U2: Holding Onto Love

One of the many reasons I love U2 is the way they keep reinventing themselves. It’s not easy for artists to keep moving forward creatively, especially in a collaborative way. If it were easy, more people would manage it, right? This band makes me believe in synergy. Their vision is responsive, fluid, organic. I’m not saying they’re perfect people or a perfect group! It’s so frustrating to read snarky comments attacking from either end, too goody-goody, too carbon-producing, too showy, not showy enough– why These guys are real, you can smell that. And I’m so grateful for them, and for the chance to hear them, live, with my husband.

Here’s the set list:?Opening Act: Muse

Main Set: Breathe, Magnificent, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Stand By Me, Elevation, Your Blue Room, Beautiful Day – Blackbird, New Year’s Day, Stuck In A Moment, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On

Encores: One, Amazing Grace, Where the Streets Have No Name, Ultraviolet, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender

I loved — I expected to love — the two classics when they popped up — I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name. These two are my own personal anthems — you could play either one at my funeral, then say a prayer and have lunch — and you’d have done me right.

Both songs are about the Kingdom of God, no matter how you want to describe that reality, or how preacher-dorky that sounds. There is an undercurrent to the lyrics that says it’s all right to not get it right, to not achieve, to mess up, and to be sustained by the vision, no matter what the reality might be.

Sitting there with my husband, I felt how we are knit together by the music, by our history, 25 years, years of feeling our way through careers, through parenting, through trying to do right, to get it right, but always so imperfect, of course, always just approaching, always the mistakes. But underneath all that, the love grows, it becomes more than either of us, and the lyrics and music lift that up.

Love really is beyond any two people, any one group, any nation, love is transcendent and forgiving. It is the impulse that lies under everything if we just stop and notice.

Okay, while I’m being rhapsodic, here’s something: I’m a sucker for duets. Maybe it’s my passion for the intimacy of two souls together, but I appreciate 2 voices together. Which is to say — Bono and the Edge did a duet version of Stuck in a Moment that was just piercing.

The night was over so soon! But the finale was fitting. A stanza of?Amazing Grace?a capella, and With or Without You and Moment of Surrender, each just so tender–if bass-pounding-through-your-sternum can be called tender–and it can be. Love is not schmaltzy, and love is not perfect. But it’s powerful. It’s the most powerful thing there is.

Last night I suddenly realized: How have I never noticed that every single one of these songs is a love song?

You could tell Bono was glad to be in DC, he had kind words for America, many times over. Gave a shout-out to Nancy Pelosi and President Kagame of Rwanda, both in attendance. He dedicated Beautiful Day to the late Eunice Shriver and New Year’s Day to the late Ted Kennedy. He brought a turban-wearing Sikh fan on stage, holding a US flag, onto the stage during Sunday Bloody Sunday, as images of Tehran crossed the jumbotron. He dedicated the whole night to Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader of Burma who is under house arrest. Tonight we sing for you, Bono said. There was a message from Bishop Desmond Tutu that made me think: innocence is not lost. The images of doves, rising, linger in my mind.

I bought the T-shirt.*

EDITED TO ADD: okay, all that rhapsody and how did I forget to mention that in the course of the evening we had to call AAA to jumpstart our dead battery, not once, but twice. A trifle. When you have a car, a cell phone, a AAA account, and a portapotty, really, how bad can it be?


3 responses to “U2: Holding Onto Love”

  1. I told myself the T-shirt purchase would benefit the workers in Africa. I was definitely feeling expansive!

  2. Oh, and I bought the t-shirt too. I had semi-resolved not too because they are so expensive, but I’m a sucker for souvenir shirts. Then after the show I just had to have one.

  3. Ruth – you have articulated so well why it was a great night. I agree, that duet was marvelous. And “Stand By Me” – I’ll never forget that. Thanks for posting the set list – as time goes on, the memory fades and I am glad to have a record of what they played and in what order. I keep thinking about those doves too!

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