I went to Paris for the opening show of the tour, on Arthur Rimbaud’s birthday. I will write a longer more personal piece on it soon (like tomorrow) but here’s my report for the Village Voice.
Two pieces in the Voice today: a review of the Television show in Brooklyn last night, and the one I’m particularly proud of, a guide to the (mostly vanished) landmarks mentioned in Patti Smith’s Just Kids.
Wanting to see U2 in an arena in Europe managed to connect nicely with wanting to spend time in Berlin, so we traveled to see two of the four shows at the Mercedes-Benz Arena at the end of September. The queue outside was very international, with Poles, Finns and Russians (and their vodka bottles) heavily dominating the line.
It all started in the spring of 2013, when we flew Air Berlin as a low-cost option to Scandinavia (recommended, btw). This meant changing plans at Tegel, not a big deal, except that the plane was late arriving and we missed our connection. Air Berlin put us on another flight, but it did make me check to see how often this happened, and if we might run into problems on the way back that could necessitate an overnight in Berlin. So, just in case, we sat down to write a quick list of things we wanted to see in Berlin. By the time we were done, we realized that we needed to go to Berlin some day. (Some context: I did visit the city for a few days back in the Fall of 1989. More later.)
I am very excited to be appearing at Brenna Erlich’s book launch Tuesday August 25th, talking about Tales of Extreme Fandom! I’ll be reading, along with Jason Diamond and Claire Beaudreault of the band Handjob Academy! More info & RSVP on Facebook!
The New York Mets are playing enjoyable baseball again. The New York Mets are in a pennant race. These two sentences seem improbable, given the nuclear winter Mets fans have endured these past few years, but yet, here we are, with the Mets at the top of the division while the Nationals are on the West Coast facing the likes of Kershaw, Greinke, and Bumgardner, and doing… not so well. The old concept of Triple Happiness (Mets win, Phillies lose, Braves lose) has changed.
U2’s Innocence and Experience Tour arrived in New York at the end of July for an eight-show run, the longest run the band had ever done in one place before. I’d opted in to four of the eight nights, justifying it by saying that eight shows in my own city would allow me to forgo the time and expense of traveling elsewhere in order to see more than one show. Some of you reading this will think I am insane; others will think me lightweight.
I travelled to Memphis a few weeks ago. It was amazing, and exceeded every expectation I had. I do not know how and why it took me so long to get here; over the years I have been led to believe that there wasn’t much to do or that it wasn’t worth my time. All I can say now is that I am so incredibly sad I had not been there before.
Seattle, and that fucking amazing, genius opening
Everybody wants to know what I think about Paul’s declaration onstage in Portugal that this was the band’s last show. I maintain that I’d like to wait until I hear a full tape or find a full video, or talk to someone at the show who had actually had some kind of history with the band, before descending into gloom and doom and donning sackcloth and ashes. He could mean it; he could have been kidding; he could be half serious.
NIGHT ONE: ECHOSTAGE, WASHINGTON, DC, MAY 8, 2015
Takin’ a ride, and its doing no goooood…
I am listening intently to Paul Westerberg belt out that line, letting his voice linger on the last word with some extra oomph. It is something that the other thousand or so audience members crowded into this converted warehouse/now EDM club on the outskirts of washington, DC may not notice, or care to notice; to them, it’s just a kick ass version of “Takin’ A Ride” and it reminds them of their college years or high school times or maybe this is a brand new memory, a memory they never thought they’d get to have, because they weren’t old enough the first time around. But I am here to pay attention, I am here for these extra details, I am here to make up for lost time, for the years I didn’t get to hear these songs sung and played over and over again. I am here because we didn’t get to watch our band grow and change and shift and get old with us in real time. I am also here to sing along at the top of my lungs, to feel what it’s like to recite words you know as well as your old phone number or your Mom’s birthday, to sing them alongside thousands of other people doing the exact same thing, whether for the first time or the 20th time.