the instrument, have also developed their own attachments to the Explorer over the years. "I was surprised by how much the guys in the band enjoyed the sound of it," Edge told Guitar Player. "Adam, in particular, was so delighted to see it out again. He said, ‘This thing sounds like nothing else on Earth!’ It’s a pretty special guitar."

(Photo: U2.com)

Music fans and collectors have embraced how special the guitar is, in no small part because of Edge. Musicstreet Limited, an online retailer targeting musicians, sells a mini replica of the Explorer in honor of Edge. "The Edge is synonymous with the Explorer since the days of ‘Boy’ and ‘October’ and the resurrection of the guitar in the video for ‘Beautiful Day,’" said Ian Rhodes, managing director for the Surrey, England-based site. "I think if you had to associate The Edge with one guitar, it’d be the Explorer."

Guitar World’s Bosso agrees. "That’s really the guitar he came out with so you have that first impression and it’s just right there," he said. "Plus, I do think he does enjoy coming back to that guitar. It’s not his only guitar, he definitely likes to change it up, but he does come back to it. I think it’s a big part of what he wants to put across, really. I think the audience really responds to the way that he’s presenting himself."

Many thanks to Mike Bamber, Joe Bosso, Tom Dumont, Greg Flamm, Caroline Galloway, Henry Juszkiewicz, Ted Matson, Ian Rhodes and Marko Zirkovich for all their help with this article.

Check out the Guitar World website here. Learn more about Invincible Overlord here. Visit the official No Doubt website here. The Vertigo USA website is here. The official website for Gibson Guitars is here. Get more information about Musicstreet Limited here or check out the mini-Explorer here.

Thanks to Philippe Carly for use of his photos. More photos of the young U2 and other new wave bands can be found at NewWavePhotos.com.

Introspect: ‘City of Blinding Lights’*

August 7, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

My friend joked that I must have been the person who put together the soundtrack for "The Devil Wears Prada," seeing that it featured two Madonna songs and one from U2. No, it was just a coincidence but a happy one, nonetheless, as I got to listen to songs from my favorite artists provide background to a fun story with fabulous clothing.

"City of Blinding Lights" ushers the characters of Andy Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway) and Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) into Paris and its infamous Fashion Week, striking the right note as the Eiffel Tower sizzles and pops with electric lights.

I was more excited than I probably should have been when the first notes of the song echoed through the movie theater. Actually, giddy is closer to the point. I threw my arms up above my head, nearly forgetting that I was in a movie theater where there were people seated behind me and not at the Staples Center where everyone around me was doing the same exact thing.

I’ve taken so many fantastic memories from the Vertigo Tour, the first U2 tour I attended as a hardcore fan. I saw six shows in three states at five venues and over two legs. And at all those shows I jumped and screamed and threw my hands up for "City of Blinding Lights."

From my first listen of "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" I felt certain that "City of Blinding Lights" would be an ideal concert opener. While most fans and critics spent time discussing what the actual city was (some guessed New York before and after 9/11 while others saw it as London through the eyes of a naïve young Bono or, maybe, it could be that mythical city on the hill, the one referred to later on in "Yahweh"), I saw it instead as a concert, that tight community that exists when band, music and fans exist as one for a short period of time.

It instantly made sense to me, the lights, the beauty, the idea of taking flight—those are all the things I see and feel and experience at a live show. The lights transform a somewhat soulless sports arena into whatever the artist wants it to be, from a volcano to a speakeasy to another planet. Each performer and audience member, cast in that light, becomes almost ethereal, the joy and excitement of the moment making everything more beautiful than words can describe.

Mostly, though, it’s the taking flight, the "getting ready to leave the ground" idea that sums up the concert experience for me. The tension and excitement builds from the second I pull up to the arena, growing more and more intense with every step. By the time the lights dim and the run-up gets going, I’m ready to explode. For the next few hours, I will be someone else. I will be free of all of my concerns. The world outside no longer exists. For the time being, it’s just me, the music and the few thousand people around me.

Of course I was excited when the band chose "City of Blinding Lights" as one of its openers throughout the tour. It set the tone of the evening for me, sort of announcing that all of us, together, were about the journey to this fantastic place. Six nights U2 took me to that place and I loved every minute of it.

This time when I heard the song, though, I wasn’t leaving the ground; I wasn’t being transported to some fantastic place. I was in the front row of a crowded movie theater watching a movie that provided a decent enough diversion but just didn’t have the same punch of a rock concert. I did have that moment, though, when I threw my arms up and I was tempted to thrust my hand forward to "Oh you look so beautiful tonight" like all of us did along with Bono every single night of the tour.

I refrained, instead slinking down a little more in my seat, both to avoid embarrassment and to keep from craning my neck up at the screen. While I could control my arms, I could do nothing about the pounding in my heart and twitching in my limbs, none of which could understand why we’d hear that song without just going nuts.

Like the feeling I get from The Arcade Fire’s "Wake Up," hearing "City of Blinding Lights" again was a nice little transporter not just back to Vertigo but to all the shows I’ve seen and will see, just that feeling of being lost in the crowd and the music and, for those few hours, not having a care in the world.