July 5, 2011

a bang up holiday weekend

This weekend was the most fun weekend I've had in a long time. I did something I've never done before (participate in a neighborhood bike parade) and something I have not done in way too long: I went out to see live music and not just any live music, but the U2 concert at Vanderbilt stadium.

On Saturday night 45,000 fans convened on a hot and muggy Nashville night to see and hear a spectacle of greatness, talent and sincerity that left us practically skipping all the way home. For me, it was an extra special concert, as I've been a U2 fan for most of my life. Well, for as long as I remember being able to really love music. The band have been together now for 35 years which makes me feel really old.

I first saw them in concert in high school, though I followed them for long before that. I actually got to meet them when I was 17 and they were on tour and played in Las Vegas, where I am from. Through my dad's friendship with one well-connected man, my friend Erica and I got to deliver tickets for a boxing match, a gift from the concert promoter, to the band at their hotel (!!!). Imagine the excitement. It was a dream come true. Somewhere I have a photo of that meeting - my friend and I sandwiched between Bono and the Edge, looking every bit as nervous and elated as you would imagine two teenage girls meeting the famous rock stars of their dreams would look. I would post that photo if only I could find it.

We had not been planning to go on Sat., but I got a wild hair and decided to look for tickets on craigslist. I found them, we found a babysitter last-minute and off we went!

The concert was wonderful and special and Daniel and I had a really fun time. I loved the opener too: Florence and the Machine, an ethereal and stunning British woman in a long green chiffon costume who sang beautifully and skipped around the stage barefoot. I had heard only one of her songs before and knew she was a fashion icon so it was cool to see her perform live.

When U2 came on the stage Daniel joked, "Look at them - they're like Gods." And that's how it felt. They looked great too. Time has done nothing to diminish their god-like rock star status. Bono kept talking about how much they loved Nashville and how great it was to be playing here for the first time since 1981. It was also their 100th show on this "360 Tour." He sang a song that he wrote and performed with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer. And they played a lot of old hits as well as newer material. There were about 10 years in there when I was in grad school and not listening to much music and I lost track of them (around the time Zooropa came out). But since then, I've managed to catch one other U2 concert --in 2004 in Denver, in addition to the couple of times I saw them in the 80s-- but none was as great as this show. Maybe it's because, like the band, I am aging and living in a new phase of life, one that is amazing and beautiful, but which contains too few opportunities to rock out. And it was all so nostalgic for me. Hearing them perform "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "I Will Follow" and "In the Name of Love" will always tug at my heartstrings and remind me of my younger days.

Here are some photos from the show, not the best because shot from afar with my phone, but nonetheless they capture the drama and impact of the rocket ship stage framed by hundreds of very sophisticated moving video screens in a 360 degree ring above the stage. From this the concert was projected spliced with cutting edge video graphics and special effects, old footage of the band, and even recorded transmissions from Desmond Tutu and Gabrielle Gifford's astronaut husband from outer space telling us that "It's a Beautiful Day." Pretty cool.

It was all so spontaneous and that added to the fun of the evening. I am so glad I got that wild hair and that it all worked out so perfectly. I was meant to rekindle my love affair with U2 here in Nashville on this 4th of July weekend.

The other thing we did that was super fun was participate in this cute little bike parade that our neighbor Zella, age 6, organized.

I thought her poster was really cute, and the parade was even cuter. The kids all decorated their bikes and wagons and we took June along in the trailer behind my bike. Zella's dad and another neighbor blocked the traffic on our street at each end of the block and we all paraded down and back complete with accompanying drum and saxophone and a live Statue of Liberty. It was really very sweet and reminded me of what a great neighborhood we chose to live and raise our child in.

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