Posted by Unknown |

Disclaimer: I'm going to seem like a gushing fan boy here. But I guess that's what I am.

Ahh, yeah.

It's been 5 days since I last saw U2. And I'm still feeling happy. Mention the concert to me and I can't help but smile.

While I had been planning for a while to camp out, I decided just to go early. The problem was that I couldn't figure out what I'd do with a tent on the dance floor.

We got up early. 6am. It was the first time I've been awake at 6am and happy for, well, ever I think. Jo and I went for an early morning trek into our suburb buy supplies for our day, fruit, bread, chocolate biscuits. That kind of thing. We took our food home, and after some frenetic food creation, noisy concert DVDs, and excitable chatter, Helen, Jon, Jo, Martin and I headed off to Sydney Olympic Park to get in a line.

And after parking in Newington, line up we did. From 9am to 5:30pm. What I learnt in that time was that when a line starts moving 5 hours before the gates open, it's not because the gates have opened early. Over the day the line, at random moments, would move closer to the entrance squashing everyone closer together, meaning that whenever we'd staked out a good spot in the line with plenty of space we'd lose it and have to re-establish our territory again. It was important to establish a large amount of territory because we started in the line with five people, and we ended at about 5:10pm with 11* of us. So we spent most of the day handing out tickets and ushering our friends into the line. I'm not sure if they was the polite thing to do but no one seemed to know.

As we got closer to the concert conversation moved from our normal topics (whatever they are) to U2. Gem got us playing a U2 lyrics game. When Tim arrived he firmly got me swapping U2 facts and competing for Alpha U2 fan. We discussed the set list and most importantly we talked about how to get into the inner sanctum, the restricted area at the front for only the chosen few. I thought that it was going to be by random selection like it's been for the arena tours. But one of our acquaintances we met in the crowd suggested that it might be the first 4,000 people into the stadium. With this possibility, and knowing that no matter what we wanted a good spot, we decided to run (or walk a swiftly as possible) as soon as we got through the gates.

When 5:30 arrived, the gates were opened, the crowd cheered and we all surged forward. As we headed towards the gates (or the two gates as it turned out, security then turnstiles) we trampled peoples pillows and refuse from days of camping. As soon as we were through we were all ushered down the ramp into the stadium. It was cool, it was like we were a band entering the stadium to play our show except there were thousands of us in the band. We walked by catering people, and trucks and portaloos. We saw the blue line from the Sydney 2000 Marathon leading into the stadium. I got flash backs of where I have seen that line all over Sydney. And I imagined what it would have been like to be running down that line after 42kms (or is it 43kms) of running through the hot Sydney sun. And for me, I was at the end too, I was at the climax of a journey with U2 that started about 9 years ago when I borrowed a few CDs off Bevis. Around that time U2 were out here with PopMart, and I thought "That'd be fun to see, but I can't afford it". And now, years later, I'm walking swiftly into a stadium to see the biggest rock band in the world, who have just so happened to become my favourite rock band in the world. The band that have played the soundtrack to my life for almost a decade. They've been there in the joy, and the love, and the sadness, and the lostness, and the faithfulness, and the faithlessness. The band that I've dreamed about seeing for years, both daydreams and real dreams. The band that make me want to be a worship leader so I can get the whole church singing "All I Want is You" (not that they would).

So here I am, with 10 of my closest friends, being told by security guards "Don't Run!". We come out into the stadium, and there it is, the Vertigo stage. The stage that I've been staring at in photos and videos on the internet for months, and it's right in front of my. And I can see the inner-sanctum ahead. It's a whole football field away. People are streaming in. There's no random selection process, just the first 4,000 or so people. I want to get there quicker, but I can't run. And then we're at the gates. I'm expecting the security guards to stop us and say, "Sorry, no more" they have their little clickers out. But they don't make any move. I enter the gate, and they don't stop me, and I'm in, were all in. the stage is there. Just metres ahead of us. I can't believe it. It really is like a dream. It's red, it's black, it's real. Yeah.

We get a spot at the end of the catwalk. We're less than five metres away from where Bono and friends are going to be. I can't believe it. I keep looking at the spot, thinking "That's where Bono is going to be, that's where Larry is going to be, that's where Adam's going to be, that's where the Edge is going be." It's wonderful.

So we settle down for a few more hours of waiting. We sit to secure our position and to rest our weary legs. All day I've been limiting my water intake to make sure I'm only drinking as much as I'm using. I don't want to have to visit the toilet.

I think it's time to switch back to past tense

After a few hours, at 7:30ish, Kanye West came out. I'd been looking forward to him for a while. Because as far as hip-hop goes I quite like him. And he did alright. I felt a bit sorry for him because he's so talented, but lots of people weren't paying attention and he had dodgy sound. "Gold Digger", "Jesus Walks" and "Touch the Sky" were fun. There were two older men standing next to us who thought Kanye was pretty fun. They kept saying things like "I'm afraid I'm actually getting into this" and "All these young people know all the words, I'm not as young as I was."

When Kanye finished we had a bit of a wait again. All the roadies ran out onto the stage to clear things up. Take lights down, put new stuff down, test guitars and their radio gear. We got The Egde and Adam's guitar techs walking down the catwalk. Even that was fun, because they're minor celebrities in U2 fandom.

When 8:30 was almost upon us, and the roadies were almost finished, the rain arrived. Suddenly, the stage filled with roadies again, covering everything with plastic. "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire began to play. And we began to cheer because "Wake Up" is the last song that plays before U2 come out. And then the lights go out. The speakers start shouting at us "Everyone! Everyone! Everyone!" The music starts, "City of Blinding Lights", and the lights come up and there's The Edge on the guitar, Adam on his Bass, Larry on the drums. And theres a commotion to my right, and there, right there, just metres are away, is Bono, at the end of a catwalk wearing an Australian flag.

