Tag Archives: 360 Tour

My Mother’s First Rock Concert: U2 in Baltimore


Over the years, I’ve gone to see U2 a total of four times.  Each show was special for different reasons.   In 2001, I saw them for the first time after years of trying.  Four years later when I saw them perform in Washington DC, they busted out the rarely played “Out of Control”.

I knew U2’s show in Baltimore would be a special one, too.  As a Christmas present, my older brother and I bought my mother a ticket. Not only would this be her first time seeing U2, it would also be her first rock concert.  After years of watching her sons go to the band’s concerts without her, my mother would finally get to see Bono and company in the flesh.

She’s listened to U2 for almost 25 years, mostly because my older siblings exposed her to them.   She’s always enjoyed The Joshua Tree; though it took her fifteen years to declare Achtung Baby is “one of their best”.  It’s hard to listen to “Bad” without thinking back to Friday afternoons when she made pizza in the kitchen.

When the day of the show finally came, my mother was nervous about the large crowds and the stage show.  She became concerned about the band’s moving catwalks after hearing about them on the radio.  I was a bit apprehensive about going to a concert with my mother.   After all, this was a new experience for me, too.

Naturally, I wondered if it would be too loud for her.  Maybe the giant video screen and flashing lights would be a bit much for her.  Bono’s politicizing is sometimes off-putting for even faithful fans of U2.  What would she think if he gave the audience a lecture on Africa?

On our way to the concert, my fears began to subside.  As we made our way into the stadium, my mother seemed less nervous and more excited.  She had even brought a pair of earplugs, on my friend’s suggestion.  “What’s the name of the song about Bono’s father?” She asked as we weaved our way around the hundreds of people inside the stadium.   “I like that one.”

“Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” I said.  “Though I don’t think they play that one on this tour.”

After walking half way around the stadium and climbing to the upper-deck, we finally made it to our seats.  U2’s elaborate stage with its massive spider-like claws stretching into the air, circular video screen, and giant antenna took up much of the field.  “It’s crazy isn’t it?” my brother asked.  “It’s wonderful,” she replied in awe.  She might have been referring to the stage, but it was also much more significant.  She had finally made it, and enjoying the company of her two sons.

When U2 appeared on stage – Bono appearing last – my mother let out an enthusiastic whoop.   The earplugs were no where to be found.  From the very beginning, it was clear that I had no need to worry.  After every single song – even the ones she didn’t know – she cheered so loudly that it put the audience members around us to shame.

She was amazed at how The Edge could play so well, as the catwalk beneath his feet moved over heads of the audience.  Bono kept his political talk to a minimum, and instead offered kind words and praises of thanks.  “It’s nice to hear him have such a positive view of the world,” She said after the show.

The set-list was divided between greatest hits and deep-cuts.  While I prefer the latter, I could have dealt with an entire nights of worth of well-known songs for the look on my mother’s face when “Pride”, “One” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” were played.

U2 is the biggest band in the world not because they put on great shows.  Their songs speak universal truths and offer hope in a world full of confusion.  Songs even my mother, who is almost 20 years older than Bono, can relate to.


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U2 Tour Postponed and Summer Venues

Not that I’m wishing Bono ill, but this cancellation of the 360 Tour sucks.  I just bought tickets to the Philly show two weeks ago, and for various reasons this was going to be the first show of the year I was going to.  Usually I end up going to about 10-12 shows a year, so only having one to look forward to, and then having it cancelled is a bit of a blow.

Earlier today, I looked at other upcoming shows in the DC/Baltimore area.  I’m sure Bob Dylan is going to be touring Baseball stadiums again, so no doubt I’ll go to that.  Kings of Leon are coming to Jiffy Lube Live (what a terrible name – Nissan Pavilion wasn’t much better though), and I’m considering that too.  But that venue is a bitch.  I saw Coldplay there a few years ago, and since there is only one road to get in and out of the stadium, my friend and I missed about 20 minutes of the set even though we had left 4 hours earlier.  What should have taken an hour at the most, ended up being almost 4 hours in the car.

My absolute favorite summer-time venue is Merriweather Post Pavilion.  (And yes, that is what Animal Collective named their last album after.)  It’s easy to get to, lawn seats are cheap, and I’ve also seen some of the best shows there.  In 2008, I saw both Death Cab and R.E.M. there within two days of each other during what might have been the hottest week I can remember in recent history.  (Although seeing the Black Crowes in the summer of 07 and leaving  Sonar at midnight only to find it was still 86 degrees outside, also gets a nod.)

While I love going to concerts anytime of the year, going to concerts in the summer at an outside venue is an entirely different experience.  You get to go early and tail-gate (Merriweather is perfect for this.)  Your friends tend to have more free-time in the summer, so before you know you have about a group of 12 people coming to show.  There’s also nothing like drinking beer outside in the afternoon, listening to good music and hanging out with your friends.  This sense of being part of a community of music and people is about as close I’ll come to be a hippie.  And whether you like pot or not, there’s also something comforting in seeing a haze of pot smoke hanging over the audience.

So what are your favorite summer venues?  And any suggestions for good summer concerts?

(Iron & Wine last summer at Merriweather.  The date is wrong, it was sometime in August.)

(Me at the same show.)


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