Opening Act(s): PJ Harvey
Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until The End Of The World, New Year’s Day, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Gone, Kite, New York, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Sweetest Thing, In A Little While, Angel Of Harlem, Stay (Faraway, So Close), Bad-All I Want Is You, Where The Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, The Fly. Encore: Bullet The Blue Sky, With Or Without You, Pride (In The Name Of Love), One, Walk On.
Bono sings snippets of The Beatles ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Twist And Shout’ at the end of ‘Elevation.’ Later in the show, Bono comments on The Beatles having played at the Mellon Arena back in the 1960’s.
U2’s Stripped-Down Show Rocks Mellon Arena
by Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic
Scaling it back from the stadium-rocking spectacle of Zoo Tv and PopMart, U2’s Elevation Tour finds Bono and the boys refocusing their energies on what for them, at least, would more than likely constitute a stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll show:
Messianic, self-important, Only Band That Matters rock ‘n’ roll.
But stripped-down nonetheless.
Compared to Zoo TV and PopMart anyway.
And even then, it’s not as though U2’s appearance last night at the Mellon Arena was something you’d see on a club tour. It still had the lighting and staging that come with arena-rock pricing. It still had the catwalk and strobe lights. It still had the video monitors with one screen devoted to each of the guys in the band.
But even with a camera trained on bassist Adam Clayton for the show’s duration, Bono commanded the spotlight with a frontman’s swagger, working the catwalk like a young Mick Jagger raised on too much MTV while running the gamut of textbook rock messiah-complex gestures and bringing two girls on stage to dance.
As staged as things could seem at times, there was a certain essence of sincerity on Bono’s part to cut through all the show biz.
“I hope you don’t mind us shrinking it down a bit from the Three Rivers Stadium shows,” he told the crowd. “At one time, we were thinking of taking up a residency bar thing at Three Rivers. Every Monday night.”
A dedication of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” to his old friend Michael Hutchence was both heartfelt and hilarious when Bono joked, “Australians are like Irish who can’t drink.”
He later told the crowd “You look much smaller in real life” and joked “We’d like to do something now which is very difficult for singers to do. I’d like to introduce you to the members of the band.”
The sound was surprisingly hollow and distant at first — on “Elevation” and “Beautiful Day” in particular — but thickened as the set wore on through “New Year’s Day,” a breathtaking “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” with the Edge on all those chilling high notes, and “Kite.”
It really kicked in, though, on “I Will Follow.” Pounded out with all the urgency of early punk, it made good on the promise of a stripped-down show at last, as did a slightly more bombastic “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” For whatever reason, U2 seemed to find the earlier material more energizing. Other early and/or semi-early hits included “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “All I Want Is You” and “Mysterious Ways.”
At one point, U2 truly stripped it down with Bono and the Edge on acoustic guitar for “In a Little While,” “Angel of Harlem” and “Stay.”
As Bono told the crowd by way of introducing “In a Little While”: “One of the reasons we started the band is because we heard another group out of New York City called the Ramones. Joey Ramone died a couple weeks ago and this was the last song he wrote … He turned this song about a hangover into a gospel song.”
The part about the authorship was just a fib, but Bono wasn’t kidding when he called it gospel. It was gorgeous, as was “Stay.”
As Bono could tell you, there are many ways to command an arena crowd’s attention.
Polly Jean Harvey standing on stage in a rhinestone-studded miniskirt and go-go boots while singing “Lick my legs/I’m on fire/Lick my legs/I’m desire” is certainly one of them.
But she offered more than kinky sex appeal as an opening act. She set the stage with that electrifying solo-electric performance, then the band came out and proceeded to rage through a set that at times — “Good Fortune,” in particular — suggested an alternate universe where Chrissie Hynde spent less time hanging out in biker bars and more time in an art-school dormitory getting stoned to Patti Smith. Highlights included a trance-inducing yet exhilarating “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore” and the utterly gorgeous “Horses in My Dreams.” By the time her band had finished trashing through the art-garage of the obvious choice for final song, “Big Exit,” anyone who didn’t get it wasn’t gonna get it anyway.
