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"You can't fill a large stadium physically. You have to fill it with music." — Adam

by Chris B.

"Took Us Out of this World"

Out of this world, indeed. So, the Heinz Field concert was my first time seeing U2 or, in that matter, any concert of anyone. So, some may ask, how was the concert? How can I answer this question… no possible words can begin to describe the concert.

Time of arrival would be before eight o’clock on a nice warm day in the awesome Pittsburgh. Familiar to Heinz Field because of Pitt Panther games, there was really no problem getting there. We heard the opening act, Interpol. After listening to them, I figured it would be a decent concert.

During the intermission between Interpol and U2, a time comes up on the enormous screen of the stage, Dublin: 1.21. I wondered what this meant at first but then multiple of these cities came up on the screen like Mumbai, Zurich, Atlanta, signifying their military times. With this also rolled different interesting stats: how many e-mails were sent that day, U2 songs performed on 360 Tour, total government spending on healthcare, how much money is being spend on illegal drugs, days to the end of oil, days to the end of coal, and so on. So I go to a concert, see this and actually have to think? I knew I was in the right place.

The different stats begin to disappear, the screen is left with one time, and then we hear “Space Oddity” blare out louder than the other “intermission music” they were playing… they were coming to the stage. The begin performing and all that comes is outstanding and outpouring of tremendous power from each member, Adam Clayton’s base opened up both the Edge and Larry Mullen Jr, to a level further, The Edge was playing his electric guitar like he was Pete Townshend and Les Paul, pouring his soul into each hand stroke across the guitar, Larry Mullen Jr’s rhythm in each song kept the songs on track sounding like final sketches of art, and Bono’s touching and intimidating voice brought the songs to an incredible level with power and energy that I doubt most have even been in the presence of. This tells us that, how each U2 member performed leaves the crowd with a level that some may not even notice they were at; a level that they were at probably in the break of their career in 1983 after the release of War.

The songlist’s main set started with Achtung Baby favorites, “Even Better than the Real Thing”, “The Fly”, “Mysterious Ways - Someone Somewhere in Summertime - Promised You a Miracle”, “Until the End of the World – Anthem”. Versions of each and every one of these songs sounding as crisp and as fresh as the release back in 1991 with even a touch of 21st century feel to these songs making them even more memorable and commanding. They next play a favorite from their first album, their first song ever, “I Will Follow”. They continue with “Get on Your Boots”, “I Still Haven't Found What I’m Looking For”, and a very strong and vocal-based version of a 1993 classic “Stay” that shows Heinz Field is made for Acoustics.

“Where are you going to take us tonight?” asked Bono during “Even Better Than the Real Thing”. Response, “Out of this world!”

We are left next with a video that begins with Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, an astronaut who had a video introducing “Beautiful Day,” greeting Pittsburgh. In the middle of the song, he comes back reciting the verse that begins with “See the world in green and blue” that put more meaning to the song than ever before. The song ends with a snippet of Space Oddity that echoes Mark Kelly from his videos saying, “Tell my wife I love her very much, She knows.”

We continue with the main set with songs like “Elevation,” “Pride”, “Miss Sarajevo”, “Zooropa”, a shocking performance that had an REM feel to it. The song “City of Blinding Lights” saw the beginning of beautiful lighting with spotlights that rose to the sky and a touching moment where Bono brings a kid up on the stage to walk around with during the song, making the night memorable for, not just the crowd, but also the kid (yet that is the person Bono is, really). “Vertigo” is performed with a shocking snippet from “Two Hearts Beat as One”, a song that wasn’t played in any capacity since 1989. “I'll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” is performed outstandingly with a touch of dance/Moroccan feel including snippets from “Discotheque”, “Psycho Killer”, “Life during Wartime”, “Please”. They finish the main set with “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Scarlet”, and a fascinating version of “Walk On”, where a group of Amnesty International participants come with lanterns that are placed around the circular stage with Aung San Suu Kyi, a prisoner of Burma for peaceful protests who was just released, has a uplifting video that also encourages us to continue helping the others in Burma imprisoned.

The encore and its set list was one that cannot be forgotten. The performances of “One”, “Where the Streets Have No Name”, and “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me” were like the concert, unforgettable and uplifting. At this point, we are at “With or Without You” and Bono brings two fans (Matt and Melissa) on stage. He announces that they've been to 60 shows together and invites them to slow dance on stage during the whole song, which they do tenderly - making an amazing moment. After the fresh and surging anthem “Moment of Surrender” was made to be, the band huddles and U2 plays “Bad” for Andy Rowen, whom the song was originally written about in 1984 and who is at the show that night of July 26, 2011. This nine minute outpouring of a classic that heard the booming of Bono’s vocals and the magnificent music of the other U2ers is a song that should either be familiar with or better become familiar with, showed to me and probably others in the audience that U2 will be around as long as the Rolling Stones are currently. Whoever claims U2 is now nonexistent, wake up.

Now, the question can be left with is: How was the concert? For me, there isn’t a single word that can describe to anyone how it was. It could be because this was my first concert ever in my life. Either way, I learned a lot and had a time that I surely will never forget. I may have learned that the world is spending billions of dollars on war. I may have learned that there are 15,473 days left until the end of oil. But there is one thing, other than these multiple stats I just named, that is the most memorable and the biggest reason why I’m a U2 fan: U2 can bring people together. People who have never even met each other were brought together because of their music. People singing in unity to songs that made them become fans of U2. The concert had power and energy through their music but also because seeing a group of people is united in a way like their music is something that no other person experienced… unless you were at this concert.

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