Random Thoughts On The U2 Concert Last Night

A billion dollars can build you an amazing stadium…and being from Alabama, where college football stadiums become the 5th largest city in that state on gameday, well, Jerry World was impressive inside and out.

My friend and I avoided paying for parking by using his connections to park at a local hotel and take a trolley. Saved $30…and a lot of sitting in traffic. See, the traffic arteries getting in and out of Jerry World involve interstates and highways. The trolley, once out of the hullaballoo near the stadium, zipped around quickly because it was using local roads.

There aren’t any restaurants within a walking distance to the stadium front as we’d hoped…not even fast food. Maybe the best idea is to pick a restaurant that offers “free” parking with a $30 purchase with a trolley is the way to go on that.

Having used subways in New York city to get into and out of packed stadiums (both football and baseball games) and getting from New Jersey to Manhattan in 40 minutes, well, one more argument for public transportation that works looking at the entrance and exit of 70,000 cars to a small area–as if it needed more arguments.

Those bicycle cabs are a good idea for in-shape entrepreneurs. Low overhead, big tips, lots of folks wanting the ride.

The going rate for t-shirts is $40. I discovered that they broke my price threshold on that deal. I was prepared to go $30, but even for the “victory banner” purchase–where you can brag to your friends you got to see that show without saying a word–the extra $10 kept me away.

They sold party passes for these decks on either end of the stadium for $30. Some of the standing room seats in the east end zone were closer than some folks who paid big money. I’m getting old, because the idea of standing for 5 hours might keep me from cheap entry…when, in my younger club-going music-frenzy days, standing 5 hours was just part of the deal to get as close as you could to whoever was playing.

Philly cheesesteak and one bottled water at Jerry World: $15. Paid it, since I was hungry because no restaurants within walking distance…and I’m pretty sure the tip to a bike cabbie would’ve cost more in the end, not to mention that I’m not sure that we could’ve bike-cabbed back because the in-shape entrepreneurs likely wouldn’t have stayed and who knows if they troll the restaurants for business?

16-oz. soda $5. Beer, $9, another two price thresholds I wouldn’t break on those. I think I’m getting cheap in my middle-age.

The crowd had a signficant age range. Little kids. Young parents. Middle-agers like me. Old-timers. My guess as to the median age of the crowd, 35. Good music is good music regardless of when it was made. Last time I saw that kind of mix was at Tom Petty, both in Dallas and San Francisco.

On to the show:

Opening act, Muse. Very, very good band. Note to self: Get Kid1 to make a Muse mix CD. I think I would’ve gotten really into their set if I knew the words to the songs…even though I’d heard three of them on the radio a bunch. When they play 10 or 12 and you only know three, you say to yourself, “I’m pretty sure they’re good. I wish I knew more of their stuff.”

In between bands went by pretty quickly. Concession stands didn’t do much work, but there were no lines. There weren’t really any waits at restrooms and such, girls or guys. Although I did think it was funny that some guys discovered a “family” restroom sort of tucked away behind a column and monopolized that.

The stage for U2 was HUGE. They raised the 60-yard long by 25-yard high HD replay screen that spans the middle of Jerry World to get it out of the way of the 100-foot high stage (and let me say that the HD replay screen is IMPRESSIVE EVEN WHEN IT IS TURNED OFF!). They were in the “round,” and their main stage was inside a 50-yard ringed walkway. People inside that ring had great views, but then again, so did people who were 50-yards away who later in the show were front-row. Kind of allowed them to make the back half of the stadium feel more intimate…well, as intimate as a show that large can feel.

There’s a reason U2 are big-time rock stars. They can draw 70,000 people in while at the same time blowing you away with sound.

Speaking of sound, I don’t think there’s a way to deliver GREAT sound to a stadium that large. Doesn’t matter if it’s an outdoor venue or domed stadium, good sound that “big” I’m convinced is a difficult task.

Best moment: A crowd that large singing a cappela to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Stand By Me.”

Worst moment: Bono trying to make an impassioned plea at times for the president of Burma and their African relief organization, both of which got lost in bad sound.

Best songs: “Vertigo.” “Beautiful Day.” “I’ll Go Crazy (If I Don’t Go Crazy) Tonight.”

Worst songs: The entire final encore. Too slow. Too preachy.

Song they didn’t play: Pride (In The Name of Love). How do they NOT play that?

After the show, it took us half an hour to get from our seats to the trolley. Another half-hour to get from the trolley to the car, and 40 minutes to get home from there.

So, overall, it was a good show, a good time, and I’m glad I went becaue I’ve never seen U2 live and have wanted to since college. Even if I didn’t get a t-shirt.

But here’s what I know: I’m much more into going to some dive club that seats 1,000 or so to hear a really good band than I am going to an arena with 70,000. I mean, I’ve seen “Stomp” at the Orpheum in New York, with it’s tight seating for 1,500 and narrow venue and the touring show with 8,000 seats in a lovely venue in Fair Park and there’s no comparison that the intimacy made a huge difference in the experience. In this case, it was a good experience for what it was. But what it was isn’t really my preference.

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