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.
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.
In 1991, Wim Wenders released the film “Until the End of the World”. I am not a movie person by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a music person, and in 1991, I was a label manager for Warner Bros. Records. Warner Brothers released the soundtrack, and an advance cassette of the soundtrack landed on my desk, introducing me to art that would make an indelible impression on me.
It seemed like the most improbable New York thing, this 3pm announcement as I come out of a meeting that U2 are performing — with Bruce Springsteen! — in Times Square a few hours from now. I text friends. I make up setlists on Twitter. I go through an executive presentation until 5:40, at which point I say, “Can we wrap this up? Bruce and U2 are playing in Times Square, I need to get a move on.”
Definitely did not see this one coming last night!
I am so divided on this cover of the song. I think she starts off strong and think the initial attitude and perspective work, but then feel like the performance loses its way a little bit–and not just because of the lyric changes, or that she forgets the words at one point. I think it’s that I just want it to work so incredibly badly that I will forgive it a million sins.
More on the show later.
Even I am not immune to the year-end listing process. Here’s my list of favorite/best shows of 2011. It’s so skewed as to representative of nothing except my particular universe – but it’s not like I’m pretending that 2012 isn’t going to be a laundry list of Springsteen and Afghan Whigs shows.
I care a lot about visiting the various sites of rock and roll history, whether it’s the former site of the Cavern Club or the Finsbury Park Astoria or the Palladium or 213 Bowery or the bank that used to be the Fillmore East. But clearly I am close to something very much resembling insanity to wake up at 6 a.m. in Las Vegas, rent a car, and head four hours into the desert to look for a dead tree.
Yes. We went looking for The Joshua Tree.
I remember Achtung Baby as the record where it was not just about what and who U2 were as it was about what and who they weren’t. At the time, people weren’t just U2 fans, you were either fans of the Joshua Tree– era U2 who didn’t love what was perceived as this sudden change, or you were the people who were starting to — not so much lose interest towards the end of that particular phase (including, by all accounts, the band themselves), but might have tired of some of it just a tad, and you loved Achtung Baby not because it was U2’s next album but because it was Achtung Baby. To me, it was closer to the era where they made their bones. For all of the insistence on noise rock influences and Einsturzende and their ilk, I heard the Stones at Nellcote, I heard Marc Bolan’s gold lame pants, I heard the Silver Factory, I heard the Bowie of Heroes, the Lou Reed of Transformer, the Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center. It was Manchester meets Motown.
It was iconic, it was ridiculous, it was groundbreaking. It was overwhelming and exciting – if you wanted to be overwhelmed and excited by all of the above, which I most certainly did.
It was inevitable, it being New Jersey, and it went on all night – adding “Promised Land” at the end of ISHFWILF, thanking Bruce for the loan of the hall, getting the crowd to “Bruuuuce” them. It was inevitable, and I knew it was coming, but when Bono went to the front of the stage and pulled out the sign – and that person had to have gotten online at the stroke of dawn to get that spot – it didn’t make it any easier, as he proceeded to dedicate “Moment of Surrender” to the E Street Band. And again, again, even with all of that, even though I knew it was going to happen, I’d seen the video, I’d heard the song files from Oakland, Bono invoking the last verse of “Jungleland” in New Jersey, across the parking lot where we stood and watched them all there not that long ago – well, goddammit, you learn from the best, you Irish bastard.