EXCLUSIVE: U2Station.com Webmaster’s Review:
Elevation Pittsburgh: Stuck In Moments That I Dont Want To Get Out Of.
by Jonathan Wayne
2 nights later. Badly sunburned. Hand reaches over the bed and grabs the alarm clock. 5:20 AM. Can’t move the nape of my neck. Don’t want to. Mind is racing with memories of something surreal. Can barely shift my head to the side with enough fortitude. Some things are just sticking in my mind. Don’t even care about insomnia. T.C., the brouhaha beer vendor, roars rowdily in the heart. I was in the heart too. I was in the center of attention, surrounded by more attention. Bono and the Edge, mere inches away. Adam and Larry, a few inches more. 6 minutes later, I’m still wide awake. Not sleeping. I’m stuck in moments I dont want to get out of.
Who wouldn’t want to be stuck in a 2 hour reality where your favorite band encircles you completely? Not I. The concert was nearly 4 years in the making. U2 came to Pittsburgh on May 6, 2001. These are my cogitations and memories of a show that will be forever stuck in my brain until the day I die.
So, where does it all begin? Where did it all go right? When did it never go wrong? Well, it was almost perfect.
7 hours waiting in line. 1 nice large bottle of Aquafina. 1 gorgeous digital camera. 1 bathroom break. No sunscreen. Waiting to get into the heart for the show was a marathon of sorts. Ironically, that same day the Pittsburgh Marathon was being held right there in downtown. We had a different kind of marathon. It was a waiting game for the greatest show on Earth. The goal was elevation. The place: Mellon Arena. The time: 12:07 PM. That’s when my friend, Auggie, and I arrived there.
We park the car in the $10 lot. He takes his box sandwich and Aquafina water he just bought at the Unimart. I take my Aquafina. My pockets are loaded. Wallet. Loose change. Tickets. Sunglasses. Digital camera with a 220 page manual. Well, actually, i carried that loot in the plastic bag that I got at the store. It wasn’t time to smuggle that in. Not just yet. I quickly realize that the line is healthy and long by the time we hit the Mellon Arena property. The GA (General Admission) line, is already 40-50 feet in length. Maybe already 120 people. At least thats what one of the security guys told me a few minutes later. So we take our place in line, along a corrugated concrete wall, with a perfect height to either sit or lean against. We are about 20 feet above the employee lot below. The crew’s massive trailer buses are parked side by side. I see 5 or 6 empty cases of beer sitting in between one of the trailers. Becks, Corona, Budweiser, etc. Maybe the band is in one of those dozen buses? We think that Bono will poke his head out of a window or something. Not to be. On the long dirty concrete walkway that stretches around the Arena is where we sit. Always to the right of us is the space-saucer-like silver dome, looming above us like a UFO waiting to abduct us all. To the left, the parking lots and streets. We have a picturesque view of downtown Pittsburgh, with the USX building, like the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, seemingly staring right down at us. Meanwhile, the sun is bright, amidst the blue skies. 72 degrees. It is going to be a long day.
About 20 minutes later, I reach down to grab my camera in the plastic bag. I feel perfect. I got everything with me. So I turn it on, and suddenly it dies. The thing just froze in its place, with the lenses all out still. I tried switching it off, and nothing happens. I mean, this is my brother’s week-old, brand new digital camera, which he is letting me use. I gradually panic, realizing that the batteries were still fresh when I tested it last night (at least thats what the indicator light said). What could it be? The two bulky 3 volt lithium batteries? Maybe the sunshine did something to it. But thats crazy! I know this is the first time I turned the camera on outside. It should work, but it does not. I put the mechanism down for another hour and search for options. Either of us cannot really leave the GA line for too long, so I call up my family via my friend’s very essential cellphone. Around 3pm: success! The camera takes 4 standard AA batteries! Here I am, with the camera’s 220 page camera manual in my pocket, not realizing the power potential of this thing. I couldn’t imagine not having a camera for this show, especially being that I had a special photo pass waiting for me at the Will-call window. I have to learn not to panic so easily. I wish Bono could teach me that.
