Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U2, Chicago, Soldier Field, 9/13/09

U2 in Chicago: the madness continues

As stated, after the 9/12 show my friend Ally and I got numbers 46 and 47, which was awesome. We went back to our group by the loading dock and eventually ended up asking a cab driver where we could get something to eat near our hotel at that hour; eight or ten of us ended up with late-night subs, also availing ourselves of the opportunity to buy some pastry and/or chips for the next day.

After the first day, some of us were really tired (okay, ALL of us were really tired), and some of us felt less urgency for the second day. However, Ally and I planned to hit it hard again; we wanted to be there about 4:30. Unfortunately, we overslept – I can’t imagine why, besides the exhaustion, other than the fact that four educated, intelligent, capable women from three continents apparently can’t figure out how to work a hotel alarm clock. At any rate, the two of us got to the off-site underpass encampment around 5:30 (again, the venue wouldn’t let people line up overnight on the property, but with security’s knowledge they lined up very nearby). We were just in the nick of time, AGAIN, because (as happens) some people were missing, and security was getting ready to move us to the on-site line again – the underpass. So the line organizers were going down the line taking roll again and renumbering to skip over the absentees. Ally and I bumped up to 35 and 36, which is the best number I’ve ever had and could not be more awesome. Then security let us on site to the real line, which, again, it wasn’t a single-file waiting area, so the numbers weren’t kept as strictly as at other lines I’ve seen, but it worked for us. The wait was much more pleasant Sunday because we’d been there before, we knew the ropes, we had more room because it wasn’t a line-merging rush at the last minute. Time seemed to pass much faster.

The day went very similarly. People looked familiar; we tried to save our strength. I was exhausted from the day before and from lack of sleep, but I can’t really fall asleep in line very well. I can relax and rest and come very close to dozing, but not really sleep. I was so tired, I kept thinking that if I kept eating, it would be the same as sleep – energy acquisition, right? I ate everything I could. You also end up analyzing your liquid intake in strange ways. Like, I have to have caffeine to live and to not have a headache. And it’s very important to keep hydrated all day so you don’t faint during the show. But after 3:30 or 4:00 you can’t go to the bathroom from the line, and you don’t want to have to go once you’re inside – it’s such a madhouse. So you drink a lot at some times, cut yourself off at others – it’s kind of weird.

The first night, however, I discovered my secret weapons to surviving, even tired and/or hungry, which is that I sneaked a water bottle into the place each night – later you need that water! – as well as a soyjoy bar and one of those “5-hour energy drinks,” which I don’t usually have. I don’t know whether it’s a psychological thing – certainly those drinks taste horrible – but having the bar and drinking the thing after the opening band gives you just that extra bit of energy to get through.

The second day, the head security guy (“Tony”) told us he’d been trying to get us better organized and safer, because the charge into the stadium had been kind of a dangerous cluster the night before. This time they roped us off again, but a phalanx of security actually walked us through the first area to the turnstiles. Again there was some confusion – people in all the other lines were getting wristbands, and the staff person in our line was holding a bunch of them, so going through, we all stopped and asked, “Don’t we need wristbands?” and he said “No – don’t hold up the line!” so we went ahead without them, because, what can you do? A guy after him hole-punched our tickets for reasons I don’t understand. We ran inside and around the corner and waited again. Then we were supposed to hold up our tickets and wristbands as we ran past security. I HAVE NO WRISTBAND. but it was a mob scene, there was no way they could see or could have stopped me, so I just held up my ticket with the rest and ran ran ran. Again Ally and I wanted the same spot and she promised to hold a space for me, so I ran and looked for her and ran and walked past security and ran-walked and nearly died - football fields are BIG - and there she was as promised, so there we were!

This second night we decided to try for the inner pit – in past tours this was lottery-based or random, but on this tour it’s strictly first come first serve, which, frankly, is the only way I’ll ever get in there. So with Ally’s superior running skills coming into play once again, we got inside the pit at the stage rail right in front of Adam Clayton. Hooray!

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Sunday night's show was even better than Saturday’s. It has to be the best concert I've ever seen. they made a few changes in the set list and took out 'Pride' for the first time in years but added back in "until the end of the world," which made me very very happy. That’s not only a song I love a ton, but it’s one of my favorite U2 songs live. Ally and I had a great time jumping up and down and singing and cheering and taking pictures.

At first I didn’t feel that way; I was kind of discouraged, because from that close to the stage, your view is most excellent of some of the stage but very limited when it comes to other parts of the show. And when the bridge swung out and was almost directly over us, it was so chaotic, security had to come out into the crowd, you couldn’t really see anything – I felt kind of less than 100 percent thrilled about our choice.

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But the bridge was only right over us for one song, and security got out of our way, and we were right at the stage, and the sound was amazing, and the show was amazing, and everything went right. Oh, not only that, but they played a rare track “Your Blue Room” live for the first time ever anywhere that night. It’s not even on my short list of favorite U2 songs, but it joins many less-than-my-favorite U2 songs that is totally redeemed live (I never liked Miss Sarejevo that much until I saw it live on the Vertigo tour, for instance). Plus it was such a rare experience.

Sometimes something happens at a concert that you really can’t explain. It’s the same people doing the same thing, but everything just kind of clicks and comes together, and the audience is better and pushes the band a little further, and they give a little more and provokes the audience to respond a little more – this was that kind of night. Afterward people were just kind of gasping, “amazing – wow – WOW.”

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Afterward we went back out to the loading dock again. Let me mention here that, regardless of the facts, venue staff will invariably tell you that the band left a long time ago and that you are wasting your time waiting. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it isn’t. However, this time there weren’t really any security people around, and someone came and took down some barriers, so it didn’t look good for stalking on this particular occasion. So we gave up and went away – exhausted and satisfied.

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My flickr set from 9/13/09:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_lynch/sets/72157622310971887/

set list:

Breathe
No Line On The Horizon
Get On Your Boots
Magnificent
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Elevation
Your Blue Room
Unknown Caller
Until the End of the World
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy
Encore 1:One
Where the Streets Have No Name
Encore 2:
Ultraviolet
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

2 comments:

ThirtyWhat said...

HOW AMAZING! :D What great photos too ... looks like you had a great time!

Have you ever been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Mr. ThirtyWhat and I just went a couple weeks ago ... and did you know they won't like you take photos inside the museum???

Occula said...

Hi, ThirtyWhat!
Thank you! I did have an amazing time, and really got some lucky photos. I have one more show to post about, but the photos I got there weren't as great.

Husband and I went to the Rock Hall a few years ago (when they had the big U2 special exhibit, I'm forced to confess), and it was really incredible. I'd love to go back! It was neat to be at a museum that was for my people, you know? noisy and busy and stuffed with things that were very meaningful to me personally. but yeah, the No Pictures Cops were all over us too. *sigh*