Saturday, August 20, 2011

U2 360° Tour...or "Marking something off my bucket list"

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
U2, Florence and the Machine
Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
$74
See all the photos from this show here

When I was 14 years old, I made my first bucket list. And perched right at the top of that bucket list was "Go to a U2 concert." For the next 17 years I watched their tours, always just barely missing this show or that show, with each one being juuuuuuust out of reach. Then lo and behold, they announced a Nashville date! I'd managed to get a presale code from a friend at a radio station, but when I went to purchase the ticket, there were none available. No sweat...I just waited until the day they went on sale to the public, assuming that there was a limited amount of presale tickets. I was up early on the morning they went on sale, and within minutes of their release...they were gone. GONE. WHY??? How was it that I was waiting when they went on sale, yet there wasn't even a single ticket to be had??? Once again, the elusive U2 concert ticket had slipped from my grasp. I tried to console myself by saying that I would take a road trip to one of the other tour dates at some point, but deep down, I was so, so disappointed to have missed out on the last Nashville date they will probably ever have.

So on Saturday afternoon, I was at a thrift store, blissfully unaware and shopping for some new shorts. When my phone rang, it was quite the shock to hear my mom on the other end say "Uh, did you know that there are still tickets available for the U2 show tonight??" Um...NO, I did NOT know that there were still tickets available!! There hadn't been any tickets available for a good six or seven months! She quickly said that they had section L seats and field level general admission seats. WHAT??? Field level was what I had wanted back in the fall but couldn't get! I quickly ran out to my car and drove home, and found a glorious, beautiful, amazingly wonderful field level general admission ticket waiting right there on the Ticketmaster website, and MY name was about to be on it!

Mom and I both purchased our tickets while we were online. It was about 3:30 at that point, and the show started at 7:00. Mom asked me what time I wanted to leave for the show, and of course my answer was "NOW!!" I told them to give me about half an hour, so I threw on some cute clothes, did my makeup, fixed my hair and was in the process of throwing on some shoes when they arrived. After a quick stop to pick up the tickets at Kroger, and for dinner at Burger King (so we could eat in the car, and not have to wait around at a restaurant and be late, duh!), we were on the road to Vanderbilt Stadium!

Dad dropped us off at the McDonald's at Centennial Park so we could walk in and hopefully avoid a lot of the traffic right around the venue. Along the way, we ran into someone who was signing people up for Bono's One campaign. Mom and I both signed up, and ended up with One wrist straps...very cool! My "tunnel" entrance to the venue came before mom's entrance, so we said our see-you-laters and decided to just meet up at the McDonald's on the way out, so we wouldn't have to try to find each other in the crowd by the stadium. On the way in, a quick peek at the merch booth showed me that the simple tour shirts were $40!! No way! I really had to convince myself to spend $30 on that Boondox shirt the weekend before...no way could I spend $40 on a shirt when I'd already impulsively spent $74 that day on the ticket!

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Once I walked out onto the field, I was immediately taken back by how enormous the 360 stage was! It was like a giant spider that spanned the entire width of the field, and probably back at least as far as the 30 or 40 yard line, and it easily protruded at least 5 or 6 stories into the air. Unbelievable! That was the moment when it hit me...I was getting to mark something off my bucket list that night! I was gonna see U2! Ahhh!

I walked up as far as I could, and there was already a fairly large crowd forming at the barricade. I eventually found an area that had a few people who had laid out a blanket and were sitting all over it...WTF?? This isn't Shakespeare in the Park! This is a U2 show! Why would people be so inconsiderate and selfish as to bring a large blanket and block off a huge area of space at the front of the standing room only area? So I just walked around their blanket and stood in front of it since there was room between their blanket and the next people in line. No way were they gonna inconvenience me! At this point, it was around 5:30, so I had at least an hour and a half to kill. I chatted with a few people on Facebook on my phone, and exchanged a few texts with mom about how excited we both were.