The hours tick by. 1 PM, 2 PM, 3 PM. Meanwhile, both myself and Auggie start leaving the line more often. I meet up with some friends I know on WIRE (the U2 mailing list). David is one guy I’ve known since 1997, when he came here for the Popmart concert. 2 days before the show, he emails me and says he’ll be here. I hadn’t heard from him in over a year. I call him up on the cellphone. I walk over there (about 30 people away). His friends are sitting near the shade of a tree, on a blanket. I guess thats one of the rewards of arriving at the arena around 10:30 AM. I say hi to Nico, with her camcorder, as she documents the fans one by one. Supriya, the U2 fan I’ve been emailing for a few months is there too. I probably see 3 or 4 pizza delivery people (from Pizza Outlet) walk by me, as I sit on the ground, with my shorts stuck to the tar-saturated concrete. Boredom really sets in now. Now that the camera is fully functional again, I take it out, snap some pictures, put it back in the bag, take it out again, inspect it, set some preferences in the menu on the LCD screen, shut it off. I see 4 radio station vans set up nearby. The WDVE van blares some music from their speakers. It takes about 4 hours until we all finally hear a U2 song. They played Sunday Bloody Sunday, very fitting for that day (though I would label it Sunday Burnt Sunday now due to my sunburn). Around 5:30 PM, I hear one more: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Can you believe it? Nearly 6 hours have just gone by. Time to buy some souvenirs!
T-shirts are $30, beanie (Edge styled) hats are $25, buttons are $2, pins and keychains are $8, posters: $10, sweatshirts are maybe $35, programs are $20. I was hoping for some replica oversized lemons from the Popmart tour too. In any case, I bought a T-shirt and a program, while Auggie bought two T-shirts and a poster. Where did we put all the loot? It was only a good 1 minute run from the car.
Finally, the line starts picking up and moves down towards the lower gate just before 6:30 PM. For the first 200-300 lucky fans, the exodus into the heart will be a reality. The real journey has begun. After watching the venue employees and PJ Harvey-filled limousines arriving at the gate for the last few hours, it was our turn to enter the arena now. The yellow security men loomed ahead, warning us that anyone found with a camera will be removed from the arena. The cam was already in my bulging pocket. My mind was only focused on getting this possession into the arena. I let them walk by me. We walk through the doors. One says: “have your right hand ready”. The red paper wristband goes around my arm. I’m in!
The fans all seem to be in a bit of a hurry. They want to have a great view of the stage. Being pretty excited myself, I walk briskly towards the inner entrance. We walk through and into the open. The floor is still empty. Guards are standing along the sides of the railing. Then the heart. Left wrist gets a white bracelet this time. Some fans gather in front of the stage area, some fans line along the heart railing. It’s all happening so quickly. It is probably close to 7 PM. PJ Harvey, the opening act is due in less than 30 minutes. The night is on the verge of starting.
So what else do the fans do in the heart prior to the show? People walk up to me and ask what that tag (that reads “U2 WIRE”) around my neck is for. I tell them its the more or less official fan-made mailing list for the band. Over 4,000 subscribers and counting. Thats enough of a population to persuade anyone to join. I may have just recruited a new member. How about those crazy offbeat vendors that are at every venue, regardless if its ballgames or rock shows? T.C. (Tom Congdon), for one, really got the blood pumping in the heart that evening. Auggie and I walk up to him, buy a beer and a bottle of water, and he starts going off on his trademark hootin’ and hollering. That’s one hillarious man, T.C. For those several minutes, he’s catering only to the lucky few in the heart, and that’s us. Because that’s ground zero. That’s “where its at”.
