Saturday, December 17, 2005

All I Want is U2!

I know all the words to all the songs. I know the band's mannerisms, collectively and individually. I have concert DVDs. I have live bootlegs. I've read "U2 Show" cover to cover, enough to see countless grammatical errors. I know what a U2 show should look and sound like. Yet I'd never experienced it. Until now. I had to drive through snow, skip work, cough and hack, and lose sleep to do it, but I'd do it again without hesitation.

When U2 announced plans for the Vertigo Tour to stop in Omaha, I just had to have tickets. The band had never played in Nebraska, and tickets sold out in 20 minutes. I search on eBay for months, but didn't see antyhing I wanted. It was all upper deck tickets.

I'd given up hope, even though Becky said she'd help me look for tickets. It just didn't seem to be working out. With the show coming Thursday, I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday getting outbid for lower level seats on eBay. When I was out shooting my stories Wednesday, I kept eBay up on my cell phone, and was refreshing at every possible minute. Wednesday night I had a church Christmas party. I even got online there looking for tickets. I pretty much gave up, and shut the monitor off on the computer. There was one auction with 2 GA tickets, but I didn't think it would work out. Well, my phone vibrated (I hate it when people leave their annoying ringers on all the time). I missed Becky's call, but couldn't believe it when I found out she'd won the auction I'd turned off.

I hadn't been feeling well, battling a cough and pleghm for a week. After the youth group party at church (where we had 200 middle schoolers, which is about 199 too many) I hit Perkins with some friends. But a plate of appetizers at 11:00 pm didn't sit well, especially with the cough and pleghm, and anxiety about finally seeing U2. I didn't have to lie to call in Sick Thursday. I was sick.

I told my friend Sara she could come with me if I got tickets. She's not a huge U2 fan, but she's a good music fan, although she leans a little more to the pop side, but she gets it. We took off about 10am Thursday, and quickly encountered snow. The previous two days had temps in the 40s, so that it was a setback to see snow flurries, although it wasn't bad. After some lunch, we set off to find the Qwest Center, which turned out to be pretty easy. It's right off the interstate. Thanks to my web-enabled phone, I'd been emailing Becky, who in term emailed Jerry to find out what I could about the Omaha tour stop. I love Gmail, and I've learned to like having it on my phone.

Brother-in-law Matt emailed: Do you have your "Please let me play drums with you" poster? That made me laugh!

Jerry informed me the parking lot was opening at 3, and some people had started lining up at 10PM the night before. We drove by Qwest Center Omaha at 1:45, and did not see a sole line up. Not a one. That was discouraging. After a pitstop, we drove around for a few minues, and when we came back, around 2:10, the parking lot was opening. The parking lot is seriously across the street (a narrow 4 laner) from the arena. It was probably 27 degrees out, not horrible, but certainly chilly. The prospect of standing in line was not a pleasant one. Fortunately, the good folks at the Qwest Center were smart. The building also houses a convention center, so we lined up in the big lobby area of the buidling. The fans I met were generally pleasant. There was one dude with no filter, who thoguht through everything outloud, like some naseous, braying jackass. He was trying to ditch his GA tickets and get seats, but only if his friend wouldn't be mad, but his friend just layed on the ground and zoned out, and the dude talked non stop for 20 minutes about it all, and finally they left.

Around 5 they lined us up, roughly by number. I was 183. When the lady with the bullhorn hollered to get ready, we didn't get into exact number order, but no one cared. Then they announced they were forming two lines, including one for fan club members. Turns out the tickets I got were fan club tickets! Score! We moved up quite a distance from where we'd been. The line then progressed into an empty convention room. Finally it looked like some real organization, with lines, and barricades and all. They scanned our tickets as we went through, which was a relief. I had the print-at-home ticketfast variety, which was a source of concern, until I was waved through. Then we sat in line for an hour. Vendors were set up in this area, but unfortunately that meant not-so-cheap cheap beer. The Bud Light was especially popular with the guys a short distance ahead of us. Around 6 the line finally moved, and the laptops were in place. I handed my tickets over, but no ellipse. All the same, with the low number, we were in good shape to be just outside the ellipse. We went to the far left side of the ellipse, on The Edge's side. I wasn't at the front, but only had one, sometimes two people in front of me, so my view was pretty much unevaded.

The place filled up, but I didn't see anyone I knew. I spotted a guy with a red star on his hat, and then it struck me that it looked like a VOL hat, so I asked, and sure enough, it was.

On the stage sat about a half-dozen black wooden folding chairs. That intrigued me. Why would Kanye West have that? I wondered if he had a string section, but someone else mused that's where the lap dancers would be. I hoped I was right. Turns out I was. Several young string players, all female, none older than 25 I'd guess sat down. There were two cellos (I think), four violins, a DJ, and even a harp.

Kanye West came out, no music playing, carrying a beat-up boom box. He set it on a table, set a mic next to it, and said he had a tape he wanted to play. He put a tape in, hit play, and started with "Hear 'em Say", with a track playing the Maroon 5 singer's part. I didn't realize I knew the song until then. To start the second song, "Gold Digger" he went back to the boom box, and did the same tape routine. But he went back to he well a few too many times, and the gimmick ran dry by the end of the set. Obviously his tracks weren't coming from there. It was clever the first time, amusing the second time, and by the end, it was just plain annoying.

