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"The [Joshua Tree] songs really belie the image of the group as sort of flag wavers with anthems. I think each is a lot more about frailty, fragility, and brokenness than about being affirmative or faithful." — Bono

by Alex Boggs

I was a freshman at Ohio State when U2 played Cleveland's Metropolitan Stadium on the shores of Lake Erie. It was my second chance to see the band live, the previous time being at Richfield Colosseum in 1985. By this time I had been a fan for some five years (a lifetime in music for a teenager) and considered myself a die hard. In fact, I almost didn't want to go to this show because of my then disdain for "Joshua Tree". To me, at the time, that album seemed like a stumble in the wrong direction from what made them special to me - their Irishness, their post-punk swagger and the musical inroads they made with "Unforgettable Fire". It was disheartening to hear my musical heroes make what was essentially an American tribute album. I have since come to grips with the beauty and genius of "Joshua Tree" and include it among my favorite albums of all-time...but not back in '87.

All that being said, this particular show remains one of the most memorable concerts of my life; partly due to the atmosphere (Metropolitan Stadium was a MASSIVE place and it was about 40 degrees outside), partly due to the people I was with (best friends, ex-girlfriend, sister), but mostly because of the show the band put on that night. Musically top-notch: from the quality of the sound outdoors, to the musicianship. From the opener "Streets" - with its haunting synth and red wall of light - to the always soothing "40", this was a great show. I remember being impressed by the clarity of Larry's hi-hats during the intro to "Bullet" and the sheer power of the bass rumbling through "Exit" (it's good when the bass makes your shirt move and your chest hurt!). But the thing I remember most about this show was the Autumn sky opening up and a cold, cold rain beginning to fall during "October". And as they segued into "New Year's Day" I can still remember looking up at the sky, rain pelting my face, and feeling a sort of spiritual calmness. It couldn't have been timed any better. Still get the shivers...

I've seen them since but never as satisfying.

Oh yeah, almost forgot...Los Lobos ROCKED "La Bamba" that night...and "Little Steven" Van Zandt is a much better actor than band leader (sorry, Sil).

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