Time to find the photo passes. It’s not like I “needed” them. However, after this lady named Mary emailed me about offering one to me, I knew I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. So I exit the heart, walk back towards the gate, passed the concession stands with the food and souvenirs, and upstairs unto the ground floor. I am persistent. I concentrate on only finding this photo pass. I knew I cannot go outside once I’m in there. So I try to find a ticket window inside. They tell me to go back downstairs to the security window. I feel helpless, like a novice asking for too much in return. Then, right near the GA entrance by the outer doors, I see her. I don’t remember her name, but there she was, handing out these little photo stickers to some professional photographers. Who do I think I am? I’m not a professional working for a newspaper or media group. And yet I’ve been given a photo pass. In her thick british accent, she says to me: “Be back here around 8:15 PM if you want to photograph U2”. You bet your ass I’ll be back.
The lights go dark at around 7:30 PM. PJ Harvey, in her glamourous and glittering miniskirt, steps on the stage by herself with a guitar around her shoulders. Evocative. Rapturous. Sexy. Mysterious. Glossy. Vehement. Intense. Are there any more adjectives that I need here? The band immediately joins her in some later songs. I’ll never forget staring at her slender legs. I’ll never forget her profound voice. How about that tambourine she was shaking around? Polly Jean Harvey has rhythm.
After her conclusion of “Down By The Water”, I rendezvous back with the group of photographers. We walk through an “Employees Only” door, into the catacombs of Mellon Arena. I cannot believe it! I’m walking into the backstage area where the band is. We emerge from the long tunnel and into the crew area. I look for the band, but all I see are piles of boxes and wires strewn about on the black rubber floors, behind the stage. Finally, we are led into the photo pit along the sides of the catwalk, that is behind the railing surrounding the heart. There are metal footholds for the the photographers to stand on. I climb up, i quickly look behind me and all I see are a multitude of fans pressed up against the heart-shaped catwalk, probably staring right back at me. Being above all the fans, I may be the tallest person on the floor at that very moment! With Harvey having concluded her set several minutes ago and the house lights still on, I can hardly breathe normally. There are only 9 or 10 other photographers with me in the pit. Then I see Nico, with her video recorder, standing next to me. I tell her: “I’ve never done something like this before”. Not only have I accessed the heart, but the off-limits photo pit, that is also filled with several security men. I turn on the Olympus 3030-Z camera, and I wait in my hiding place, for the boys we’ve all been waiting for.
Around 8:45 PM or thereafter: The silence is ruptured immediately! With the house lights still on, Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry materialize from behind the stage, one by one. They kick into “Elevation”. Bono grabs the microphone, swings himself around in front of the band. “Whoooo…Ooooh”, “Whoooo…Ooooh..Ooooh”, he cries out. At the “mole” part, the lights shut down, with the band still on the main stage. Bono adds some snippets from Beatles’ songs near its conclusion (“Twist and Shout” and “Baby You Can Drive My Car”). Mellon Arena is rocking! Immediately, when the song ends, the “Beautiful Day” begins. Beams of white light radiate from the stage, and the band is in high gear. All this time, I’m standing stunned in the pit, high above the crowd. Then, the moments come. Bono walks down the catwalk towards me. I see his glistening leather jacket approach. With glasses off, he stands less than 12 inches from me. I can see each bead of sweat on his forehead. At times, the spotlight is on both of us. Immediately, some photographers rush over towards my area, desperately securing a perfect shot. I would say, maybe half the time, I was dazed enough not to hold the camera in front of my face, and the other half, I was sagacious about doing my work. Then Edge joins Bono on the catwalk for “Until The End Of The World”. At one point, Bono straddles himself on the floor, almost posing for photographers. I freeze in my spot, entranced by the moment. I carelessly snap as many images as I can. Then the Edge playfully assumes the role of the matador and Bono the bull, as his fingers point up against his head. They advance towards the tip of the catwalk, where the crowd outside the heart reach out to try to touch them. Adam and Larry remain on the main stage, as witnesses to their mates’ wrangles. The song ends. Myself and the other photographers are escorted out of the pit after the first three songs (as expected). I re-enter the heart and join the fans, ready to keep on rocking!
