April 5th, 2001

individual candles

be forewarned...this is very long. :-)

whoo hoo, this is an account of the atlanta show, my very first u2 concert, even though i've been a fan since 1993. i get a bit rambly, but i'm a girl and bono kissed my hand, so i'm sure you understand. :-)

*sigh* where to begin?
this is going to be all out of order.

we got to atlanta around four, had found our hotel, checked in, and had our asses in line at the arena by 4:30. the hotel was kind of dumpy on the outside, even on the interior hallways, but the room was decent and the bed just big enough for the two of us. i'm still gagging a little over the price (with tax $91.13!) but hell, i'd do it again. chalk it up to my queer sense of adventure.

ohkay, so they start letting people in at 6:30-6:45 and there was a mad rush for the door suddenly. before, it was a rather orderly line, but security was loose and people became aggressive. i got panicky myself, thinking that i'd stood in line for so long only to get shoved way to the back and i'd end up seeing the show from the back of the floor. megan and i grabbed hands and tried to navigate/hold our position in the crowd as best we could. oh the rush to get to the desk where they were slapping fuchsia wristbands on people was frantic. i got a little giggly after getting my wristband, so i grab megan's hand again and suggest we run into the arena to get where we want to be. the security guards didn't like that very much. :-) after three or four yelled WALK!s they got their message across. portals five, six, and seven will get us to the floor, so we scoot through six and barrel down the stairs as fast as the ticket checkers would let us. i can see the floor and there is only a crowd one person deep around the heart. there is *plenty* of room inside the heart, btw, but i think atlanta just got lucky in that respect. i don't see it happening that way in DC. we all but run to the point of the heart and plant our feet securely to the floor. this is *our* space! i am only one person back from the security gate. i can reach past her arm and touch the metal fence. which means if i stick my hand out, i can pretty much reach the stage. more on that later. :-) we are right at the tip, so it looks like a big arrow pointing right in our faces. i get trembly just thinking about how good our spots were. other than the two people in front of us, i think we had the best "seats" in the entire arena.

oh man, someone on hall is playing "i still haven't found what i'm looking for." i can't hear it, but i know that is what it is. i keep catching drifts of it. *big smile*

so we have our spots a little before seven, but the opening act, NOT pj harvey, to my dismay, doesn't come on until eight. we're standing on the metal grate that forms the base of the security fence, and it hurts! major foot owws before the show is over. but anyhow, opening act is nelly futado (sp?) and she's okay, but she's not my type. she sings several songs, maybe six, and then she's off by eight-forty. nine o'clock comes and goes and we're so antsy it's ridiculous. megan was counting the number of guitars that edge's roadie checked and tuned (is dallas schoo still edge's roadie?). after the fourth guitar check, when it appears the guitar checks are all we are waiting for, megan is determined that a good guitarist should only need one guitar. :-)

then, oh then, the intro comes over the speakers. it's hard to catch it at first, because they've been playing radiohead and coldplay to pass the time. it sounds like just another song. then the strains of elevation come through and suddenly you know it's beginning. i was seized with a sudden horror. i'm the distance of the heart away from the main stage, and when the band comes out, they look like actors taking the stage. actors taking up their characters, even. i found myself facing the fear that the show wouldn't seem real, that maybe i was idolizing something larger than life, four people larger than life, people who weren't real. and these four ordinary (or not so ordinary) people stepping into the skins of my musical idols would seem caricatured. i saw an edge look-alike from a distance, and a bono look-alike with that shaggy hairdo that could so easily be a wig, and feared that nothing these four humans would do could live up to my expectations. this fear took me halfway through elevation before it started to ebb.

[before the show had started, we'd been chatting to a slightly tipsy good looking guy from florida who was there with his sister, who was also good looking and getting very tipsy. frank was his name, and his sister was annie or something. frank had an advantage over us in that he was tall and fairly well built. so when the security guys spread out the setlist on the edge of the heart and started reviewing it, frank managed to sneak a peak at most of it. he got very mysterious about what he had seen and wouldn't tell me anything more than that they were going to be doing a good service to the POP album, which we both agreed that we loved. i figured they'd play gone (cuz edge likes that one) and discotheque, and although he wouldn't confirm that's what he'd seen, he didn't say no either.]

