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"On stage I look exuberant because I feel exuberant. I don't pretend. U2 never pretend." — Bono



by mikeop34

I finally did it! Tuesday night, the first of back-to-back U2 shows in LA, I got into that ellipse. I hesitated to give my ticket to the scanner, realizing at that point that I could no longer depend on my hope to carry me through. Screen stays blue, and you proceed to the floor. Screen turns red flashing the Vertigo logo, and you proceed to the ellipse. Simple binary process, but let me tell you, waiting for the screen to give you an answer feels like an eternity, to use an often quoted but seldom appropriate cliche. Just as I handed my ticket to the scanner, I watched the person in front of me disappointingly leave the desk as his ticket received only a blue screen. Now, it was my turn. The ticket's barcode was scanned, and after as close as to an eternity as I have felt, the screen turned red, and those amazing, beautiful Vertigo logos splashed across the screen. Between pumping my fist, screaming at my sister and approaching that massive ellipse, security guards yelled to stop running and slow down, and other people milled about to find friends and spots on the floor outside the ellipse. Realizing he or she is going to be kept from the ellipse is probably the most disappointing point for any GA ticket holder, but that's a feeling I won't have to worry about (at least for another week).

The day started for me at around 7am. After a couple false starts hitting the snooze button, I finally fell out of bed and steadied myself for the U2 concert. My sister and I were ready for a long day. In the car with us were 2 bags full of nourishment and entertainment. This was a whole day we were going to spend there. We squinted through the morning sun to find the GA line at the back of the arena. Already, nearly a hundred people sat in front of us, some with mattresses, some with fold-out chairs, all with U2 memorabilia of some sort and all with a U2 obsession many would find sick. For my sister and me, we were at home. We chatted up many fans along the way, whose breadth of knowledge and depth of dedication put us to shame. "Those are real fans," I told my sister, after a band of longtime fans passed out 16,000 (yes, 16,000!) Happy Birthday signs for us to present Larry during the show.

The second part of the day began at 1:30pm, when I discovered a small corner near the loading ramp and under a big tree of all things. 15 people were firmly ensconced at the rails, waiting for none other than our Irish boys to show up for soundcheck. A report trickled down to us that soundcheck would begin at 3pm. I rushed back to the GA lines and ordered my sister to the loading ramp to occupy a spot for us while I roasted away in the GA line for another hour. I joined her at 2:30pm and anxiously scanned every approaching car for the next 2 hours, hoping that any of them might match the description of Bono's ride: shiny, big, black SUV. Finally, at 4:30pm, a black SUV approached, and its driver wore a suit and sunglasses. Everyone clamored to see who was in the car, but it quickly drove underground. One fan waved, but who was in the car, we asked? She didn't know. She just waved. Then, another and another. None stopped! Then, one car finally slowed down as it passed us, the back window opening and the tip of a cowboy hat peeking out. Under the cowboy hat, you could see light red sunglasses. The crowd began to rush Bono's car as it stopped at the top of the loading ramp and his door opened. He leaned over a rail and shyly said the band was late for its soundcheck and had to go. He seemed genuinely disappointed for us, and even in turning back to retreat into his car, he couldn't help but sign a couple autographs. That is the kind of man he is, to put his fans first. If only we got some eye contact, my sister bemoaned.

We returned to line in time to return our bags of crap to our car and to use the bathroom a last time before entering the arena. The lines were compressed, and we filed in. Walking into the ellipse is one of the greatest moments of my life. It was practically empty, and it felt so welcoming. There was the front rail rubbing up on the main stage and beckoning to us! We grasped at the rail, barely believing our luck. We would not have a sip of water or a bathroom break for the next 5 and a half hours because we would not leave our spot in the ellipse. This was too important. A shorter man behind me offered me $100 to switch positions with him. $100 for 2 feet? Normally, a no-brainer of a deal. But for U2, no deal. "Sorry, I've been waiting too long for this," I explained, and he laughed. One U2 fan to another.

The familiar echo of The Arcade Fire's Wake Up brought the crowd to its senses again as it signaled the arrival of the greatest band of all time. The lights dimmed, and we were washed in the familiar red glow of City of Blinding Lights. Edge came on, receiving his guitar from guitar tech Dallas Schoo. Adam came on, Larry came on, and the opening notes crept in. Larry started beating away, and from the corner of the stage, Bono leapt on. Now, the most ridiculous part. Bono began the song and started approaching our side of the stage. Through his glasses, he peeked at my sister for an entire 2 lines of the first chorus!!!!!!!! To me, it was as if he was looking into my own soul. I stood there in shock with my arm raised toward him, becoming a groupie myself. Being on Adam's side of the stage, we were treated to many upclose view of the "posh" bandmember himself. My sister got a couple smiles and a wink!

The show was the greatest I've experienced, after 3 previous Vertigo shows and 3 Elevation shows, and one of the greatest moments of my life. Obviously, being within arm's length of the band and making eye contact with them were the greatest factors. But to add to those:

- Bono invited an all-girl cover band named Exit to the stage, and the band gave them their instruments as they launched into a crowd-killing version of Out of Control, with the band ultimately joining in and encouraging them

- singing Happy Birthday to Larry and Bono leading chants of "Hip, Hip, Hooray!" for Larry

- Bono brought a small girl onto the stage for Sunday Bloody Sunday, and she was so nervous, she didn't even have the breath to speak into the microphone when he held it in front of her

- great quotes: Bono - "Larry gets the girls, I get the books, Edge gets the rocket scientists and Adam gets the large penis", Bono - "Hola Amigos! Hola Mama Sitas!", Larry - "Thanks for coming to my birthday party, you can leave your gifts at the door. I'd like to thanks Bono, Edge and Adam for being my backup band."

After experiencing the general admission/floor ticket experience only through TV specials and fan reviews before, now I can say I've finally done the real thing!

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