With a camera in one hand and around my neck, and my hand high up in the air, I dance to “New Year’s Day”. Having no idea where my Argentinan friend, Auggie, is, I stand near the right corner of the heart. At this early point in the show, I am personally not very frenetic as of yet. I know that once I find my friend (or he finds me), I’m probably going to beat him up (in a joyful manner of course). I look about. Nevermind, U2 is much more important anyway. As soon as the song ends, Bono walks up to the microphone on stage, and speaks. “This is a great city to play, I hope you don’t mind us shrinking it down a bit from the Three Rivers Stadium shows,” he tells the crowd. “At one time, we were thinking of taking up a residency bar thing at Three Rivers. Every Monday night.” Moments later, after pausing just slightly on the alcohol remark, he jokes: “Australians are like Irish who can’t drink.” On that note, Bono introduces “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” as a dedication to his old friend, Michael Hutchence. What am I hearing next? For some awkward moments, I think the band is playing “Last Night On Earth”. No, no. It’s “Gone”! I cannot believe the band is introducing this song in the setlist again. I am dumbfounded! Then “Kite”! At this point, I feel so high, I’m a hot air balloon, being fueled incessantly by gasoline. I don’t want to come down. I am floating up towards the top of the dome, as bright colors light my way. The silver hemispherical roof blocks my exit, and I rapidly descend back down to “New York”. Translucent curtains dip down from above the perimeter of the heart. Shadows crisscross across these streamlined canvases. Lights are blocked by these half a dozen or so screens that encircle the heart. I see Bono circa Rattle & Hum era, draped beneath a ten-gallon hat. He stealthily walks through the black and white ambience that permeates here. His monochromatic figure is silhouetted against the white lights. He snakes through the shadows. He is a ghost, painting his streaks onto us all. Then, as soon as the shadows disappear, time warps backwards even further. Punker Bono emerges from the cowboy’s shedding skin, and the band rips into “I Will Follow”. Then, reality hits me on my back, as my friend Auggie finds me once again. Yet another punk!
As soon as the quaking “Sunday Bloody Sunday” subsides, Bono time-travels back to the beginning of everything. He introduces the band, one by one. “You look much smaller in real life” and jests “We’d like to do something now which is very difficult for singers to do. I’d like to introduce you to the members of the band. Before we were called U2, we were called The Hype - long before we lived up to it. Before that we were called for a whole lunch break, the Larry Mullen Band. I’d like Larry Mullen to stand up, come up and ‘fess up, our first employer, our only employer, Larry Mullen Jr. Our first manager, the jazz man, the musical conscience of the group, a sandal wearing hippie under that punk rock stance, the poshest member of U2, Lord Adam Clayton on the bass. The first time I saw him he had a curly blond afro and a ‘76 afghan coat and he was using words like ‘gay’ and ‘action’ on the bass so I knew he was a true musician. Bringing what looks like peace to Mexico City, Zapatista himself. He could have come to Pittsburgh on the space shuttle but no he chose a Gibson Les Paul. A card carrying genius, The Edge.” After a rare rendition of “The Sweetest Thing”, Bono once again dedicates a song to one of his mates. “One of the reasons we started the band is because we heard another group out of New York City called the Ramones. Joey Ramone died a couple weeks ago and this was the last song he wrote… He turned this song about a hangover into a gospel song.” As I stand there looking at Bono near the tip of the heart catwalk, with my back away from the main stage, “In A Little While” commences. As the spotlight concentrates on Bono and the Edge, I can’t help but looking back at Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., alone on the stage. U2 is all around me. Love is all around me, it’s everywhere I go. In my heart, in the fans’ hearts, in THIS heart, we want these moments to last forever.
What is it with the signs?! Fans have signs everywhere throughout the arena! During one point right before “The Sweetest Thing”, Bono stops the entire show just to ask someone half-way up the side of the arena what their sign means: “Does your mother have the sugar?” And with his mini flood light, Bono aims directly on the sign, laughs and says: “Does that have something to do with liqour and other bad stuff, I think it does.” In another point during the band introductions before, a girl was holding a sign that read “Adam, can I touch your instrument?” I don’t need to educate you on double entendres, however to the sign’s response, Mr. Clayton, grinning, dips down his bass guitar for the girl to touch. One sign sums it up best: “Take me to The Edge”.
