A few thoughts on last nights U2 concert at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa:
--The trip there was nothing like anything I'd ever seen. We were in heavy traffic the entire drive from Orlando to Tampa. A normally hour and a half drive stretched to 3 and a half hours. Jerry Rice was driving and God bless him, because I can only imagine how frustrating to be behind the wheel in that mess.
--On the plus side we missed the heavier rain, it was just misting by the time we got there and the moisture kept the temperature relatively comfortable. Broiling in the hot sun on that field would have been pretty miserable. Plus we got a brilliant rainbow: "After the flood all the colors came out"
|Jerry and Heather Rice and me during the OneRepublic set. The spectacular rainbow seemed to be a sign of good things to come!|
--Me along with hundreds of other fans had trouble with credit card entry and had to get paper tickets printed out. Those who did not get their tickets through Ticketmaster appeared to have difficulty getting paper tickets and I heard some heated arguments at the ticket booth while I was in line. That additional delay caused us to get on the field after OneRepublic, the opening band had taken the stage.
--Despite arriving as late as we did, we got a very good position, maybe 10 people back from the B stage. Bono and the boys were very close during the opening four songs and I've always enjoyed being able to see the band as people not ants on a tiny faraway stage or giants on a massive screen.
Bono during "One" during the encore portion of the show. Heather shot this video using my camera and it gives you a good sense of how close we were.
--I enjoyed this show much more than the one at Soldier Field in Chicago about two weeks ago. It's no fault of the band. I liked my location better this time and even more importantly, I wasn't hungry. In Chicago I'd eaten nothing since lunch and I was so hungry by the time U2 took the stage that I had little energy to really get into the show. Overall it was a pleasure to hear songs from the Joshua Tree album that I'd never heard live before. "Running to Stand Still" was a special moment--one of my favorite songs sounded beautiful live. "Exit" was incredibly intense--a challenging song done very well. There are not many songs left on my "wish list" to see live. "Zoo Station" is one I still would like to see, and until I've seen U2 end a concert with the classic psalm "40" I'll feel that my live U2 experience is incomplete. The panoramic screen used for the Joshua Tree album kept the high standard of visual experiences that U2 has maintained for decades.
|This is actually a photo from the June 3 show in Chicago. Absolutely epic experience to "travel" down this open road with the band as they sing "Where the Streets Have No Name"|
I've a tradition of always recording a snippet of the U2 classic "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" at every U2 concert I attend. I believe they have performed it at all eight of the U2 show's I've attended. You'll note the band is now much further away. For most of The Joshua Tree album segment (they played every song on their seminal album in the original track order) they were on the main stage. In my personal opinion our spot was optimal. The main stage was very high and those at the very front there would have had to crane their necks to look up at the band and wouldn't get the full affect of that vast screen.
--Bono made a genuine effort to pitch a big tent. "Left and right are welcome here tonight" he said, "We can find common ground by reaching for higher ground." There was one little dig at President Trump, prior to "Exit" but beyond that the band avoided taking explicit sides on the issues that currently divide our nation. My friends Heather and Jerry, both staunch Trump boosters came away happy for the most part. And I, an equally staunch critic of the President, came away happy too. That's no small feat. Especially, when in truth this is probably one of the most political concerts U2 has done since the days when Bono waved the white flag and didn't "mean to bug ya" as he preached against apartheid. Everything from the opening song choice of Sunday Bloody Sunday ("I can't believe the news today, I can't close my eyes and make it go away" and "when fact is fiction, and TV reality") to the visuals of the Syrian refugee camp during "Miss Sarejevo" were designed to send a specific message to those that had ears to hear. How were they able to pull this off without alienating their conservative fans? By combining their progressive ideals with a genuine love and respect for America. It's hard to get mad at guys who clearly think so much of our country and it's people. Instead of lecturing their American fans, their goal seemed to be appeal to the better angels of our national nature.
--Seeing this show with Heather and Jerry was such a blast. This was Heather's first U2 gig since she and Esther Pierre Louis were high school seniors and saw them in Lakeland at the opening show of their legendary Zoo TV tour. I remember how upset they were that the band wasn't playing any of their old songs. So for Heather, this was a chance to see the concert she'd expected to see back in 1991. And Heather is such an enthusiastic concert-goer. I'd seen her Facebook posts live from Tom Petty and Justin Timberlake among others and I knew we'd have a good time. And we did!
--The stadiums are leaving a lot of money on the table. At the end of the concert we were hot, parched, and hungry, yet all of the concessions and vendors were closed. Even the merch tables were just about sold out of their wares. I'm sure we weren't the only ones who would have paid a premium for a cold bottle of water or a hot dog on our way out of the stadium after the show.
--We sat parked in the parking lot for an hour waiting for traffic to move so we could leave. We were all in the mood for Taco Bell, but we couldn't find one that was open. We ended up going through a Wendy's Drive-Thru where they were out of virtually everything. It was 1 A.M. before we finally got on the road to Orlando. We passed the time on the drive back, singing along at the top of our lungs to Tom Petty favorites from our youth. A perfect end to a great night!