Sunday, November 27, 2005


As a high school student, going to concerts was part of my identity. I had seen No Doubt perform fifteen times in venues all throughout southern California and I saved the ticket stubs to prove it. Likewise, I fell in love with a Pasadena band called Ozma and saw them at least as many times as I saw No Doubt. Some of these shows were free and I rarely paid more than the price of a movie ticket to see them.

After not attending a concert for several years, I watched U2 perform at the Oakland Arena from a $160 seat last week. One hundred and sixty dollars per ticket… do I get fries with that? No. Was my vantage point so awesome that I could see Bono’s Irish eyes behind those cool guy glasses? No. That’s just how much tickets go for these days I guess.

Mickey had heard that ‘if you saw any band on stage, you should see U2 because they put on an amazing show.’ After watching the show, I began to understand why people say that. The lights and visuals were more intense and meticulously choreographed than any I had ever seen in a live show. I imagine that you get the same type of experience when you go to see ‘N Sync, Madonna or Britney Spears, but I’m not sure. In any case, the lights + the music-video-like images on the jumbo screen + the actual music overloaded my senses and made me feel more like an outsider than one ‘in the moment.’

And here’s the part that I’m afraid to ask out loud… doesn’t recorded music sound better than live music sometimes? If you’ve heard “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” in a certain way for as long as you can remember, don’t you want to hear it precisely that way on stage? With all these songs (With or Without You, One, Beautiful Day, etc.), the live version is ever so slightly different than what you hear on the radio and thus ever so slightly not what I wanted. This is why I’m a philistine when it comes to music.

Perhaps the best part of watching U2 on stage was all of a sudden ‘getting’ their music. Before my CDs were stolen, I only owned one U2 album and that was a compilation so I guess it doesn’t count. Thus I had only experienced U2 song by song and it was nice to hear all these songs in a context that made sense. It helped that Bono spelled out his political message pretty explicitly.

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