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"I look more like an artisan than an artist. I have these big hands and this pointed face. Where's the glamour in all that?" — Bono

by Phil Romans

Friday October 19th, 6:45 AM ish

I pull up to the GA line outside of the Baltimore arena, my ex roommate gets out along with two friends who made it from Portland, OR. The ex roommate has never been to a U2 concert and wants to figure out why I went to 12 of them this summer. That, and I gave him the GA ticket as a Christmas/B-day gift. They get into line with the chairs and cooler, and get the numbers and spot that we will occupy for about the next 11 hours or so. We wind up with numbers 181-184...this after arriving at 6:45 am-ish. It is much cooler than I expected, especially with our section of line in the shade most of the day. The hype is true: this leg is going to be much different for entering the Heart than any other. By 7:30 a.m. there are 205 people in line. We hunker down and wait. Well, my friends do. I go and make a visit to see how many people I know in line. I expect to know about, say, half the GA line. (No lie)

Highlights from waiting:
Revisiting with old friends from past concerts
Laughing at the full mattresses people used to sleep on the street with
Amazed at the amount of trash people cant pick up
Watching the crew unload the trucks in the warm sun and chatting with friends as it was done
Hanging out at the entrance to the arena for the band, but never really expecting to meet the band. (And yes, I can live without ever meeting themand no, I havent)
Getting in line and waiting all day, just for that 15-minute time frame from the time the doors open until you have claimed your spot. Explain to me again why we do this?!
Learning that Garbage was not opening. The rumors flew: maybe the Dalton brothers?!
Tony, aka Bonos clone, freaking everyone out with how much he looks like Bono, sitting there talking to the GA line.

Finally 5:00 p.m. rolls around and the line is buzzing, complete with potential line crashers. This GA line gets something new: up to about the 205th person, they pre-do GA wrist bands. Not sure why. This only worries everyone behind number 205. Then finally we are moving, and in we go. I get a light pad down, and then off down the corridor. There is only one entrance to the floor. I knew the drilllook for the Heart gate line that is smaller. (For some reason, most people go left. I think it is an accident herding instinct or something.) As I was walking to the floor, I spot Paul McGuiness, and shout Thank you, Paul!! He turns and waves as I move quickly past him. I try my best to wait up for the other three, but I know if I get in there I can save them a spot on a piece of the rail, Rashas and Melodies favorite being the right side of the Heart, about 2/3 of the way back. (Bono seems to favor this side.)
Graham Parker comes on, and as I had taunted the group name for the last hour or so, I wasnt expecting much. As it turns out, he is pretty darn good. They even do Sheena is a Punk Rocker which I think someone said he wrote. It was a short set, as they had another gig afterward. I spot Paul McGuiness in the heart, so this time I ask for his autograph on my ticket stub. Just so I can remind myself that U2 did indeed rock Baltimore.
Then the Beatles songs come onthe place starts to rock, then the Influx mix of "Elevation."

The moment has arrived.

Ever since I had heard that U2 would play Baltimore, I hadn't believed anyone until they are on stage and playing and, well, it finally happens.

I think the term I dont think the word wow really comes close to what happened, best describes what occurs with 12,000 friends on this night.

Even now, three days after the concert, there is too much floating in my head to even try to get it all downbut here is a list of my impressions
The Baltimore Arena is small, but felt like a church that night.
When Bono talked about "Out of Control" like he was 18, and described how it was the first single off their demo, I lost it. It was the perfect version of that song; he even kicked the cup of water. Mr. Record Executive, I just came to London with my 16-year-old girlfriendand I have THREE songs for you
"Kite" was beautiful, dedicated to Alis father who was in attendance. I thought this song was written for my kids, but I think it was written by my dad. And there is a man here who treated me like his own son
"Angel of Harlem" had a different feel with Larry not fully joining in until halfway.
Halfway through the concert, my ex-roommate turns to me and goes I see the light. Being able to share U2 with good friends, having them understand you are not crazy, makes it all worth while
Rob, my good man, you on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," ROCKED THE HOUSE. I could not believe they were doing a full band version of that song, nearly perfect. Waves of joyLove was in the house.
"Staring at the Sun" took on a completely different view after hearing it live.
"Please," even with the lyrics butchered, felt good. Felt good to go into "Streets" like on PopMart.
I wasnt sure how "Bullet" would be received, but it still worked.
"New York" was almost not even the same song from the album. Sure, the music was the same, but the lyrics have now turned into almost a rap with all the changes.
Bonos words about tolerance before "One" pretty well struck a vast accord with everyone there.
"Walk On" means so much more now as a closer than it did when I heard it on opening night back in March. My review stated it left me pumped up and I think that is EXACTLY how we needed to feel

I would like to thank Rashas and Melodie for traveling across the country, crashing at my place and putting up with Baltimore for two days. Hope you enjoyed yourselves and an East Coast show.

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