All Because of U2 / The Sun Shines on Jess

Posted in Music on October 15th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: My thirteenth visit to NYC is over tomorrow. Yesterday, the rain stopped in the early evening, after continuing non-stop since Wednesday morning. I heard that during this past week, more rain fell in NYC in a seven-day period than in the past ninety years, but I haven’t been able to verify this information. States of emergency and flood alerts were declared in parts of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and at least eleven people have died in the area since the rain began last Saturday.

Today, however, the sun came out, in time for Jessica‘s wedding. I didn’t get much sleep last night, following my second U2 show in three days. Typical cold symptoms, sore throat, stuffed sinuses, ears hurting, etc. I’ve been gulping down COLD-fX in hopes of fighting it off. Nonetheless, I boarded an NJ Transit train at Penn Station in the morning, and road it to Summit NJ, where Jessica’s wedding ceremony was taking place. Wearing a black long-sleeved shirt with a black linen sports jacket was not a wise move, as the sun was quite warm. It took me a good 45 minutes to cool down inside the church before the wedding. The ceremony was heartfelt and memorable, with Jessica’s fiancé, John Vasilenko, aka Johnny V, overcome with emotion at times as he spoke his vows – these are two people very much in love, and it was a joy to be a part of it. There were a small number of people there with whom I was acquainted, including Jessica’s family, and some of her local friends. The reception was immediately afterwards, and last all afternoon into the early evening. The food was delicious.

.: Last night, I went back to Madison Square Gardens, and watched U2 perform for the second time in three days, their last of six shows in NYC (the first having been one hour on Late Night With Conan O’Brien.) This time around, the band played 24 songs; I’d say we got our money’s worth. This set list was posted on the U2 site, as the official set list for the fifth show; compare the two, and you can see they made some last minute changes, dropping Walk On, a favorite of mine, which I would have loved to hear.

I stayed for both encores, and heard All Because of You, my favorite song on their last album, and the band played Vertigo for a second time that night as a finale. I was sitting at the far end of the Gardens, facing the band directly, a good seat to be sure. I’m glad I went a second time, it was much fun to see this band after listening to them for a quarter century. Here’s a good shot of the curtains of lights used during some of the songs.

U2 Pictures

Posted in Music on October 13th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Some reviews and photos from the 11 Oct 2005 concert at MSG, which Mary and I attended, are up on the U2tours.com website. This review includes photos taken from approximately the same section of the Gardens in which Mary and I were sitting (or standing, actually.) You can see the oval stage, including one shot with the oval lit in red light. Here is one more good picture of the oval. From the 10 Oct 2005 show, here is a shot of the curtains of lights that appeared during some of the songs.

Other pictures are available within fan reviews from the MSG shows on October 8th and October 7th. I’m thinking I might try to get a ticket for the Friday show…

.: The rain in NYC has been falling since Wednesday morning, with no immediate let up in sight. Oh, and call it a weakness, but I was able to find a ticket to the U2 show on Friday night at MSG, so…I’m going again. Life is short, let’s have some fun.

City of Blinding Lights (and Rain)

Posted in Music, NYC on October 12th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: First, I can report that my friend Noella is ok, but had a series of unfortunate events, including horrendous traffic problems and an illness, which prevented her from making it to the show. I heard from her today, so all is well, although she needs some serious downtime.

Today, NYC is experiencing its second torrential downpour since Friday. Yesterday was a glorious NYC day for me, however. Around 1130 hrs, my North Carolinian friend from Baltimore, Mary White, arrived on the bus to hang out with me for the day. With the rain having subsided, we took full advantage and walked all over. After shopping for a New York Yankees souvenir for her friend (in the dumps with strep throat and the Yankees’ 2005 demise), we went to Greenwich Village and had a coffee, where we caught up on our lives, and compared notes about everything from spirituality to teddy bears. I showed her the Strand, and afterwards we headed back to The Leo House, where we rested briefly before heading to Rockefeller Center, trying to find the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Eventually we found it, and Mary chose a bear, bought a Yankees uniform, and built her bear. This involves choosing a bear, giving it to an employee who works a machine that stuffs it with fluffy things (feathers, I assumed). She then had to choose a little cloth heart, which Mary had to kiss on both sides, and make a wish, and other stuff, and then heart was put into the bear, and it was sown up.

