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"I would hate to think everybody was into U2 for 'deep' and 'meaningful' reasons. We're a noisy rock 'n' roll band." — Bono



by Mike Kavanagh

Set List

Vertigo (Take one)
All Because Of You
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own
City Of Blinding Lights
Original Of The Species
Shes A Mystery To Me
Beautiful Day
I Will Follow
-
Out Of Control
Vertigo (Take two)

Sometime last week, I began to hear and see rumors of a secret U2 show taking place somewhere in New York on Monday November 22. There was nothing really concrete, just hearsay here and there.

Then, suddenly, a solid lead: there was a concert being planned for Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village around 2 PM. Next time I logged on, the venue had changed to Empire-Fulton Ferry Park in Brooklyn. All the while, there was never any confirmation that the band in question really was U2.

It seemed to make sense. After all, U2 was in New York, scheduled to play Saturday Night Live on the 20th. It was after that performance that things began to fall into place. A woman who attended the SNL broadcast posted on a U2 fansite message board that as she waved and thanked Bono at the end of the show, he shouted See you in Brooklyn on Monday!

Well, that was a huge clue right there. I began to scour the net, looking for details. Finally, early Sunday evening, I found a site, 1iota.com that was registering people for a Surprise Performance by one of the Biggest Bands In The World at Empire-Fulton Ferry Park. I registered and applied for four tickets. Imagine my delight when I received a confirmation email with instructions for how to print out my e-ticket. I count myself quite lucky, as it was later reported on multiple U2 fansites that many fans over the age of 30 were being turned away. Apparently, the show was being presented by MTV, and they have a certain idea of whom they want in the crowd. That just wreaks of age-discrimination, and once U2 got wind of this, the policy was abandoned. The event was made open to the public, however there was preference given to those who had printed out tickets.

E-ticket in hand, I began to call those family and friends who share my love for U2. Given the late hour, all but one were forced to decline my invitation for various reasons. Only Joel, who was in the middle of a twelve- hour shift at work decided to chance the fatigue and join me in my musical quest.

So it was that on only five hours sleep out of the last forty-eight, Joel arrived at my door, ready to head to Brooklyn. No sleep til Brooklyn indeed. In fact, Joel was such a trooper that he didnt even doze until we were on our way back home!

Anyway, we shoved off shortly before 11 AM, stopped for gas, and proceeded to make absolutely fantastic time. We followed the directions I got from AAA, which led us right to the gate of the park. The time was 1:05 PM. Seeing that there was no place to park nearby, we drove up six blocks looking for street parking, but found none. We finally settled on a garage that would ultimately cost us $18 for just under five hours!

We started down Henry St. towards the park when we were approached by a college-aged girl whom, upon seeing Joel dressed in his kilt made the correct assumption that we were headed for the show. She asked if we knew where we were going, and if so, could she tag along. Seeing as she was alone, and that we kinda did know where we were going, we took her under our wing, and the three of us continued towards Old Fulton Street. We soon found out that her name was Katherine and that she was a grad student at NYU. She was on her way to work this morning when she heard about the concert and decided that she needed to call in sick. As we got closer, the crowd began to thicken. Since I had printed out a ticket for four, I offered Katherine one of the extra spots, which she gratefully accepted.

It was quickly apparent that there were more people in line than there was space in the park. The organizers had divided everyone into two lines; those with e-tickets and those without. As we were standing in line, I saw a guy who looked to be by himself being directed to the ticketless line. I called out to him, and asked if he was indeed alone. He explained that he was. I said, Not anymore. Youre with us now. He got the hugest smile on his face. It really felt good to hook someone up like that, not once, but twice. This gents name was Ivan, and he was originally from Lyon, France, but was now working in New York. Hes a big Olympique Lyonnais supporter, but also follows the Premiership. We were able to talk football for at least an hour! It was during this time that we also befriended the couple behind us in line. Raj, from Boston, and Francesca, from Florida, had also called out of work to come to Brooklyn. Raj had noticed my name on my e-ticket and introduced himself by explaining that his best friend from grade school was named Mike Kavanagh. Francesca, as it turns out, is a big fan of Serie A, and so she joined in with Ivan and I as we talked football.

Minutes turned into hours, and we continued to wait in line. The situation was degrading by the minute as more and more people began to show up. The cops began putting up barracades, in an effort to block out the waves of late-comers. Having been in line for almost two hours at this point, at 3:30 PM, all of us were beginning to become a bit anxious. This was especially true as another line formed to our left, and these people were actually being let in! Joel found out that these were people who had had their e-tickets confirmed. I couldnt believe it, we were waiting in line to wait in line! I was starting to get annoyed, when all of a sudden we were let in!

As we rushed in to find the best spot, camera men and women were all over the place, documenting everything. Joel headed straight for one, determined to be caught on television while wearing his kilt. Circumnavigating the camera people and the mud pits, we settled on nice piece of ground about thirty yards from the stage. The stage was set up on the shore of the East River between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. With Manhattan as a backdrop, it was a breathtaking view, and a perfect place for a concert.

