Thursday, 1 January 2009

2001 August - Elevation Tour Manchester 1, Humanity and Communication

The start of the Elevation Tour for me! Dianne, Julie, Jane, Sharon and I had met up in Manchester the previous day, lovely to see them all again. That evening I also met up with my German friends Chris and Andy (who the others didn't know) and went for an Italian meal with them and caught up with all their news too. One of the things I love about U2 tours is seeing all my U2 friends once more.

On 11th August we went to the Evening News Arena, which conveniently, was only a five minute walk from our hotel at about 7pm. Due to the very steep seating in the arena we could see very well from our seats. Unfortunately we had to endure Kelis who seemed to scream through every song, we should have gone in later!

U2 started the show with Elevation, it was very powerful, and though never a favourite of mine, it was a good song to open the gig with. Beautiful Day, Until the End of the World, Discotheque/Staring at the Sun followed in quick succesion getting the gig off to a rousing start. Next to be performed was Kite and Bono dropped a bombshell before he sung it.

"I want to sing this song for my father, it feels like he wrote it" he said, continuing, "I thought I wrote it for my kids but I think he wrote it for me and he's only got a few days left in this world - this is for Bob Hewson."

The surprise in the arena was palpable, Julie and I just looked at each other speechless, we 'd heard a while ago that Bono's father was very ill, but had no idea of the severity. Bono went on to sing the song so beautifully, so full of emotion, tears ran down my face. At that time in my life my mother was also very ill (she died not long after Bono's father) so it really resonated with me on a personal level, as well as feeling for Bono. You could feel the sympathy and caring of audience towards Bono, it was such a highly charged performance, I think we all just wanted to give him a caring hug, but I think in a way, that's just what we did.

After that emotional song I didn't think I'd be able to come "up" again, but such is the power of U2's live performances that the show did reach highs after this. It was fabulous to hear Bad again, still my favourite so rarely performed nowadays, but always a highlight when it is.

Streets was exhilarating, the red stage, the lights, the crowd jumping up and down, Bono running a circuit around the "heart" front enclosure before starting the song, full of vibrance and energy.

The Fly made a welcome comeback, completely re-worked. Initially when it started I wasn't sure what song it was as it was so different. But I loved the new version which ended with Bono racing around the heart again and then crashing hard into one of the yellow screens at the back of the stage, staying there for a while, The Fly drawn to the light and splattered against the screen, very effective and quite funny.

The show ended with the beautiful Walk On, the perfect way to end the show and we left the arena in silence, completely emotionally wrung out. This show had taken us on such an emotional journey we were lost for words.

It may not have been the best show technically (there had been some problems), but it was a triumph of humanity and communication. Bono bravely bared his soul and shared his pain and that brought him closer to the crowd on a very personal level. I think he needed to do that and needed our response to give him strength. In later interviews he did say that continuing to do the shows and having the support of the fans when his father was dying helped him cope. And that's exactly one of the things that makes the relationship between U2 and their fans so special.

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