the band went through elevation, beautiful day, UTEOTW, and then did a wonderful rendition of gone. edge and bono danced back and forth on the catwalk for several songs, and the closer edge got the more i decided that i love that man. he's just so damn good looking. and he dresses exactly like two guys i know in lee hall. scruffy jeans, old-school looking colored tennis shoes, and some weird t-shirt. much too hip for a forty year old man. much too hip. but damn he does it well. you can have bono. i want mensa man.

the crowd, of course, has been going crazy from the very beginning. everyone knows the new songs, and it's wonderful to hear the entire arena sing them. the songs are a jumble in my head, i couldn't tell you the playlist if my life depended on it. they did a discotheque that became staring at the sun. again, dedicated SIAM to michael h. played sweetest thing just for megan and didn't dedicate it to ali either. he did dedicate in a little while to ali before he began it, and it was beautiful. she was there, in the back of the floor, i assume, and he sang the entire song right to that back section, with the most endearing expression on his face. right in front of me and megan, i might add. if we'd pushed hard enough, we probably could have grabbed his leg, but it was just too touching to watch him ignore an entire arena of screaming fans and sing a song directly to his wife without moving. if i'm not mistaken, edge was down on the ramp playing right at bono's elbow at that point. ohhh, and he clutched his chest during a lyric that he improvised/forgot/changed/whatever-it-is-he-does-to-lyrics about how how he's "coming home soon, i swear." and i think all the girls at his feet, including me, could have swooned.

edge stayed on the ramp long enough to do ground beneath her feet, but he went back to change guitars in preparation for bad. bono spent the time finishing up GBHF down at the front where we were. everyone in the world has their hand up in the air hoping that bono will reach out and touch them, all jesus-like (megan doesn't like that analogy, but i think it's funny considering the HMTMKMKM lyrics :-) ). i'm thinking, well, if i throw my hand up there (which i had, oh believe me i had), it pretty much looks like every other hand reaching out for him. so what can i do to make myself stand out? i didn't bring flowers, like the girl in front of me. i kind of think flowers are stalk-ish/fanatical/scary. the only thing i have on me besides my ticket, a car key, and some cash shoved down in my pocket is my U2FO tag. so i take it from around my neck and hold it up on its dogtag chain, kind of indicating he should reach out and grab it so i can die a happy girl. he finishes the song (i think it's still GBHF, i'm gonna have to check it against someone else's setlist), briefly takes a rose from the girl in front of me and then hands it back to her. he stays crouched down in the front as the lights dim and a security guard gives him some water. the other members of the band start bad. bono just crouches in the semi-dark resting and waiting for when he should stand up and begin the vocals. i can see him squinting at the card in my hand. then, then, then, i'm surprised i didn't faint, right as he started to raise himself to begin singing, he kisses his fingertips and presses them to mine. in another second, he's begun singing bad and he's five or ten feet down the heart ramp. but me, i'm still stuck in a moment that i didn't want to get out of. everyone around me (all strangers, and then a big one from megan) starts hugging me ecstatically. i just stand there thrilled that he did that, so serendipitous that he did it during bad, the song that i told elyse seemed to be the be all, end all of the entire concert.

the security guards started clearing out an aisle from the tip of the heart out into the crowd at some point in the concert. it didn't take a genius to figure out that aisle was for bono and at some point he was going to take a leap over that security gate and run right out into the crowd. so when i just happen to be *inside* this "hallway" of big bulky security guards, who am i to try to get out of it? i kept getting glimpses of megan over the shoulder of the security guard across from me, but the anticipation of being inside bono's line of path was too great.
bono finally took the leap at the end of the fly, and it was a flurry of wet sweaty bono leather in my face and meaty guard hands pushing me back as a guard followed him over the gate. then bono and the energy that always follows him were down the line and the crowd surged up to the stage again in hopes of getting closer while everyone else was busy looking back at bono's disappearing head in the masses. i lost a bit of my close position to two chinese girls who would not give way, and spent a majority of the rest of the concert leaning against the pressure they and the crowd behind them were putting on me. it's all okay, though, because i'm an aggressive girl and i don't crush easy. several people got rather bruised, megan included, i believe.

