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The final mark of greatness, I think, is emptiness. The least you need. That is true of music, painting, of anything. -- Bono


U2s Stage Presence Makes Us All A Little Taller

- July 27, 2011

by Candy Woodall

Hours before U2 took the stage, I had a conversation with Craig Anderson, who gave me the keys to the local rock universe. Anderson is the owner of ThePittsburghScene.com, a music-sharing website dedicated to the promotion of local artists.

While discussing why some bands are successful and others arent, Anderson indicated that sometimes it all comes down to stage presence. Someone once told me nobody wants to see anyone on stage whos 59. You have to be 10-foot tall, he said.

I couldnt ignore that Bono is about 59. But his stage presence has always been bigger than rock genres, political factions, global causes and the venues in which he performs. People always say Bono has a way of making people in the nose-bleeds feel like theyre front row, Anderson said.

Some have found his humanitarian efforts annoying, claiming he should just shut up and sing. But like Anderson said, When you have a message, you have a message.

So why should it surprise anyone that the lead singer of a bandthat has always had a messagewould incorporate Amnesty International into its show.

From a candlelight vigil to a couple next to me getting engaged to a stadium of fans rallying for something more than football, there was no shortage of inspiration in Heinz Field when U2 took the stage Tuesday night.

The band opened with several songs from Achtung Babyarguably the best album in the bands career. Even Better Than the Real Thing brought the crowd to its feet and kept it there through The Fly, Mysterious Ways and Until the End of the World.

Many favorites were included throughout the show and its two encores, including I Will Follow, Beautiful Day, City of Blinding Lights, One, With or Without You, Where the Streets Have No Name, Bad and many more. But two of the best moments for me were when Bono massaged the lyrics on Stay (Faraway, So Close)one of my all-time favoritesand when The Edge reminded us all why hes so awesome on Sunday Bloody Sunday. It was the best version of Sunday Bloody Sunday I have ever heard and rivals the best live performance Ive ever seen at any show.

Im reluctant to say its the best show Ive ever seen because Ive seen many great ones. Ive been moved many times, Ive had my share of cathartic experiences and, most importantly, Ive been able to share all those moments with people I love.

Last night, I shared the stadium with one of my best friends, Amanda Gillooly, and a city of fans and friends I love dearly. Some of us were there because we love U2; others were there because it was another big city event and excuse to tailgate at Heinz Field.

I loved seeing so many smiling faces and taking in the atmosphereincluding when our section broke into a "Here we go Steelers, here we go" cheer. It was magical to hear Where the Streets Have No Name while seeing traffic move steadily across the Fort Pitt Bridge. All I could do was breathe while Bono sang a few versus of Hallelujah.

And Ive never taken for granted the beauty of Pittsburghs skyline; it really is the best backdrop to any event.

But mostly I walked away feeling a little taller. Maybe not 10-feet but definitely more than 56."

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