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"The emotions that are on this record are very abstract, out of focus, fragmented, its words are gray. But that is exactly what it should be." — Bono, on War

by Julie Parker

Round #2! And what a night to remember! First off, we had not been to Jax in a long time, and got lost going to the stadium, but we had left Orlando early and found our way there by dead reckoning ("That way! I see the lights and the set!") in plenty of time.

Alltel Stadium is easily the finest facility in the entire state. We had club seats, so we went in through that entrance. What a beautiful, impressive building! Lots of bathrooms, padded stadium seats, a gorgeous concourse and layout. Jacksonville has every right to be proud.

We settled into our seats about 20 minutes before U2 started. (We skipped Third Eye Blind, who we found to be generally unappealing when they opened in Tampa.) Once again, we were lucky enough to be right near where the band came by on their way to the stage. The couples sitting on either side of us got into a war of words right before the show, and this escalated until the men started to fight about a third of the way into the show.(Meanwhile, we are crouching in the middle of this fracas, trying not to get hit.) Finally, all four of them were ejected from the stadium by security. After that, it was much more pleasant. Our crowd got a chant of "Edge! Edge! Edge!" going while the band was on the satellite stage, and he grinned and waved at us. About halfway through the show it started to rain steadily, but no one was leaving, least of all the band. They did not slow down one bit - the set was around 2:10, almost the identical length of the Tampa show.

It was as if they didn't notice the weather. The difference in the crowd behavior between Tampa and Jax was quite noticeable. In Tampa, two or three jerks threw full beer cups at the band; once when they were entering the stadium, and again when they were on stage. And Bono just had to comment on "the inordinate number of ladies' undergarments" being tossed his way. In Jax there were no beers thrown but lots of flowers, a couple of cigars, and an Irish flag which someone had painted "U2" on that Bono carefully folded and put in his jacket.

When the mirrorball lemon opened on the satellite stage and the crowd caught sight of the band wearing custom Jaguars jerseys, they went nuts. During "Velvet Dress", it seemed that Bono would not be dancing with anyone that night, but toward the end of the song the crowd literally passed a girl over their heads up to the stage. He took off the jersey and put it on her, and they danced for about the last :30 of the song, following which she left the stage in a daze wearing the jersey (that would have been my reaction, too).

The sound mix was much better this night, and the rain seemed to inspire the band, because the encore was the Beatles' "Rain" instead of "Wake Up Dead Man" - a very proper ending to the night, although some in the crowd did not seem to recognize the song. (Those of us who did recognize it sang along with gusto.) U2 played it as if it was part of the regular set, and it made the show that much more special.

Well, it was big. And expensive. But it was well worth the waiting, and the drive, and everything else. (To the fan who commented in his review, about two months into the tour, about how "you wait so long for the show, and it is over so soon" - try waiting nine months!) Don't let anyone tell you that U2 has "sold out". That is not true. In listening to the old songs juxtaposed with the new, it all made perfect sense, and it all fit together. Bands have to go in new directions to grow, but the destination - to find meaning and connection through the music - remains a constant. DO NOT miss this show if you can help it. You may never see its like again, and that would be a shame. I feel bad for those who were disappointed by this tour. As a relatively new fan, with no set expectations, I was blown away. As a longtime fan, my husband was well satisfied. To those of you yet to see your show, we envy you. We can't wait for the next tour, whenever that is. Because wherever this band goes musically, we will follow. And next time, we will be going to more shows!

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