How to understand this blog

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So I will try to be brief. Ish.

Unfortunately that means this blog post will probably be full of adjectives like AMAZING! INCREDIBLE! AWESOME! instead of an attempt to explain why the things in question were AMAZING! INCREDIBLE! AWESOME! That's okay. Bear with me.

I went to the U2 concert on November 25 in Auckland, and was completely blown away.

Blown away, because I went to the concert almost exactly four years before in the same place, and thought I knew exactly what I was getting. I didn't.

Blown away, because I had thought I was getting over my silly adolescent U2 phase, although I still enjoyed their music. I didn't spend the weeks leading up to the concert psyching myself up or obsessing over what songs they may or may not play. I hardly got excited until the very evening of the concert. And then when the first chords played, this excitement came throbbing back into my veins all of a sudden, and I realised - I really love their music. I jumped up and down, I cheered and whistled, I was as happy clappy as the best of them.

The concert didn't necessarily start out so well. By the time you actually get there, after a tortuous public transport trip (I do not know how Auckland is going to cope when the rugby world cup hits them next year), you hear Jay Z, the support artist, playing ridiculously loudly and groan a little. Then you find out the stands your seats are in are temporary stands, and basically look like a bunch of scaffolding. Whenever people walk particularly loudly, they shake. Whenever people start stomping their feet during a Mexican wave, you have a minor panic attack as the stands tremble. "From Christchurch?" someone next to you sympathetically asks. "Yup," you reply. "I can't look at any type of building anymore without assessing them mentally for earthquake safety."

But once U2 starts playing... this all fades.

The show was incredible. The stage, lights, video, everything... mind-blowing.

The day before the concert, there was another explosion in the Pike River mine. The country was sorrowfully told that there was no chance the 29 miners trapped inside could still be alive. New Zealand is really feeling this one. We're a small country, this kind of stuff doesn't happen that often. We think we're in the first world, that we're invincible, that we can control everything - and then this happens.

Bono spoke. What he said was heartfelt, helpful and understanding. And then U2 played "One Tree Hill", which was written for their Kiwi friend Greg Carroll who died in Auckland, and now was dedicated to the 29 fallen. It was absolutely beautiful, and uplifting, and a fitting tribute to the dead. You can see some of it on this video.

The rest of the concert was amazing too. One of the things I really appreciated about not having been too excited beforehand is that I didn't try and figure out everything that would happen. So when songs came, they were a complete surprise, and I felt like I could really genuinely enjoy the onslaught of songs like Where The Streets Have No Name, part of the excitement of which is the sudden realisation that they are about to play it. It started with a verse of Amazing Grace before the opening chords, which have always been the most electrifying opening to a song that I've ever heard.

Here is my video of the beginning. Unfortunately I missed the verse of Amazing Grace:

The setlist as a whole to the concert can be found here, but I think those two songs were possibly my favourites, although I really did love everything they did. With Or Without You, a song which I have only just begun to appreciate, was a close runner-up to the other two songs, although being a single person I began to feel a little insecure at the number of couples cuddling up around me!

The concert finished with Moment of Surrender from their latest album, and with the crowd holding up their cellphones as candles. Pretttty.

And then we finished on an absolute high and left the stadium, to fight with maybe 60,000 other people to catch the trains out of Penrose Station. (Seriously, Auckland public transport people. How are you going to cope with a world cup if you think it's efficient to try and get that many people across a tiny railway bridge that fits maybe three-abreast? People will be crushed!) Oh well. That unpleasant experience is over now, but the memory of the concert remains!

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