Next, the bear had to be given a name, birthdate, etc., so I suggested Derek, given that Mr Jeter is Captain of the Yankees. After completing the online form, Mary paid for the bear and outfit, was given the Official Birth Certificate, and then we went to the “dressing room”, a little shelf near the back of the store, to dress the bear. As we fussed with Derek to get his baseball uniform on, Mary remarked that it was if we were putting clothes on our baby, so we played the fussing parents, ensuring the little Derek was dressed properly before putting him in his carrying box! 🙂

Then it was off to see U2. We arrived around 7:15, and by 8:00, MSG was about 25% full. At 8:05, Keane took the stage, and rocked the Gardens for about 40 minutes. Keane is an interesting combination: keyboards, vocals, and percussion only. The lead singer, Tom Chaplin, has an amazing, powerful, and unique voice, and fits together with Tim Rice-Oxley’s somewhat minimalist keyboard style quite well.

Pumped up, and with the stadium approaching capacity as people flowed in during Keane’s set, U2 took the stage around 9:30. Immediately everyone rose, and stayed standing for the majority of the set. The band was on one end of a large oval, which allowed band members, mostly Bono of course, to wander about during the show. A waterfall of lights came down from behind the band, and the colours were amazing and brilliant. Mary and I were sitting behind the band, with a north-by-north-east view of the stage. But the lights did not detract from the visibility, allowing those sitting behind to still see the band through the curtain. The lights were retracted during the show a few times, re-appearing at programmed times, awash with different displays of colours, with one offering of flags of different countries, following a song in which Bono appealed for an end to poverty.

What can I say? The show was incredible. My God, does this band rock out and give it everything. It took me 25 years to finally see them, but it was worth the wait. When the lights would go up in the arena from time to time, we would see 20,000 fans standing, jumping, singing and rejoicing. One guy standing next to Mary and I didn’t stop jumping for the entire show, except during the slower tunes. Say what you will about Bono, but the man works the crowd into a frenzy, one filled with joy and expectation of better things to come. On most songs, the audience turned into the largest choir I’d even seen. Near the end, Bono asked us to open our cells phones, and the arena lights went down. He said we would turn the Gardens into a mini-galaxy, and that was exactly how it looked. “Talk about a 21st century moment,” Bono noted, before beginning another tune.

I could say more, but I’ll leave it at that. Unfortunately, Mary had to catch a 2330 hrs bus back to Baltimore, and I wanted to ensure she made it safely to the Port Authority station, so we left during the last song, and missed the encore. But no worries – it was an incredible, rewarding show, and I saw it with a dear friend, which was the perfect ending to the perfect day. Here’s the set list:

  1. City of Blinding Lights
  2. Vertigo
  3. Elevation
  4. Out Of Control (first single from 1980)
  5. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  6. Beautiful Day
  7. Miracle Drug
  8. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  9. Love and Peace or Else
  10. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  11. Bullets The Blue Sky
  12. Miss Sarajevo
  13. Pride (In The Name of Love)
  14. Where The Streets Have No Name
  15. One

The encore followed, of course, but I don’t know which songs we missed. No matter, there will be another time to see them someday.

Strange Times in NYC

Posted in NYC on October 10th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: I am sitting in Starbucks on 23rd St and 8th Ave in NYC, trying to sort through the evening. Among other things and in unrelated events, I missed the Les Paul show, and my digital camera was stolen.

Earlier in the day, I saw the movie Junebug and bought a few copies of Earth Mother, the amazing new book by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by the Dillons.

A few weeks back, I ordered two tickets to see Les Paul and his trio at the Iridium Jazz Club. A friend was to meet me around 7:30, 30 minutes before the show began. She called about an hour earlier, saying she was about to leave, and would call me when she made it to midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately, she didn’t show, and as of this writing, I’m still not sure what happened to her, so I’m a bit worried. I sold my tickets to an older couple from the UK, who were really hoping to see Les Paul.

