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One part of his brain is a genius, but he can only focus on one thing. He wasn't able to negotiate his way through school, but he can sit and read seven books in a day. -- Ali, on Bono


by Angela P.

This is how I wrote about it on @U2:

You're probably wondering how the concert went. I'm not sure I can say. Not because I didn't like it -- on the contrary, I think Wednesday's show in Chicago was the best I've ever seen. It's because it's too soon. I'm still in what is technically known as the "They're so great/I love them so much" phase of U2phoria. I'll find myself repeating these phrases three, four, five times an hour, which is all well and good, but not particularly helpful -- not when I'm trying to articulate why they are so great and why I love them so much.

I can tell you specific elements of the show that were perfect. For example -- I've been to six concerts now, and most have had some dead spots. U2 would clump too many ballads together, or classics like "New Year's Day" would sound old and tired. In this show, the arcs of energy and emotion rose and fell just right, and the songs that occasionally have that going-through-the-motions vibe for me ("Pride" comes to mind) were alive and crackling.

There was just the right balance of old and new, borrowed and ad-libbed. Sixteen of the evening's songs were ones I'd never heard performed live. Nine songs came from the new album, an album I've gone on record as saying I don't particularly like, but U2 proved their salesmanship skills once again. I even adored "Miracle Drug." They could sell ice cream to Ted Drewes. (Local joke. Google it.)

The crowd behaved like these were hometown boys made good. Our seats were up on the side of the stage -- Larry was at 11 o'clock and Edge at 2 -- so our view of the crowd was much like the band's. Often the fun was in watching the people watching U2. One question -- how'd the guys in the back of the bomb shelter sneak in a trampoline? They must've shot six feet in the air during the rowdier numbers, and we normal human beings have trouble doing that unassisted.

Then there was our little crowd, the St. Louis Area U2 Fan Club. As great as the concert was, seeing it with anyone who wasn't into it would've been a buzz-killer. This was not a problem with Sherry and Lynn. After all, our transport to Chicago had "U2 OR BUST" and "HONK IF U (heart) U2" scrawled on its windows. (This proved a mite problematic in traffic -- tough to tell, when we heard beeping, whether we'd just cut somebody off or had made a friend.) These are the sort of folks who will sing along with "City of Blinding Lights" with you -- in a downtown Chicago McDonald's when the song comes on the piped-in system when you go for a protein run two hours after the concert lets out.

I liked noticing how even the tiniest details were beautiful. Two moments tell the story. One was right after the show. I hadn't been wearing earplugs, we were eighteen rows from the stage, but my ears weren't ringing. Sound that's clear, loud but unpainful -- thank you, thank you, thank you, Joe O'Herlihy. A second moment, also right as we were heading out: We were chatting with the fellas manning one of the merchandise booths, one guy started joking with Lynn about selling the handmade U2 necklace she was wearing, filling our heads with dreams of riches (easily dispelled by visions of getting sued like there was no tomorrow). It made a great impression on me that all the merch guys were so friendly and polite. Geez, I thought. Everybody here is into the love and peace. How did I have the good fortune to step into this world?

This was just what I needed. The other night, a week or so before the concert, I dreamt about plumes of smoke rising over my city, planes crashing, landmarks reduced to craters. And then in the dream I saw a man abusing his family. So many Technicolor catastrophes were hitting at once that no one would come help me stop something as mundane as domestic violence.

The most awful part of the nightmare was waking up and recognizing the mood of it in the mood of daily life. I'd been walking around in a perpetual cringe, hoping maybe if I scrunch my ears down far enough I won't hear about the war or the hurricanes or the "mundane" disasters: lost jobs, illnesses among family and friends.

At the concert Wednesday night Edge was having technical difficulties at the start of "Miracle Drug." He let the intro notes chime over and over while Dallas fiddled with the amps and Bono distracted us with a story. "I keep telling people Edge is from the future. Not only from another planet, but from another solar system, another galaxy, another universe...in the future. When Edge's space ship came to the north side of Dublin it was playing that tune." He waved in the air to indicate the notes still chiming. "Adam, Larry and myself watched his space ship landing. Edge walked out and Larry said, 'Where are you from?' and Edge said, 'I'm from the future.' Adam asked, 'What's it like?' and Edge said, 'It's better.'"

From the applause that followed this seemingly throwaway line, I guess I wasn't the only one who felt the nightmare lose its power.

They're so great. I love them so much.

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