Of the musicians, all seemed like typical orchestra players, accept one, who threw her hands in the air and waved them like she didn't care when she wasn't playing her violin. It was pretty annoying. She was way too, well, not black to get away with it.

Everyone near the ellipse chatted away between sets. There were a couple of guys who were seeing their 10th concert of this tour. One had seen 11 on the Elevation tour. And the others around us were all newbies, so it was a nice mix. To my left, in the front row I could see Pete Ricketts, of Ameritrade, a Republican candidate for US senate. Maybe someday he'll run for governor, and Paul Scurvy can be his running mate. And a few rows behind him is our attorney general Jon Bruning who loves the spotlight, and is prosecuting a 22 year old who got a 13 year old pregnant, then took her across state lines to marry her in Kansas, where that sort of thing is apparently allowed. Two Republican politicans were the only people I knew in the crowd. How sad is that?

City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo / Jesus Walks (snippet) / She Loves You (snippet)
I Will Follow
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / In A Little While (snippet)
Beautiful Day / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (snippet) / Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (snippet)
Original Of The Species
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own / Torna A Surriento (snippet)
Love And Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah (snippet)
Bullet The Blue Sky / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet) / The Hands That Built America (snippet)
Miss Sarajevo
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where The Streets Have No Name
One / All I Want Is You (snippet)

Encore 1:
Until The End Of The World
Mysterious Ways
With Or Without You

Encore 2:
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
Crumbs From Your Table

The energy was amazing, especially for the first several songs, up to and including Beautiful Day. I Will Follow especially rocked, and sounded super tight. I had so hoped they would play that, and it was blistering. If you walk away, walk away... wow. It was good.

After throwing in a little Happy Christmas, things slowed down, and Bono explained the only reason they'd scheduled Omaha was to make it to Warren Buffet's Christmas party. Then he dedicated Original of the Species to the Buffet family.

Love and Peace is by far my least favorite song from How to dismantle. After reading Jerry's report about Atlanta's lukewarm audience participation, I was nervous about Omaha, a town U2 had never played. But the fans stepped up and sung along with Sunday Bloody Sunday as I'd always dreamed. During SBS, Bono said it was our song now, and it led directly to Bullet the Blue Sky, which is an amazing live song.

After playing One, The Edge started playing the riff to All I Want is You. I went nuts, as did a few others I could see. Then Bono started singing, and people got into it. But after a verse, and chorus, the song ended, Bono said goodnight, and they walked off.

Until the End of the World is right up near the top on my list. I was so hoping they would play it, and it sounded great. Mysterious Ways, like Love and Peace, could have been left out. I would have liked to hear at least one song from the Zooropa / Pop era. Mysterious Ways just felt tired.

I knew there would be a second encore, and apparently everyone else figured it out too. Bono said they'd only played Crumbs a handful of times this year, but it sounded good. Yahweh went well, and 40 was amazing. Everyone sang along right on cue. Bono left, followed by Edge and Adam, until it was only Larry pounding away as we sang along. When Bono left, he put a cross necklace on his mic stand, and propped his handheld spotlight up to illuminate the cross. That was cool. We kept singing that line "how long must we sing this song" even after Larry left. It started to die down, as people left for the exits, but when the house lights came up, the song had a resurgence, and kept going.

From our spot, we could see the Edge very well, especially when he played the piano. Bono stopped by us on the ellipse several times, and Adam passed us too. Larry was about the only one who were never really saw up close. Although the view of him on the video wall was about the same as the view I had from where I stood, so I can't complain.

Before U2 took the stage, I counted at least a dozen spotlight operators who ascended above the stage, seating in the rigging with their lights. It was cool to see that with all of the computerized lighting they rely on a dozen spot operators just above the stage. That's not counting the spotlights in the house. I think it added a real human element to the lighting, and looked more fluid. The video sreen was a horizontal screen above the stage, which usually had four pictures, one of each band member. There were several different kinds of lights that were drop from the rafters. The coolest were the light beads. I kind of though they could be some sort of LED capable of acting like a video wall, and I was right. But it was better than a huge video wall, because you could still see through it. Someone has pictures here:

I was close enough to see Bono's sweat, and the stitches on his leather jacket. Several times he ran right past us. The set list was pretty good. There were only the 2 songs I would have ditched. I couldn't have asked for much more.

Of course, I had a 2+ hour drive home, including a detour. A 3 mile stretch of interstate was closed, but of course you had to go 10 miles out of the way to get around it. But I got home at 2:30 am, and was asleep by 2:45 am, and was out of bed by 8:30 to get ready for work. I suffered all day, but it was so worth it.

As Sara said, I crossed another milesone off my life list. I have seen U2!

Of course, now that just means I have to see them again ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is worth the price of admission.

It doesn't have the great battles of The Lord of the Rings, nor does it have the magic of Harry Potter. But it has a heart those don't.

It's wonderfully done, and faithful to the book. I really hope they make more of these movies.

If you want to find out more about C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I would highly recommend checking out Into the Wardrobe, the best Lewis resource on the net.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I just got home from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. More thoughts later, but suffice to say it's not safe, but it's good.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
We've been hounded by howling winds (60 mph+) and snow this week, leaving huge drifts and often whiteout conditions. It was fun for about a half-hour, and then I got sick of it. It cleared up for a day or two, but it's snowing again now. Tis the season I guess. They closed the interstate the other day. Of course, the TV station called and asked me to drive down there to shoot video. Nothing like driving on ice covered roads to get a shot of a road no one's on. Guh.