Most of you know that I’m a U2 fan. I have been since about 1983. I love their music and the way they live their lives. I also love that Bono is not shy about using “the currency of my stardom” (as he says) to get people to help him change the world.
And most of you know the following story. But I just want to get it in writing.
So, throughout my life, despite my devotion, I never saw them in concert. Couldn’t get tickets. Not in the right place at the right time. In November 2001, when I was 5 months pregnant, I got close. All I could get were obstructed-view tickets. I passed. I wasn’t going to haul my pregnant belly and swollen ankles into the Oakland Arena, only to not be able to see. For me a concert is as much about seeing as hearing. And, it turns out, I wouldn’t have been able to go because I ended up in the hospital on Percocet that week with fibroid trouble. The only thing worse than an obstructed view is having tickets for said view and not being able to go!
They came around again in 2005. They always play the Bay Area twice per tour — spring and fall, two shows each. I couldn’t get tickets for April. So, knowing they would be back, I set about getting the 411. A guy my husband worked with who happened to be a devoted fan (he sees several shows every tour) finally shed the light: Craigslist. Of course.
Now, a side note about U2 concerts: the band insists that the general admission, standing room only, floor tickets be the cheapest. They only charge $50. They feel everyone should have a shot at being close to the band. People on Craigslist selling the same tickets, unfortunately, feel the need to profit. So, two general admission tickets cost me $300. I had just written a freelance story that paid $350, so Cris and I were OK with it. As Cris said to me: “You HAVE to do this.” It’s true. I did. It seems crazy that at 37, seeing a band live was so important. But it was. And it still stands out as one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Now, the other deal with the GA tickets is that you have a shot of being right up against the stage. U2 generally has a semi-circle catwalk that comes out from the stage. (Click here to watch the video for “City of Blinding Lights“, the song with which the concert opened — it shows the set-up. The standing-room area is inside that semi-circle and outside of it. By buying GA tickets you are entered in a lottery for a spot inside the circle — and you can take whoever’s with you. So, as we approached the entrance, we’d hear random people scream as their tickets were scanned and they saw the words “VERTIGO, VERTIGO, VERTIGO” on a computer screen. They were in! I was dying, but not letting on. Cris knew, though.
It was our turn. I handed over my ticket. The guy scanned it. Nothing happened. A fraction of a second seemed like an hour. Then on the screen “VERTIGO, VERTIGO, VERTIGO.” I screamed! I jumped! Cris screamed and jumped — but on the inside. We made our way to the inner circle. We had gotten there pretty early, so we got pretty close. In front of us were five people, the secruity fence, the security guy and The Edge.
Well, at first it wasn’t The Edge, it was opener Damian Marley and his band. Under other circumstances I might have enjoyed them. But that night, I just found them tedious!
When U2 came out, I felt like I was 15. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Because U2 allows cameras, I have pictures to prove it to myself.
The concert was amazing beyond all expectations. It was a religious experience. We could see the expressions on their faces — their humble smiles betraying how much they love what they do. They played so many songs I love, including “Gloria,” which, we later found out, they’ve only played in concert like 10 times total. There’s just something amazing about being enveloped — hugged, really — by the music you love.
We touched base with my husband’s co-worker later in the week and he said it was one of the best U2 shows he’d ever seen.
We were standing next to a man who was introducing his 14-year-old son to U2. The man had seen them a few times. His wife was up in the stands — she had seen them 70 times all over the world. I can’t wait to introduce Max to the music we love, the music that shapes us. He already likes a lot of what we like. And he got my punk gene — he loves The Clash and Green Day. Go figure.
A few weeks after the concert I came across the number of the guy from whom I bought the tickets. He had seen them in April, and chose to see the Rolling Stones in the fall instead. The newspaper dubbed that time “Legends of the Fall” because U2, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney all played here within a month of each other.
So, I called him and told him we got into the inner circle. He was thrilled and thanked me for making his day.