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There's mom, in the purple shirt to the right of the Geico sign

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At a little after 7:00pm, Florence and the Machine took the stage. I'd never heard of them before, and I'm not even sure what kind of genre they belong to. The lead singer sort of sang opera, and ran around the stage through the whole show, letting her dress blow in the breeze. She was a good singer, but I didn't really think their performance was all that great. At one point, I texted mom and said something about how they were sort of like the bread they put on the table before a really good meal...it's alright, but really you're just thinking "Just get on with the main course!!" hahaha

Once they were done, people started to compress a little, and a crowd converged on the people sitting on the blanket. One of the ladies even started to whine about how people were standing all over her blanket! Some people, I swear! Just before U2 was about to take the stage, a large group of people headed by a little girl started to snake their way up to the front, and stopped directly behind me, between me and the people from the blanket. Of course this made them whine about how long they had been waiting, and how they had to move. And I agree that it was rude the way the people barged in front of everyone, but why whine about it? If you don't like it, shove your way back in front of them! One guy tried to cut directly in front of me, and I stuck out my elbow to block him and told him that he had to go behind me, thus securing my spot. I guess I only understand this tactic because I go to so many shows. Eventually the people whined and complained enough that security got called, and security did nothing of course, since it was all general admission standing room only (and unfortunately, being a jerk isn't enough to get you thrown out).

Once the show started, the crowd absolutely erupted in applause and screams. It really was kind of surreal to be standing there and see all the guys from U2 right there in person in front of me! Unbelievable! As soon as they started to sing, the entire stage started to erupt into a million different colors, with lights and LCDs all choreographed perfectly with the music. The giant LCD screen above the stage was great for showing closeups of the band, though I was close enough to see a great deal of the action with my own eyes. And luckily once the show started, the group that had barged their way in started to mellow out, so everyone got a good view without anyone being rude.

One of the first songs they sang was Mysterious Ways, which has always been one of my favorites. At a certain point, I started to lose track of what they were singing and when, but they ended up playing basically all of their biggest hits. Mom's favorite is Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, which was also one of the first songs of the show. They sang Beautiful Day, Zooropa, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Will Follow, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride, which is one of my very favorites!!

The way the stage is set up, they have a main stage, then a runway that circles the stage, jutting way out into the audience. From where I was standing, there was a barricade about 5 feet in front of me, and the runway began about five feet beyond that. This means that at times, when the band members would walk out onto the runway to play or sing, I was right around 10-15 feet away from them! I got some absolutely amazing pictures when they would get close to me! I didn't realize in advance that they would actually come out onto the runway.

The highlight of the show (if not one of the highlights of my entire year!) was when they sang One. One has been my very favorite song almost since it was released. Other songs come and go, but One will forever be my favorite. so to hear Bono sing One right there in front of me...to feel the emotion and the passion...too feel the unity of everyone in the venue at that moment...it was truly amazing! For a few brief moments, I was completely lost in the music. Nothing else mattered in the entire world right then except that song, and savoring every note while it lasted. It was really a moment that I will never forget. Hearing my lifelong favorite song in the world being sung by the man who wrote it...life doesn't get much better than moments like these :-)

Enough words...onto the photos!

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By the end of the show, I was spent emotionally (and physically, since I had been standing with my feet planted in basically the same spot for like 6 hours at that point). As the crowd started to filter out, I spotted Mom up in the stands, but lost track of her when she turned around to leave. I looked around briefly for her when I got out as far as the merch booth, but when I didn't spot her easily, I walked on to the McDonald's where we'd agreed to meet. When I arrived, she was waiting on a bench outside, and we were both beyond excruciatingly thirsty!! Once Dad made his way over to pick us up, we stopped for some drinks then made our way back home, still floating on a cloud from the whole night.

Undoubtedly this show will be stored in my mind as one of the most memorable. It may not have been the craziest or the most intense show I've ever been to, but it was certainly the largest and most extravagant, and one of the most anticipated. I've literally wanted to see U2 in concert for 20 years, and making it to a show after all those years was truly awesome. It was larger than life, and gave me this overwhelming feeling of being a part of something that was bigger than myself. In a word, it was amazing. And the fact that I was SO CLOSE to the band members at points made it even better!! Definitely...DEFINITELY...worth the money for the ticket.

-Julie

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