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To carry each other is not a burden at all but a kind of privilege.-- Bono, 2004

by Big CYC

The Vertigo finale was a month ago. I still think about the show every day.

By way of background, Im a 35-year-old lawyer who defines the time periods of his life by what was happening then with U2 and Pearl Jam: High school was the Joshua Tree/Rattle and Hum Era; college, the Achtung and Ten Years; and the late 90s/early 2000s were when us loyalists soldiered through PopMart, No Code and (gasp!) Binaurual. We stayed when everyone else left the party. Now everyone is coming back.

Over the past decade Ive spent a pretty ridiculous percentage of my discretionary income traveling to see U2 and Pearl Jam. In a way, its been a quest to recapture the feeling I had when I saw U2 my first concert ever in Worcester, Massachusetts on May 2, 1987.

The quest officially ended in Honolulu, December 9, 2006; the best show of my life. There I was on my first-ever trip to the islands with my younger brother, a guitarist, and two great friends who share the same passion about U2 and PJ that I do. My music friends. You know what I meanthe U2 and Pearl Jam hard core were there, as Bono put it, for a tribal gathering of the faithful.

A few highlights:

Eddie Vedder! How fine it was to see Eddie and the rest of the band get such a rapturous reception from a mostly U2 crowd of many whom had never before seen the Mighty Jam live in concert. The mere fact that a band as important as Pearl Jam was happy to play the opening slot tells you all you need to know about the group: It aint about pride or ego, its about delivering something special, every night, for the fans. The 55-minute set covered stadium-friendly rousersAlive, Corduroy, Baba OReillyas well as the elegiac Hawaii 78 and the classic cover, Crazy Mary. Ed made one of the most ridiculous stage moves Ive ever seen, vaulting off the top of a speaker after a running start after returning from an excursion out on the B-stage to drink it down and pass it around. When Eddie let loose for the Rockin in the Free World encore with U2, the experience barreled forward to a whole new level of live rock hysteria: it was as if a U2 had been joined onstage by a nuclear missile.

As for Bono: voice cracking during the tribute to his Dad, Sometimes You Cant Make it on Your Own; sprinkling the Hawaii Five-O Theme just perfectly into the Vertigo lyrics; somehow seeming as pure as ever despite unleashing every one of his poseur tricks (pulling kids, fans, wannabe musicians on stage; marching around with the American flag; prisoner-of-war histrionics during Bullet the Blue Sky; exploding in anger when Billie Joes Armstrong mic didnt work during Billies Saints appearance). And . . . the biggest thrill of the night . . . during the U2d-out Rockin in the Free World, Eddie Vedder improvising a We Love the Edge chorus, with 47,000 fans singing along to the humble delight of our beloved Gibson-wielding savant.

Thanks to my brother and my life-long friends for keeping the U2/PJ fire burning. Hawaii 06 wont ever be forgotten.

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