And they're off. And the concert is fantastic. Everyone is singing as loud as they can. I'm jumping. And it's so much fun. The massive screen is filled with lights, the rain is coming down, and it's magic.

From "City" they go into "Vertigo" which is just good fun. All jumping and singing, red lights, guitars and drums. "I feel your love teaching me how to kneel". Amen.

Then it's "Elevation". The cut down version that they've been doing for this tour. I haven't been a big fan, but as soon as the rock kicks in, it goes off. It's a great song, it reminds me of College Tour 2002 because I edited the video of the tour to that song. It'll always remind me of they tour. It was a good tour.

"Until the End of the World" - "Jesus, this is Judas". The Edge plays guitar like a rock god. Or perhaps like a man possessed. Either way he's can play. And I well I love this song too. Surprise, Surprise.

"New Years Day" followed by "Beautiful Day" with a special insert about "See the Opera House, all white sails right in front of you." Which was fun, though not as good as the original lyrics. Bono ends "Beautiful Day" singing "Hallelujah", and it's goose bumps. Bono can lead worship in my church anytime he wants to, even if he does sometimes swear.

They do "Yahweh" acoustic and I can see Gem, Jem, Jo and Mil go a little nuts. They love that song. I consider how often it is that rock bands sing songs with named after the God of the Hebrews. Not all that often I reckon.

"Walk On" comes next, and that's great. The screen fills with animated Aboriginal art work and it's beautiful. I'm not a big fan of Aboriginal art, but when it's animated to U2 live, it's great. And it's moving, because it's a cry for the indigenous people of Australia. It's a special song and it seems entirely appropriate when played in Australia that it's given to the Aborigines.

Next comes "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own", a staple song of this tour. Bono tells us that if his father were here tonight he tell him to "take off your f***ing glasses" so he does.

Now it's into the "war" section of the set, "Love and Peace", "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Bullet the Blue Sky". This is cool. So much anger, so much violence in the music. Bono plays his drum at the end of "Love and Peace" at our end the cat walk. He's just there drumming just near us. We can hear the drum when he actually hits it, not when it comes out of the speakers and gets to us. It's weird because it sounds like he's playing out of time.

In "Sunday Bloody Sunday" my favourite bit of the whole show happens. Preempting Bono the whole crowd starts chanting "No more! No more! No more!" And I get shivers down my spine because it feels like we have decided we don't need Bono to leads to call for peace anymore, we don't need Bono, we want justice all on our own. It feels like we own the anger at the terrible things of this world. We're not the audience anymore, we're the leaders. And it feels so good. We're not cheering for a band anymore, were shouting for change.

Bono puts his hand over his mouth.

"Bullet" was cool. Edge's solo is electrifying. I love that song. "Angriest guitar in rock and roll" The Edge is the Man.

"Pride" follows and how can you not love a classic!

Then it's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and this is the song I've been waiting for. If I had to pick one song to see live it'd be this one. And I love it. When the white lights kick in half-way through it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Although probably not because I'm quite hairy and there's a lot of them. But I can tell they really want to stand up and they give it their best shot. The Spirit is in the house! Hallelujah!

For "One" we all pull out our mobiles and the stadium fills with thousands of tiny points of white light all dancing about. It looks amazing. I text my name to end poverty.

And then U2 are finished, at least they pretend to be. But after a lot of cheering the Zoo poker machine video kicks in and they're back with "Zoo Station" and "The Fly" I love "The Fly".

"A man will rise
A man will fall
From the sheer face of love
Like a fly from a wall"

"With or Without You" ends the encore. Bono gets up a girl to dance with and she freaks out. She can't do anything but stand there and scream. Or at least she looks like she's screaming, I can't hear her. But despite her screaming the song is lovely.

When they leave for the second time Bono says "Good night from Bono" then gives the mic to Larry who says "Good night from Bono", Adam mumbles something and The Edge tells us to go to bed. And I want to, I really want to, because the Edge tells me to. And if The Edge tells you, you obey. But I stay because I know there's another encore coming.

And so it does. With "The Saints Are Coming". It's only the second time they've played this song live without Green Day and it's so cool. They seem to be getting back to their punk roots. That song rocks.

"Angel of Harlem" makes me feel a little lost because I know the chorus but not all the verses, damn scratched CD of Howie's. I'll have to go buy it.

And the last song of the night is "Kite" brought out especially for Australian audiences, complete with a didgeridoo player. Right at the end, standing next to us, Bono lets off a kite attached to a helium balloon which is attached to the stage. To let it go he tries to burn the string, but the lighter doesn't light it. Then he tries to pull break the string with his hands, but he can't do that either, so he hands it to a roadie who cuts the string. The kite flies off into the sky till it gets stuck on the massive screen. Finally right at the end, the kite gets caught by the wind and flies off into the night.

And then U2 are gone.

It was very, very special.

I'm a happy man. I walked back to the car, sore, thirsty, hungry and full of joy. It was all I wanted it to be.

I didn't go again on Monday, not because I didn't want to, but I though, once is enough. I didn't want to ruin the specialness. Once is a gracious gift. And I'm content.

When they come back, I'll be there.

*All up there was Jo, Helen, Jon, Mil, Martin, Jem, Gem, Tim, Howie and Jenny. My Auntie was also there with a ticket we got for her, but she cam too lat to join us, that was sad.