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City of Blinding Lights (and Rain)

.: 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.

One Response to “City of Blinding Lights (and Rain)”

  1. Tony Says:

    That Keane is really something. Manchester United, Irish international. And a musical career too.

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