Review: U2 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, May 22, 2005* - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-26-2005, 02:33 PM   #1
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Review: U2 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, May 22, 2005*

By Teresa Rivas

Before you read this review of my first U2 concert on May 22 at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center be forewarned. As I write this, I abandon my profession and all that goes with it. I'm no longer a journalist, I'm a fan. So, please, don't expect any objectivity, multiple opinions or "fair and balanced" coverage of the Sunday show. I waited in line in the cold for 12 hours to see this show. I've waited seven years for the opportunity. It was the culmination of all my hopes since I picked up my first U2 CD sophomore year of high school so, yes, in my very biased opinion, it was an amazing experience.

I've come to equate quality U2 experiences with early morning, beginning back in January when I had to stalk outside my local Strawbridge's at 8 a.m. for tickets when my attempts at the presale were foiled and through the harrowing minutes after the May 14th show sold out and we waited, barely breathing, to hear an announcement of a second show on the 22nd.

So when I dragged myself out of bed at 7 a.m. that day to an overcast sky and headed down to the Wachovia Center, I knew everything would be worth the effort.

I shouldn't have been surprised to find that everyone in line was as kind as people said they would be. The people in front of us were nice enough to ensure that our names weren't lost in the jumble when I foolishly forgot my member profile and had to run home to get it. It was a good, communal feeling as everyone waited, counting off the endless hours, offering one another snacks and stories to pass the time.

There could have been more organization to the final lining up process and as we waited, cattle-corralled outside, I felt the same nervous flutterings as I had four months earlier as my fate was about to be decided.

Sadly, I didn't get into the ellipse but was able to secure a spot along the railing on Edge's side of the stage. Exhausted and achy from hours on the windswept concrete, I almost envied those with seats—almost. Another two hours to go.

When Kings of Leon took the stage, I found myself surprised to enjoy the set since I'd read so many bad reviews about the group. While not awe-inspiring, or poised heirs-apparent to Lynyrd Skynyrd, I don't think that many attendees are giving Kings of Leon its due, just sweeping the group aside as annoying obstacles in the way to seeing U2 while the performance deserves more than that.

An example of such closed-minded people were the two women standing next to me, quite possibly the only two obnoxious people in the GA line, who covered their ears and yelled such clever quips as "Stop sucking" and "Go back to Leon" between songs. Since they weren't enjoying the music, the older of the two had plenty of time to very audibly tell the younger to push me with her elbows so she could gain more room for herself. As I was repeatedly rammed by the girl, who pretended very badly to be oblivious to the situation, I wanted to remind them that with 25,000 people here all dying to get as close to the stage as possible, having three feet of personal space wasn't quite an option. But this was going to be the best day of my life and I did have to spend the next two hours next to her, so I decided to suffer silently, without budging an inch, and taking comfort in the fact that they were barbarians and badly dressed.

Then more waiting, the loss of all feeling to the lower half of my body and, finally, the Arcade Fire song that starts the show came on. As the song ended and the “Zooropa”-like chant "Everyone" accompanied the red lights dropping from the ceiling a surge of energy seemed to shake off the hours of weary waiting as Edge appeared on stage.

The show began with "City of Blinding Lights" with the huge color-shifting curtain dropping around the stage and a puff of Vertigo-themed confetti descending from the sky. Bono appeared at the back of the ellipse farthest from the stage and climbed his way onto the catwalk. Let the screaming, jumping and flailing begin.

After "COBL" came "Vertigo" and "Elevation" and general (joyful) chaos reigned in the crowd as we screamed along to our favorite songs, jumping and grasping at air in our desperate attempt to touch members of the band as they strolled just feet away from us.

It wasn't until the fourth song, "Gloria," that I realized that I had no idea what the band had just played and could barely remember my own name I was so happy to be there, in the shouting jumping happy mass of people, seeing U2 live for the first time in my entire life. Personally, "Gloria" isn't one of my favorite songs but, nevertheless, there they were— the men of my dreams—doing what they did better than anyone else in the world, and I was mesmerized. Thinking back on the set list in the car after the show, it wasn't exactly the ideal I'd hoped for in the months leading up to the concert but, at the same time, I realized that I didn't care anymore. Everything U2 did was amazing and I loved every second of every song. The band could have played "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and I would have been leaping to the beat.

I thought that "The Ocean" brought the pace down a little but I guess everyone needed a little bit of a rest and it's hardly as sobering as a live feed from a war-torn third world country, so I didn't mind. The place exploded with "Beautiful Day" and it was nice to see Edge finally come into his own singing the last verse of "Miracle Drug" with an almost unassuming Bono, proud of his bandmate, mouthing the words along with his microphone at his side. Not that he could resist for long and soon joined back in in preparation of the chorus.

Next was "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," dedicated, of course, to Bono's father, followed by his exuberant drumming in "Love and Peace or Else." Standing on the other side of the catwalk when Larry Mullen, Jr. came down with the drum before ceding it to Bono, he was the only member I failed to be within three feet of (Adam Clayton strolled the catwalk before the end of the night) but, then again, Mullen has always been the elusive holy grail of U2 to fans.

Two '80s powerhouses, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky," were next, proving to be very welcomed throwbacks. One of my favorite live additions is during "Bullet" when Bono sings, like an ethereal hymn, "When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah, hurrah." "Running to Stand Still" followed and was dedicated to the men and women of the U.S. military.

Next was "Pride" and "Where the Streets Have No Name," and, I must say, that I was disappointed that Bono didn't run a lap around during the latter's intro. I know that he has been having some back problems but I found it troubling just the same, not wanting to think that he had turned 45 just under two weeks before and might possibly be a mere mortal like the rest of us.

"One" closed the first half of the show and ushered in the album of the encore. This proved to be my favorite part of the show, being an "Achtung Baby" girl myself, when the band played "Zoo Station," "The Fly" and "Mysterious Ways" back to back. Edge and Bono parted on stage and made their way down opposite sides of the catwalk to meet in the center during "Zoo Station" and it was truly exhilarating to have Edge and his bedazzled guitar so close. When Bono passed by I swear, if it weren't for the large burly security guard ready to taser me, I could have defied the laws of physics and pounced on him.

I was glad to see that U2 had worked out the kinks in "The Fly," and "Mysterious Ways" has always been a song I dreamed of hearing live, though my other dream of dancing with Bono during that or "With or Without You," which came next, would have to wait.

The show closed with "Yahweh" and "40" though, I have to admit, as the evening wound down I listened to them with a kind of desperation, knowing that the end was near and I wanted nothing more than to stay in this beautiful shimmering world of blinding lights. When it was indeed all over, and the band members made their way off stage, one by one, until Mullen hit his final note, I was exhausted, in pain, hoarse, sweaty and stiff. But it was all worth it, a swirling experience that I will never forget.

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Old 05-29-2005, 09:28 AM   #2
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My first U2 show was on Bono's birthday this year. Can completely understand what you were feeling at your first concert. I have waited since the 80's to see my boy's live especially Bono, . Im so happy that you got to be down next to the stage! Your story was very touching
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