Around 4 PM, someone in the crowd noticed a slow-moving tractor trailer making its way across the Manhattan Bridge to our right. As we later found out, U2 had been riding the trailer all through lower Manhattan as part of the shooting of the video for their next single, All Because Of You. Cheers went up through the crowd as the truck drove by, and it was at this point that a rep from MTV took the stage. She explained that yes, that was U2 on the truck, and that they would be arriving shortly to play a thirty-minute set. The purpose of the set was for a concert video that would be airing on MTV on December 8th. She asked us to cheer as if the band were closer so that the two crane cameras could get some good footage of the crowd. So, scream we did.

At 4:15, another man took the mic, and assured us that the band had arrived and would be playing within fifteen minutes. He was almost right. At 4:42, as the lights began to twinkle on the Brooklyn Bridge and in the Manhattan skyline behind it, U2 took the stage.

What an absolutely amazing, amazing experience.

Bono and the boys dove head first into Vertigo, and then came right back with All Because of You. Two great singles that really got the crowd pumped.

After All Because Of You, Bono yelled, Brooklyn, youve just been Jammed! Im assuming he was referring to the fact that this concert will be featured on the MTV concert series, MTV Jams. Bono then introduced Miracle Drug. He told the story of a paraplegic classmate who, after years of silence, decided to take a chance and have a device attached to his head that would allow him to type. The man proceeded to write an award-winning collection of poems. Its a fantastic song for a truly inspirational tale.

Next was Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own. I had read that this song was pretty much a conversation between Bono and his father, Bob, who had passed away in 2001. Its an absolultely beautiful song. While introducing it, Bono explained that he believes that the dead leave gifts for their loved ones after theyve gone, and his father blessed him by allowing him to hit notes with his voice that he hasnt been able reach in over a decade. As the band began to play, he said, OK Bob, here we go, dont f**k up now! I absolutely love this song, and it is high in the running for favorite on the new album.

City of Blinding Lights apparently has a few meanings. Bono explained that at one level, its about the bands love for New York, but also about lost innocence. Somehow, I think that the two probably go hand in hand! City is a great song, and with Manhattan in the background, it was truly magical.

The band paused for a moment as Bono was equipped with a guitar. He then introduced Original Of The Species, which elicited a cheer from the crowd. Bono stopped, looked at the crowd inquisitively, and said, How do you know this sh*t? This of course led to another loud cheer. Bono began laughing and pointed to someone in the crowd. Edge, he said, I think we found the guy that stole that CD! The band shared a quick laugh, then proceeded to send chills through the crowd with an absolutely gorgeous rendition of whats sure to become a classic.

Next we were treated to the rarity, Shes A Mystery To Me. This is a very simple song that was written during the Joshua Tree sessions. I believe it was recorded with Roy Orbison and is on one of his albums, but dont quote me on that.

Beautiful Day followed, and it really has become a sing-along in the four years since its release. Not one soul in attendence could be seen not singing, and Bono took notice, holding the mic out over the crowd for large portions of the chorus.

The set was wrapped up with I Will Follow. I noticed that this was the same song they chose to play to close Saturday Night Live. If it does turn out to be a set closer, its an absolutely great choice, as it really underscores the whole history of the band, from 1979 to now.

Having been promised only thirty minutes, we had already been blessed with forty-five minutes of music when the band left the stage. Of course, no one wanted to leave, and soon, the distinctive chorus of 40″ began to rise up from the crowd. How long to sing this song?

The answer it turns out, was not very long at all, because soon, Edge, Larry, Adam and Bono came back out and ripped into Out Of Control. The bands first single, this was another crowd pleaser, and Bono in particular seemed to really enjoy himself during this one.

As the song ended, Bono shouted One more, and this ones for us! It was an encore of Vertigo, and this time it seemed as if it was played with even more ferocity than it had just an hour earlier.

Three minutes or so later, it was all done. The boys took their bows, and thanked everyone for coming. As we filed out back into the streets of Brooklyn, the MTV rep shouted over our heads, Make sure to tune in on December 8th, to see yourselves on TV!

At 5:45 PM, I still had designs on making it to work by 8. Joel and I quickly said goodbye to Katherine and Ivan, and promised to send pictures via email. If you havent already checked them out, click here.

We walked down the promenade along the East River, and Joel had me take another shot of him in his kilt against the backdrop of the New York skyline. We were back in the car by 5:55, and were making great time until we got to Staten Island. There we got stuck for a while, which meant I was going to be late for work. UGGH. I called my boss and explained that I was on my way back from New York and had gotten stuck in traffic. I anticipated that Id be at work by 9. I did better than that. I rolled in at 8:45. Ive just got to hold on until 8:15 AM, and then Ill sleep like a baby, with visions of Bonos, Larrys, Adams, and Edges dancing in my head.

It was a beautiful day, dont let it get away.

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