The year was 1986. I had yet to shed even the first bit of fear and shame which had been instilled early in my life. I was taking a class in the theater department from a beloved prof who was challenging some of my dearly-held beliefs.
As part of the experience of my learnings, Greg and I lined up at 6am outside the then Rosemont Horizon to buy tickets for the U2 concert which would be in a few weeks. This was a huge deal for me. I hadn’t gone too many concerts (fear! shame!) outside the Christian contemporary genre, so this was pretty far outside my comfort zone. (Imagine that, kiddies. We went to the actual venue to buy our tickets and we paid the face value of the ticket. No TicketMaster fees! No printing at home! No scanning anything! No cell phones then!)
U2’s venues back then were rather smaller and the extravaganzas that happened in later tours had not yet begun. On a simple stage, unadorned beyond lights and some smoke, with the Horizon’s lights completely extinguished on April 29, 1987, the concert began with those unforgettable organ chords of “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
Greg had introduced me to the band soon after we meet in 1982. I wasn’t too sure about that “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” song, which, if I’m remembering right, was their first big hit. (Blood! Fear! Shame!) But I did love the Joshua Tree album, and it was the first leg of the Joshua Tree tour in April, 1987 when we first saw them.
Last night, at a different Chicago venue, was my 7th time to see them; this time during the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour.
U2 are quite the band, having stuck together for over 30 years as mates, partners, and band members. In this day and age, I think that is a major accomplishment. Major. Besides staying friends and partners for all these years, each of them also has a long-term marriage, with Bono having married Ali while they were still in their teens. Ali was in the house last night, and he sang a couple of songs dedicated to her, (Song for Someone), and All I Want is You). Also major.
My ears are still ringing. There were three locations where the band sang, with the main stage to our left.
Valerie and I were standing along the rail between the i and the e stages. We could see the band great when they were on the walkway between stages, and we could see them pretty well on the e stage, but we were pretty far back from the i stage. When I turned my head to see them on the main stage, the sound pierced my right ear, so I had to actually cover my ears for parts of it! I don’t think it was any louder than a normal concert, but something about the location of the sound and the condition of my fine ears combined to make the sound too loud.
Fortunately, they also performed directly in front of me, and on the stage to the right. My ears did much better when they were in those locations.
If you’re not a U2 fan, I’ll just tell you that there are many people, including myself, who have been following the band for 30 years. The guy behind us in line had multiple U2 tattoos and was jubilant as he explained how he had gotten Bono’s attention by quoting the full text of the partial quote he had on the underside of his bicep. Maybe it’s like this with other bands — I don’t know — but the people who love U2 loooooooove U2.
I found the setlist online at tours.atu2.com.
Venue: United Center
Location: Chicago, IL United States
- The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
- Gloria, Gloria (Van Morrison) (snippet)
- I Will Follow
- Iris (Hold Me Close)
- Cedarwood Road
- Song For Someone
- Sunday Bloody Sunday, When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet)
- Raised By Wolves
- Until The End Of The World, She’s A Rainbow (snippet)
- Even Better Than The Real Thing
- Mysterious Ways, Young Americans (snippet)
- Desire, La Bamba (snippet), Julia (snippet)
- Lucifer’s Hands
- Every Breaking Wave
- Bullet The Blue Sky, 19 (snippet)
- The Hands That Built America (snippet), Pride
- Beautiful Day, Two Hearts Beat As One (snippet)
- All I Want Is You
- With Or Without You, Love Will Tear Us Apart (snippet)
- City Of Blinding Lights
- Mother And Child Reunion (snippet), Where The Streets Have No Name, California (There Is No End To Love) (snippet)
- One, Invisible (snippet)
I noted that the second to last encore last night was the very first song I’d ever heard them play in concert, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Last night, when those opening chords began, the crowd roared with a deeply felt love of not only the song, but also memories associated with that song, the band, the individual players, their musicianship, the influence they have used for the good. For me, it kinda felt like a complete circle.
The final encore was their brilliant song, One, which just felt like the dot on the i, the cross of the t, the last (final?) flourish on my U2 concert experiences. With the 360 tour (2009-2010), after one taste, I HAD to go again and ended up going to four different locations on that tour. I suppose it’s possible they will do more tours after this one, but it has got to be hard on their families to be apart for so long and they’ve been doing it for a long time. Last night may have been my last U2 concert. I don’t know. We’ll see. But I’ll always love them.