"I can't look at the audience as a mass. It disturbs me. I have to look for individuals."
Like A Video: I Still Haven't Found ... (New York City, MSG8 2015)
August 26, 2015
[Ed. note: This is the 29th in a series of essays by the @U2 staff about U2-related visuals and videos. Some essays may be informational and educational, while others may be more personal.]
I became a U2 fan during The Joshua Tree era when I was still a kid. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was probably one of the first U2 songs I listened to. They caught me with this brilliant album. After so many years, now I’m writing about this song on @U2, which I never imagined could happen because I live in Brazil. As a member of the site I’ve always admired, it’s an honor and a pleasure to share my views with you.
I’ve been following the whole Innocence + Experience tour. Unfortunately, not in person, but online. Thanks to great friends and technology, fans can share their experiences, feelings, photos, videos, etc. Since the first U2 show of eight at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, we heard rumors about Bruce Springsteen joining U2 on the stage. My first thought was that it would be something extraordinary if it was true, and fans all around the world started getting excited about it. It happened on the last night, but I have to say it couldn’t be a better way to close the tour’s first leg in North America.
At the beginning, Bono dedicated the song to Springsteen: “Someone who gave us a reason to be a band, gave us a reason to continue to be a band, gave us a level we could never reach but always aspire to.” In many performances of “I Still Haven’t Found” on this tour, Bono confessed that this song was the answer to why the band is still here after all these years. From my perspective, it’s all related. Like Steve Stockman explains in his book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey Of U2, the band is honest speaking about their doubts, imperfections and failures. In both speeches, Bono shows how humble they are to accept those things and assume that they’re still trying to be better as a band and individually.
Soon, a second microphone appeared on the stage. We were sure that was the moment we were all waiting for. I don’t know if everyone noticed, but Bono changed microphones. He gave his mic to Bruce, and with this gesture he said Springsteen should be the No. 1. The band all expressed their respect and admiration for the Boss.
Springsteen was one of the U2’s guests to replace Bono in the show “A (RED) Thank You presented by Bank of America” on World AIDS Day in 2014. Honestly, it wasn’t so pleasant to watch their performance. In my opinion, U2 are formed by four Irish men who are simply irreplaceable. That show proved that the “magic” happens only with Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry together. I think Springsteen was the best substitute of the night, however. So he was the perfect surprise guest to perform during the last show of the tour in U.S.
“Earlier, when I busted myself up here in the city, we had a gig in Times Square for (RED) and this man showed up and delivered. The chairman, the boss Mr. Bruce Springsteen,” Bono introduced him at Madison Square Garden. I got chills when I heard the first chords, and I was just watching it through my computer at home — I wish I had been there! To make it better, Bono let the audience sing the first verses of the song. That’s one of best moments in touring — when we can see the connection (even not being in the venue) between the band and the crowd. They become one, like a real communion, and it’s the main reason why a live concert is so amazing and U2 show how great they are.
I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you, only to be with you
I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you, only to be with you
We all know that the beginning of the Innocence + Experience was not easy. The U2 family lost the Rev. Jack Heaslip and Larry Mullen Sr. just a few days before the tour kickoff, and Dennis Sheehan in Los Angeles. The band was united even more by continuing with the tour, bringing an incredible spectacle to the fans. They’ve had to carry on through many difficulties, but I believe their faith was an important tool. “If there exists a rock band that used spirituality and faith as guiding principles in its career without being branded a Christian band, it must be U2. It is obvious that these two principles are essential to the band’s members,” Visnja Cogan wrote in her book U2: An Irish Phenomenon.
I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one
But yes, I’m still running
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame, oh my shame
You know I believe it
Music is not concrete — it’s a feeling. You can’t touch it; you have to feel. U2 take their audience to a higher level with elements of joy, hope and communion. In U2: The Stories Behind Every Song, Niall Stokes highlights a Bono quote from Rolling Stone magazine. “‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ is an anthem of doubt more than faith.” Visnja Cogan writes: “I believe U2 have indeed been on a spiritual journey but also on a spiritual quest, a quest that is not over. What is interesting is the lack of certainty and the doubt, played in front of millions of witnesses. That part of U2 makes them human.” That’s why I think U2’s music is so powerful and touching. They’re truly honest and genuine and are able to transfer it to the fans.
The vibe in MSG was so good that when “Stand By Me” came next, the energy was even higher, with the crowd singing it out loud. What a moment! “That kid’s a star,” Bono said when Springsteen left the stage. “That’s the greatest gift ever!”
It was a gift not only for the band but for all U2 fans. Thank you, guys, for this unique celebration!
(c) @U2/Bottini, 2015