i adore the video screens during mysterious ways. i want a screen saver that dances like that. actually, they use those rising/falling video screens a good deal at the end of the show and every second of it is wonderful. i suppose i feel that way because it was all bright colors moving in psychedelic ways, and i'm a big fan of bright colors. i also love the way they project filtered lights onto the crowd, so that the arena looks like the inside of a big mirror ball. the filters were all kinds of things, depending on the song. one was actually a picture of a tye-dye design, another was constellation type graphics. during walk on, it is the lyrics to the end of the song, in big scribble fonts. and at the very very end, as the band leaves, they project onto the crowd behind the stage the suitcase/heart icon, really REALLY big. it took up the entire seating area. it's the only light left after the band leaves, so you can't miss it. in twenty or thirty seconds, the house lights come on, and roadies start breaking down the stage almost immediately.

[out of order things: i confess to not recognizing the fly when it first started. i knew i knew the song, and i even knew all the lyrics, but until he was several lines into it, i couldn't recall the title to save my life. also, since we were at the tip of the heart, half the time we were looking at bono he was walking away from us, up one side or another. i finally realized something that had always been bugging me. in black and white videos, his pants NEVER look like they fit right. they're always baggy or wrinkled in very weird places, like his butt or groin. it's always bothered me, because you figure with the money he has, he could at least get some nicely tailored pants. so last night i got to see him in person and also on the black and white video screens hanging above the stage. and i was musing over the fact that he does, in fact, have a very nice rear view, proven to me every time he walked up the ramp back to the stage. but when i looked up at the screens, it looked like his pants didn't fit again! so it's something in how black and white video films the way light catches on black pants. anyhow, i am relieved to know that (at least when it comes to pants) he doesn't have as bad fashion sense as i thought. hats, well, that's another matter com-pletely....]

okay, so as the roadies were breaking down the stage as quickly as it would go, the security were trying to hustle us out the door. i summoned the nerve to ask two guards where the back door was (i.e. where the band would exit). neither of them were helpful, although the second old man said "probably the service entry where their buses are, but you ain't gonna be able to go down there." hell if i wasn't going to try though. we went back to the car and got our sweaters, and then got a weetle turned around trying to find the service exit. no problemo, though, cause eventually i followed my beating heart to the right place.

the show was over by eleven-thirty, but it was one thirty at least before they sent adam out to pacify the crowd of fifty or so fans waiting across the street. i'm very proud of megan for grumbling only every ten minutes about how tired or achy she was. (i love you darling. ;-) i got him to sign my printed out directions to the phillips arena, simply because i didn't have the foresight to bring anything else. megan had him sign the tour program that she bought. adam was certainly in a hurry, and i was certainly indecicive and nervous about saying much of anything, but i did ask if we were going to hear acrobat on this tour. even if i'm not at the show, i know i can probably get a bootleg of it, and i really want to hear it live. i didn't have the nerve to explain the whole thing about how the band should play "into the heart" for the people in the heart. also, i felt like we were imposing on time that he'd really rather be getting a shower and a drink rather than pasting a smile on his face and dealing with girls like the one who launched a mile a minute when he was within hearing distance "oh-my-god-my-sister-turned-me-on-to-your-music-you-changed-my-life-and-i-just-want-to-thank-you-will-you-pose-for-a-picture-thank-you-oh-my-sob". i mean, sheesh.

so adam skimmed down the line with his tired but oh-so-polite smile, signing autographs as fast as his hand would let him, but megan and i decided to leave after we had ours. oh, in answer to my question, he just said "i don't know" in a soft accent that hinted at "we're not your personal jukebox, i'm tired of requests." i wonder if the people who stuck around after getting their autographs got to see anyone else in the band. wouldn't i be sick if i could have seen more members. we did see michael stipe leave in a black car, in his grey hooded sweatshirt. someone else claimed they saw anton corjbin but of the twenty or so people milling around the back entry, i don't know who they were referring to.

we got turned around again trying to get back to the car, but reached it without too much hassle and then went back to the hotel and died on the bed.

final verdict is that it lived up to all my expectations and then some. today i wonder if it even really happened. i have adam's scrawl across my folded and faded directions, and i have a concert poster, but it could have been a dream despite all that. it was so...*alive*. my own pulse, the beat of the crowd, the beat of the music, and oh my god seeing them and knowing they are real people and they're still everything and more, it all combined to this electric awareness that i don't have words for. and today, it seems...like it wasn't real, couldn't have been real.