Thursday, July 21, 2011

U2 @ New Meadowlands Stadium

@ New Meadowlands Stadium
East Rutherford, NJ - July 20, 2011

On this date in 1969, man stepped onto the Moon. It's all been underwhelming since then. July 21, 2011 marks the end of the American space program as a leading national endeavor. U2 appears to be aware of this. They took the occasion to make a more space-oriented version of their on-going 360 tour. Expanding the use of Bowie's "Space Oddity" throughout the show, there was a definite theme of interstellar exploration mixed in with the usual array of good-cause-down-your-throat Bonoism (now under the philosophical heading of "What time is it in the world?"). The NASA lover in me was moved when "Beautiful Day" was set-up by a message from Mark Kelly, NASA Commander, and husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Despite both Bono's mistitling of the man's recent role in Space,and despite his creepy similarity to Terry O'Quinn (John Locke) from Lost, it was unnervingly dramatic. Hearing a real life space commander whose wife was nearly killed by a deranged maniac say "tell my wife I love her very much, she knows" was a Kubrickian/Adamsian (as in Douglas) moment of seriously absurdly wonderful proportions (I'm getting a little choked up just retelling it).

Besides Bowie, many others were honored by Bono and the boys. Springsteen (and Clarence of course), and Sinatra, per the Jersey rule, were cited and quoted. Talking Heads and Leonard Cohen also made the grade. And in the "I'll-never-actually-dislike-these-guys" moment of rock n roll for the night, Bono read out the setlist from a show at the Fast Lane in Asbury Park, a gig some 30 years ago. U2 ended the show with their very first single, as they played it at the Fast Lane, "Out of Control". The fact that for all the spectacle, all the causes, the mission statement and agenda of this NGO called U2, they still remember being four semi-punky Irish lads hopping the pond to play the swamps of Jersey, is endearing beyond anything I could normally stomach. Exceptions can be made.

Adam and Larry never seem happier than when they are doing those early songs. Hell, Bono and Edge never seem happier too for that matter, but they also rely on the big later hits and everything else to get by. I still can't explain though that house remix of "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight". I don't know what any of them are thinking. (No more disco U2 heads on the screen please).

Almost 10 years ago, in the ass of the Philadelphia Spectrum, Bono looked at me and kicked a cup at me (this is not some cleaned-up recreation of the scene in American Psycho). He's not the only one for nostalgia and memories. They may be doing Spider-Man Broadway shows, they may be a never-depleted source of Human Rights Campaigns, they may be the most un-rock biggest rock band in the world to still be a rock band, but after all that - they really are just a bunch of Irish guys who kick cups at their fans. That's good enough for me. That and Interstellar Space Exploration.

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