How about an “Angel Of Harlem”? We’ve got one out there somewhere tonight! How about staying with us closely? We have “Stay (Faraway, So Close)”! Anything “Bad” going on? On a personal note, “Bad” was one of the highlights of the night. After the “stripped-down” versions of the two former songs, with Bono and the Edge on the acoustic guitar (though “Stay” wasn’t intended to be played to begin with), this gem from the “Unforgettable Fire” really solidified the set that night. I remember at times, I shouted out “Dave”! Or “Paul”! I would think that most of the endearing fans in the heart realized that those were the true names of the Edge and Bono. With the camera still around my neck, I keep tinkering around with the flash. Earlier on in the show, I was intimidated by the security guards from using this option on the camera. I tried to go into Bono’s head. I manifested some fantastic thoughts like “Who is this annoying guy with the bright as hell flash”? I kept envisioning this line going through Bono’s mind, as he walked near me on the catwalk. I even thought he’d stay away from me at times. I’m just a fan! What am I to do. “Mr. Hewson: I’m sorry for the undue aggravation, but this is the first time I’ve actually used this camera.” I’m a fan. I’m a fan. I’m a fan. And If I was female, “All I (would) Want Is You”! That was an excellent rejoinder to “Bad” by the way.
Here it comes! Here it comes! Here comes the 16th unrestrained masterpiece. The panels shoot up slowly. Blazing red and white light gush out of the screens from behind Larry. The stage, the heart, the arena is awash with bright reds! The chiming begins. The jangling guitar introduces “Where The Streets Have No Name”. The heart is OUT OF CONTROL! People are lifting themselves up, defying gravity. Fans are jumping off the floor, trying to eject themselves from some invisible emergency hatch, that is rooted to the ground! My camera is bouncing off my chest, even with my hand completely grasping it. First a young man is raised on someone’s shoulders. He bodysurfs through the crowd. Moments later, two girls pop out of the congregation. The lights dance through the air, streaming on the roof of the arena, on the seats and rafters up on top. A wall of sound, a fence of light, a wave of emotion spills out into the masses. Scattered security guards around the perimeter of the heart point their flashlights on the bodysurfers. Right before “I want to run”, Bono starts running at breakneck speed around us on the catwalk. He accomplishes one full lap at a time. He’s flying high. The place is alive and explosive. The energy is everywhere. Pittsburgh is being elevated at last! Then, as soon as the song ends, Bono takes a rest on a light pillar that ascends from the stage. A belly dancer’s figure appears on 5 or 6 other pillars at the same time. Bono picks up another girl from the audience to dance with. A heady dose of “Mysterious Ways” has now hit us. These are Edge’s moments of glory now. He intoxicates us with guitar solos that segue into an outstanding version of “The Fly”. Following suit, Bono jumps into the crowd outside of the heart. He is elevated into the air. Meanwhile, the roof has got these light shows going on, and I’m so caught up in the excitement, I’m not sure who or what to look at anymore. So I turn my gaze to the Edge, who remains on the main stage, while Bono is out seducing the crowd. Then as a fly that got smothered onto an unlucky car’s windshield, Bono runs to the stage and “attaches” himself to one of the screens of light for several moments, as his hands and limbs are all sprawled out motionless.
I guess I can say that the “official” encore begins with “Bullet The Blue Sky”, though I personally believe that it really does with “One”. In any case, after the charged up performances of the latter three songs, it was time for a little diminutive dj vu. What kind? ZooTV kind. This time, the long row of miniature Popmart-styled screens on the stage became ZooTV-styled television monitors that integrated a slice of the ZooTV tour attitude. Two identical monitors revealing Charlton Heston along with one “brainwasher” in the middle (depicting phrases and words), seized the show. In the background, an unusually high-pitched voice was singing delta blues. As anti-gun phrases such as “only bad people have guns” flashed across the middle monitor, Bono, saturated in red light, more or less effectively got his latest political message through, though this could have been done without the fanciful ZooTV-esque props. But then again, who wouldn’t want a taste of ZooTV once more!?
