It will always mean “U2 is coming!”
As soon as that song came on the loudspeakers at the MGM Grand Arena, the veteran U2 concert-goers leaped to their feet. They knew that “Wake Up” is the last song played before the band comes onstage.
As the lights went down, we swayed and sang … waiting for our boys.
The “boys” are all in their early forties now. They belong to me … my generation. We grew up together.
I don’t understand people who want to bash Bono. All the man wants to do is make music and try to save lives. Literally. Why is that worthy of contempt? Even if you don’t like his music, why disparage his desire to help the poor?
As we ate dinner tonight, my son heard me joking to my husband about Bono trying to save the world. “Bono’s trying to save the world? What does that mean?”
Here’s how I explained it to my eight-year-old:
“Bono is a rock star. Most rock stars make a lot of money, and some of them really like spending their money on things like fancy clothes and cars and vacations. They don’t have to do anything else in life except make music.
“But some rock stars – like Bono – want to do things to help people who have no money or food or medicine. There are people in other countries who get sick and die because they can’t afford the right medicine. Lots and lots of people!
“Some people pay attention to rock stars just because they’re famous. Some rock stars say things like, ‘I don’t eat meat,’ or ‘I don’t like the President,’ and people think that’s important. Bono says, ‘Please help poor people.’ He’s hoping that other people will listen to him and want to help.”
It’s that simple. And this is a man so self-deprecating that he says, “Everyone is sick of Bono, even me … and I am Bono!” He’s more focused on spreading his message than polishing up his image. I’m not saying he doesn’t like the trappings his wealth buys for him … but at least his vision extends beyond material goods.
Thank you for listening.
*steps off soapbox*
At 5:00 p.m. Friday night, we had no tickets for the U2 show.
L, M, and I had spent hours that day checking online and making phone calls trying to secure tickets for that night. We were entering the Slough of Despond. The online broker prices were offering crappy seats for outrageous prices, and when even those tickets started disappearing, we were dismayed that we’d lost them! We decided to get ready for the evening as if we did have tickets … then venture out to Scalper-Land.
M got in the shower. L and I sprawled on the beds with our dejection pressing down on us. At 5:03 the phone rang. Weird. Who would call that number instead of our cell phones?
“Is L there?”
I handed the phone to L. Within seconds she was screaming, “No fucking way!!!”
I started screaming and performing interpretive euphoria on the bed.
M screamed from the shower, “What?! What?! Someone tell me what the screaming is about!”
It was L’s original long-shot connection coming through from our ancient history days at the record company. Three tickets were waiting for us at will-call. I guess at 5 p.m. the band releases its unused tickets. Thus our guy achieved hooked-up-ness. And all we had to pay was face value. And! They were the band’s tickets! The seats were great!!!
Long story short: we went to the concert and screamed and sang and danced the whole time.
And listen to this testimony, people: we looked pretty hot for three suburban mommies in their early 40’s. Word.
But it doesn’t end there.
Saturday evening we were milling around the hotel lobby, trying to decide where to eat. I stopped at the U2 kiosk to buy a t-shirt for my son. Then we vacillated a bit more about dinner. While we were dithering, two women approached us, saying, “Were you guys at the concert last night?” (They had recognized M, if you can believe it. She has a distinctive look.) “Do you want to go to the show tonight? We have three tickets we can’t use.”
We were skeptical. But they were just fans like us whose friends hadn’t been able to make it. The seats weren’t together … but there were three.
We almost fainted from our good fortune. L wanted to go gamble immediately, while luck was raining down on us.
We ate dinner, we changed clothes, and we took our radiant selves to the show. (Edited to add: And we DID get to sit together that second night, despite our seats being in different places!!)
If we thought Friday’s show was good, we soon realized that Bono was a man on fire for Saturday’s show.
Both nights they opened with “City of Blinding Lights” – my son’s favorite. Both nights they also performed “Miss Sarajevo,” a song with an Italian stanza in the middle of it – first performed by Luciano Pavarotti. Both nights Bono nailed those shiverybeautiful notes. I had to clutch my heart each time. (Bono’s father liked to sing opera – he was a tenor. He died in 2001. Bono is convinced that his father’s spirit sings through him now … Bono could never reach those notes before.)
Really, I could go on and on. We were ecstatic. We were vertiginous. We were inside the music. We held each other’s hands so tightly that we were One Beating Heart of Joy.
M, L, and I separated to our three corners of the continent yesterday, vowing that it would not be fourteen years before we reunited.
My email to them this morning read: “Thank you for reminding me that I am more than a middle-aged working mom in Portland, Oregon.”