Opening Act(s): Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Los Lobos
Where The Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, Trip Through Your Wires, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, MLK, The Unforgettable Fire, Exit, In God's Country, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Help, People Get Ready, Bad, October, New Year's Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, With Or Without You, 40.
By Leon Teal
In the midst of a year of turmoil, self-searching, and adventure, I found myself planning a career change around U2's appearance at the CNE in Toronto. I quit my job in Regina, hopped in my '86 Mustang (loaded down with everything I owned in the world), and headed for Toronto.
I had fallen in love with U2's music in 1985, and that year had even driven thirteen hours from Wolfville, NS to Worchester, MA in the hope of purchasing scalped tickets to one of their three appearances there. No luck!
This time I had my ticket in hand, and after three days of driving, found myself at the CNE with 60,000 U2 fans. I've been to many concerts and know the perils of getting proper sound at an ouotdoor venue. My first impression is that the sound is incredibly crisp and clear. The opening acts appear and disappear. And around 9:00 the REAL show begins. The pretaped intro to "Where The Streets Have No Name" heralds the entrance of the band. Bono's arm in a cast! The opening song is delivered with a fury that makes the studio version somehow pale by comparison.
The fury carries over to "I Will Follow." As Bono sings, his breath is visible in the cool Ontario air. The four guys look relatively tiny in the massive stadium, but the music seemingly seeks out every corner of the venue.
And then, somewhere around "The Unforgetable Fire" I realize that I'm part of an event that somehow transcends a normal 'rock concert.' At the risk of sounding like a refugee from 'Spinal Tap' I recognize that I am no longer simply taking in a rock concert, but that somehow I am being pulled into communion with 60,000 strangers. I find myself thinking that this is a spiritual experience; unlike anything I've ever experienced at a concert.
"Exit" - one of my least songs favorites from the "Joshua Tree" album is delivered with a fierceness that is simply awe inspiring. "In God's Country" - particularly the Edge's guitar solo - elvates the whole event yet another notch. And so it goes. By the time the final notes of "Bad" ring out across the stadium, I just want to cry. Tears of joy.
The trip to the encore is glorious, and once there the ugliness of "Bullet the Blue Sky" finds a perfect counterpoint in the poignant beauty of "Running To Stand Still." "With Or Without You" could easily be dismissed as obligatory, except it's such a damn fine piece of music that it rises above... itself! As I walk out into the cold Toronto night, the strains of "40" still rising up from within the stadium, I somehow know that I have been touched in a way that I cannot - on this night - put into words. Before 1:00am I'm back in my Mustang, with 20 hours of driving ahead of me as I travel to Summerside, PEI and my new career in banking - a career destined to be cut short.
It's seven years before I discern the depth of how I was touched that night at the CNE. Seven years beforeI understand what even I myself mean when I tell my friends that U2 was a 'spiritual experience.' Seven years before I give my heart to Jesus Christ. And it's a few more years before I would find what He was looking for from me. Sign me off as Reverend Leon Teal.