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"Most important, his is a voice shot through with self-doubt." — Bruce Springsteen, on Bono, at U2's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

by Jack Straw

I had bought tickets when the first went on sale, at some point in 2009. Kept a hold of them, and went with my wife to only our second rock concert ever, and the first on on the ground and out of the seats. I loved the whole day's experience.

We had a hassle getting to Philly, including a broken windshield, backed up bridge, and so on, so rather than driving and parking at Lowe's around noon, I was driving by the stadium around 3 pm, and we changed plans and decided to park. I figured that was the best way to shake up the set and change the vibe. It worked.

Having went to dozens and dozens of Grateful Dead shows, I thought we'd at least have a good time hanging around the stadium. So, first things, we found really close parking for $30 bucks, next to a wholesale food market right across from the back entrance to the stadium. We found food, a veggie cheeseburger with salad and a eggplant parm and wandered around for 45 minutes, coming across two homemade bands playing live, before eating out front of the will call. Someone pointed to the other side where GA was so we walked down there and got some wrist bands, then decided we didn't want to stand in line and would walk back under the bridge to the car. I need to get into shorts and a t-shirt.

Cool timing, came around the corner to see the SUV's pulling up, and joined the 40 folks there in watching Bono sign autographs. I just like watching those scenes up close-- Bono in denim complete with cap.

Walked back over to the line and rejoined the place we were, and about 45 minutes later were walking into the stadium, to yet another line, to go down to the field. Once we got through, we realized that we were going into the inner circle, the pit as its called. Wow, that came as a big shocker to us. One of 3000 inside, how awesome!

We wound up standing about 6 people back at the center-right of the stage for the concert. It blew our minds, but nothing like what was coming in the the show. What Time is it? We got our answer at the end -- showtime.

Third song in, Mysterious Ways was so much fun singing along to with my wife there, that's when we started to cut loose and really dig the show.

During Until the End of the World, Bono came out on one of the bridges, and was about 15 feet from us. Had a handful of yellow roses he was holding and then threw out. His dancing during that song is just spastic during The Edge playing, and given we were right there, with the crowd having to turn to view, it shook up the 'place' just enough to have everyone in the near vicinity loosen up and really shake it out right along with him.

There were a couple of things that showed how U2 really separates themselves from any other band, in the manner in which the embrace a worldview beyond rock. Highlighting Gabby Giffords' husband during Beautiful day, and the sing-along-there between the two... "See the Bedouin fires at night" made you tingle.

I'm an older GenX'er, and by far, the majority of the crowd inside the Pit is the same 30-50 age group. Although, when Elevation broke out, along with Vertigo, you could immediately tell who among the Millennium's that were there (and the really hardcore U2 fans). I dug seeing something pulled out from War, with Sunday.

My favorite album is Unforgettable Fire, so hearing more than Pride would have made my day. I think its with this album that its strong bond with Americans started to happen, as it was right amidst the Reagan era of the US, and while most Gen X'ers were just going along with America first, here was something that went a different direction or vision, that was more global in world view.

That's what strikes me the most about U2-- how much they challenge their audience to move their boundary beyond merely Philly, to challenge their thinking with Amnesty, and Aung San Suu Kyi, and One.

One. That was a huge highlight right where we stood. A group of One workers started up a One Circle during the song, with about 20-30 people joining in, quite the unity to feel that arm in arm with strangers. After that first encore, my wife remarked that she wanted to hear With or Without, and tada, one song later. After that, we had it all, and left full.

The fun part was getting out. Just about stepping out during the A Capella bday song to Mandiba, we scooted quickly. I knew this would be hell getting out first, but figured we had a good shot seeing how things had went that day, and we did, and wound up getting to our car quickly and made it downtown, and in less than 30 minutes we were checking in; just wanted water and to lay on my back after all that dancing and jumping.

I finally realized my ears were ringing, what a night. Showtime is was.

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