Late last week while we were in NC, Tom was gifted two tickets to a U2 concert. Did I want to go?
Um, yes. Seeing U2 live has been on my bucket list for years, but as I am so out of the music loop, I have never managed to get tickets in time. The show was last night, the DC stop on the band's The Joshua Tree 2017 tour. This year marks the 30th anniversary of release of The Joshua Tree, and at each concert U2 is playing every song from that remarkable album.
It takes us two hours to drive the 18 miles to FedEx Field, and with every minute, my anticipatory glee grows. I fly out of the car as soon as Tom parks and haul ass to our seats which happen to be IN A BOX (OMG!) with food and drink and a bathroom!
As the sun sets over The Lumineers' brief opening act, as I take in the tens of thousands of joyous concertgoers, as I let all the shitty stress of the ugly news recede into the recesses of my psyche, even as I remember that I desperately want a t-shirt and so hurry back to the merchandise area where I join forces with a friendly stranger so that we have the power of two women who WILL GET SHIRTS (and we do), I feel the most unadulterated youthful joy I have felt in some time.
U2 opens with Sunday Bloody Sunday, from War (1983), which brings me to my feet. For the most part, I don't sit again until we get in the car to drive home.
I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
We can be as one, tonight.
Bono says a few songs in, "These songs seem so relevant now, which is a surprise." A sad surprise but such an accurate observation.
The trenches dug within our hearts...And it's true we are immune, when fact is fiction and TV reality.
They transpose TV and reality and sing, "When fact is fiction and reality TV." My eyes prick with tears. Bono is a political guy and takes some definite swipes at America's ugly political landscape right now and the Right's role in that. But he also casts a truly bipartisan net of hopefulness. "Right, Left, in between. You are all welcome here tonight. We'll find common ground, reaching for higher ground."
Four songs in, and the telltale chords of Pride (In the Name of Love), from The Unforgettable Fire (1984) resonate throughout the stadium like a universal heartbeat.
Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.
And the tears come anew because who can believe that we're there again after all these years? We're circling back in such horrible, frightening ways. Philando Castile's murderer was just acquitted. Pregnant mother of four, Charleena Lyles, recently followed in Castile's tragic footsteps, shot to death by a policeman she'd called for help. It seems a certainty that her death won't be responded to in just fashion either.
Fifth song and we reach The Joshua Tree. Bono says, "Some say the dream is dead. The dream of America which is not just a country but an idea too. We must stay awake to dream. Awaken...The United States are kind of everybody's country. That's a blessing and a responsibility."
Where the Streets Have No Name, maybe my favorite U2 song, and the crowd is wild. (See video at the start of this post for the opening chords.) It's followed by I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and then With or Without You, and oh my god, U2's repertoire is epic.
It is World Refugee Day, and as Bono is so actively, avidly, deeply involved in so many great causes -anti-poverty, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, refugees, women and girl's education and rights- he speaks about the need to do so much more, to be involved. "Luminous ones shine bright and often get the credit, but you don't have to be so luminous to make a difference."
Second song of the six-song encore is Beautiful Day. Photos of enormously impactful women play on the giant screens behind the band. Bono says, "When women of the world unite to rewrite history as her story, that is a beautiful day!" My eyes water again. Without realizing it, I raise a fist into the air.
The night flies by with impossible speed. U2 ends with One and then Vertigo, and I am crushed when the screens go dark.
This morning, the boys asked how the concert was. "Awesome," T and I said. "Here, I took some videos and pics to show you," I said.
"Mom, is that you screaming in that video?" Jack asks, with a definite tinge of embarrassment coloring his cheeks.
"Yes it is, buddy!"
But I think he sort of loved it too.