The lights turn deep blue, some strange “latin”-constellation text starts streaming onto the roof and elevated screens surrounding the heart. As cigarette lighters gradually turn on throughout the arena, the band plays an emotional version of “With Or Without You”. Then, as Edge with his blue Pumas and red numberless “Viva Zapata” t-shirt, walks by us on the catwalk again, I move towards the tip of the heart, from my position on the left side, and take some more images. Towards the end of the song, the band regroups on the main stage. “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, has everyone off the floor again! We’re rocking, we’re rolling, we’re singing: “In the name of love…what more in the name of love”! Absolute energy. About 7 guys in front of us grab each other’s shoulders in an act of pure male bonding, and jump as a whole, well up into the air. Then, for several moments, I see most of the band look our way. We have caught their attention! I could swear I made eye contact with Bono (or Adam and Edge) for more than several seconds throughout the concert. But with all of us jumping around like lunatics, its no surprise that we made a scene. And thats purely appropriate. Because this was an amazing fucking night. And I couldn’t give 2 American bollocks if we all looked like fucking idiots, with our hands and fingers swinging in the air, and our legs 35 degrees in front and behind us! Because this was OUR night.
Nearing the end of the show, I completely turn off the flash on the camera and focus solely on the near-stationary band, standing idle on the main stage. These are my best shots of the night. I have amassed over 100 images tonight. When “One” begins, Bono sings with his green guitar in the middle of the stage. Finally, “Walk On” caps off the set with incredible enthusiasm and joy. A devoted fan named Vanessa, dressed in her Irish football/soccer jersey, hands Bono a small bottle of bubbles, in the front of the stage. Bono struggles to blow the bubbles, adding lines near the end of the song such as “All the bubbles that you can blow.” I am at my peak in terms of enthusiasm. After taking the the camera off around my neck, I just elevate myself to the music. The band ends on a high note with Larry hitting the large cymbal with a loud crash. As the band departs from the stage, Bono goes back one more time to the microphone and says “Thank you Pittsburgh. This was an amazing, amazing night!” Seconds later the lights turn on, and in a daze, we slowly crawl out of the heart. I stumble off the floor and up an aisle, sit on a red chair for a few minutes, observing the crew immediately tearing apart the stage. I look back one more time. 11:14 PM. We exit.
Did U2 outdo themselves tonight? Most certainly, as they said themselves. U2 did the unthinkable, pulling off an “intimate” arena show, and foregoing most of the extravagance of past tours such as Popmart and ZooTV. There was something in the air at tonight’s concert. Maybe it was the fact that U2 may have been inspired to play in the same building that the Beatles played in during the 1960’s. Maybe it was just another one of “those” nights, one of those rare nights, where the band left behind their conformity and tight production at the door. There are always moments of improvisation when you’re a musician or an artist of some sort. Time isn’t written in a book. It can be changed. U2 can change. But how about me? Do I want to keep the memories of this show the same? Oh yes (except for the sunburns). These are some moments I never want to get out of. Push these memories aside and add them to my mental inventory. I want more.
(written May 8-9, 2001 in a total of 9 hours).
Note on images: This was the first time I ever attempted taking concert photography and the first time I ever really used a digital camera. Out of 109 images taken, I salvaged 73 that I believed were average to above average in quality. As you view these images, you may notice that some pictures are somewhat blurry. Though I wasn’t planning on this, this style actually gives the image a rather interesting perspective. As for the graininess and red eye, these were mainly due to the use of the built-in flash. Without the flash, close-up shots would have been considerably blurred and underexposed. Out of my experience, I learned that action shots (running, kicking, jumping) would not always turn out successful, and that the best images result when the band is not moving around, when the lighting is low key, and the flash is disabled. Personally, image #65 is my favorite shot of the night, and I can see that image as the culmination of my night’s work, where all the elements of the show came together in perfection. The digital camera used was an Olympus 3030-Z and all images were originally shot in 1280x960 resolution in the SQ1 mode.
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