Unable to reach her, I wandered around the Broadway and Times Square districts for a while, walked down 42nd Street to the Port Authority Bus Station, then hopped an E train back to 23rd Street. Once on the train, an announcement was made that it wouldn’t stop at 23rd Street because of emergency track maintenance, so I had to get off at 34th and catch a C train the rest of the way. But while waiting there, an NYC Transit official was yelling at everyone to go under the track to the other side of the subway station, because the E and C trains weren’t running on the track where they normally do, but instead were running on the express track.

So I got up with everyone else, went to the other side, got the next C train; while sitting on it, I realized I left my knapsack on the bench on which I has been sitting while waiting for the C train ; I panicked, and when I got to 23rd, I asked the station attendant if he could call back to the 34th Station for me, and I hopped a train back to 34th.

When I got there, an old African-American lady saw me and yelled at me; she said she found my knapsack, and turned it in to one of the workers; I found the subway worker, and he had the knapsack; unfortunately, someone had rifled it, and took my maps, umbrella, and *sigh*, my digital camera.

A lapse in judgement on my part. So tonight, I am feeling somewhat deflated on a number of fronts. At least it didn’t rain today.

Black Sheets of (NY) Rain

Posted in NYC on October 8th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

Today it has been raining non-stop, Manhattan is soaked, and the humidity is high. I could hardly sleep last night, if at all. At noon, I met my friends from New Haven CT, Susan and David, at Grand Central Station. We went here for some food; I had oyster stew, which was more like oyster soup. I “slurped” down three oysters in the shell. Next we road the subway uptown, and walked a few blocks in the rain to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw this exhibit, called Prague, The Crown of Bohemia, 1347-1437. Afterwards we took the subway back downtown, and had coffees at this hip place. It was very hot and humid there, and we stood for about 15 trying minutes waiting for a table. We walked about in the rain next, eventually ending up here for something to eat; the place is a few blocks away from NYU, and was filled with groups of preppy-dressed university students, most of them future YITs, no doubt.

When finished, we rushed back on a subway to Grand Central Station, then hopped the subway shuttle to Times Square, and walked fast to AMC Empire Cimema 25 to see Good Night, and Good Luck. This is one of the best films of the year, and is directed and co-written by George Clooney. The movie is in b&w, and takes place in the early 1950s. Based on true events, the subject matter is Edward R Murrow, the ground-breaking television show he created in the early 1950s with Fred Friendly, called See It Now, and their efforts to expose the inadequacies and lies of Joseph McCarthy and his hearings. The movie’s time period is during the height of McCarthyism, as Murrow learns of the dismissal from the US Air Force of Milo Radulovich. Murrow reports on Radulovich’s dismissal, and the fallout from the broadcast leads to a dramatic confrontation with McCarthy. The realistic feel of the film is enhanced by its black and white cinematography, attention to detail, and the use of real footage from the time period. It’s a powerful movie, with themes that resonate today. Highly recommended, see it when it comes to your town.

Note to self: when you purchase a $24 Metro card for unlimited seven-day riding on the NYC subway, don’t use it once, and then drop it on the subway tracks.

Chelsea Evening

Posted in NYC, Travel on October 7th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Greetings from a Starbucks café in NYC, where it is drizziling and about 22C, actually kind of pleasant. The flight in was uneventful, and for the first time, I ate no airline junk munchies, and drank only ice water on the two flights (Edmonton-Toronto-La Guardia). I haven’t been here since June of 2003, when Geoff and I attended SLA, but it feels like I was here last week. I’m staying at The Leo House for (at least) the seventh time, and they recognized me when I came through the door. In the immediate neighbourhood, I have noticed a few new shops and restaurants and such, which is good, and G will be pleased to know that the Krispy Kreme is still close by! 🙂 Not that I need another doughnut.

So that said, I’m off to find some fresh fruit and bottled water…

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