I suppose one thing that many of my friends and family don’t really “get” about me is my U2 concert … habit. Ok, perhaps addiction or obsession by some measure. My fellow concert-goers know the puzzled look followed by “but didn’t you already go to a show?” they get when they tell someone they’re about to hit the road (or airport) for another U2 concert. “Aren’t all the shows the same?” In short, no. Set lists may be repeated, but the experience is unique every time, especially when you go GA (general admission, “floor tickets”).
Some things are the same: there’s the anxiety before arriving at the venue to get your number in the queue and wondering how many people are already ahead of you; the early morning roll call when GAers return from their hotels and tents, line up in order of their numbers and get escorted to the venue gate by U2 security (we love U2 Dave!); the lull of the morning when GAers steal an hour or two of sleep on their yoga mats and blankets. As a mother of two, those two hours of being still under the sun are so relaxing, I might as well be on a Mediterranean beach. Soon lunch rolls around, you’ve made friends with the people around you, reunited with old friends, and are eventually putting your stuff away, taking your last sips of water and preparing yourself for the most stressful and nerve-racking part of the day: entrance into the venue.
The last hour and a half before gates open is the only time I really feel like I am standing in line. No straying off to freshen up or watch the crew set up. The sound checks are done, ticket is in hand, and a flock of butterflies have descended in my stomach.
When the gates finally open, I am amidst a surge of restrained urgency and calm hastiness. Walking, jogging, speed walking, slowing down, speeding up, sprinting, often across the length of an entire football stadium. I get my spot. I sit down. And I feel charged, rattled and relieved.
The show itself is what truly feels different every time. Not only do you see the music that you love so much, you’re completely enveloped by it and all of the energy and fervor the band pours out to its fans. You are a part of the show. No matter what spot you get, it ends up being perfect because inevitably, you make some connection or witness a moment that is unique to your view. Far from it seeming like a movie you’ve seen several times, it feels like you’re on the set of the film, the action and the artistry is happening and you’re right in the middle of it. And with this band, that action is not only happening around you, it’s happening for you.
So as U2 plays its final show of the 360° tour tonight in Moncton, Canada, a tour that spanned two years and, for me, began in July 2009 at the 5th show in Paris and ended at the 5th-to-the-last show in St. Louis (with some shows in between), I look back at my world of U2 360° GA and the amazing people who I’ve met along the way – so many of which I am blessed to call my friends.
See you all at the next tour. Bright and early. (: