My obsession with U2 started long before I attended the 1987 Joshua Tree concert at the Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, but it reached fever pitch on September 21, 2009. On this night, I attended the U2 360° concert at Gillette Stadium for the second night in a row. I had the best possible view of the band with my back against the rail of the inner circle! Dead center. It’s exactly where I wanted to be particularly after watching the U2 3D movie last year. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.
On Sunday night, I had seats in section 310 (stage right). The seats were good, but higher up than I expected. You could see all of the activity on stage, but it was necessary to rely on the monitors for details such as the expression on Larry’s face as illustrated in the photo below. When you are on the floor, you can take pictures such as this one of Bono. He was just a few feet away from me. See the difference?
Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to be at the concert the first night, but the overall experience, sound and view from the floor was by far superior particularly in a stadium. The last time I saw U2 live was during the Vertigo Tour at the Fleet Center or whatever it’s called these days. I preferred that venue. I had seats behind the stage, but it still felt more intimate than Gillette.
I should explain how I ended up with best seats I’ve ever had. First, I joined the U2 fan club to ensure I’d have access to tickets before the GP (general public.). Next, I opened a Ticketmaster account, so that I could execute the purchase quickly once the tickets were on sale. After that, I kept my eye on the schedule to make sure I was aware of the exact sale date for the US tour. As it turned out, I was in Europe when the US tickets were available, so I had to coordinate carefully due to the time difference.
It’s actually quite nerve wracking to purchase the tickets online. You can select tickets by best available or by a price point, but not by location in the stadium. Once tickets are offered, you have a minute or two to confirm your purchase. The first tickets offered to me were $250 each. Expensive and that didn’t even include Ticketmaster’s exorbitant fees. I admit, I considered it for a moment. Mostly because I feared that the rest of the tickets could have been sold out during the 30-45 seconds I took to make up my mind. I decided to roll the dice again. I ended up with Section 310 on Sunday and GA tickets for Monday night. I was pleased.
With coveted GA tickets in hand, I conducted research to determine my strategy for the best spot on the floor. I read blog, forum and twitter posts from other U2 fans. I also considered my attendance at Sunday’s show to be recon mission for Monday night. I wanted to be sure I understood the layout of the stage, the band’s use of the stage, crowd patterns and procedures to enter the floor. Yes, I clearly have too much extra time on my hands, but come on, we’re talking about U2.
I should note that the traffic getting out of Gillette stadium was a nightmare. I didn’t get home until 3:00 a.m. after Sunday’s show. I was exhausted on Monday, and I had a long day ahead of me. I arrived at Gillette around 2:00 p.m. The GA line wasn’t bad. Perhaps 200 people in front of me which is what I expected. I immediately introduced myself to those around me. We spent the next four hours together in line. U2 fans bond quickly. We all had stories to tell about our favorite songs, concert experience etc. One couple next to me recently attend the concert in Dublin. Another woman had floor seats the night before, so she had good tips to share. A guy from North Dakota originally drove to Chicago for the first US show. He enjoyed it so much he decided to drive to Boston. He was young and had free time, so he called his parents to let them know he was heading to NYC next. Another couple in our group was from NH, and they were going to have a very long drive home and perhaps straight to work based on my experience with traffic the night before. With our lively conversation, time passed quickly as we sat in the hot sun.
Bracelets, which ensured our entry to the inner circle, were distributed to those of us in line. After about 4 hours of waiting, we lined up in corresponding rows of men and women to facilitate the security check process. After the security check, there was a line for ticket validation, and then it was a free for all run to the stage which happened to be the length of the football field. I was prepared to run as if my life depended upon it, but security personnel generally kept people from running.
I knew I had to get to the stage before everyone else in line. Fortunately, I’m a speed walker, so I was able to move faster than most around me. As I rounded the final turn inside the circle I saw an opening at center stage. Mission accomplished! I was thrilled. I grabbed the arm of the Scottish man standing next to me and jumped for joy. He too was a huge fan of U2, and he has traveled worldwide to see their concerts. He had an 8:30 a.m. flight back to the UK on Tuesday morning. Now that’s dedication. The man on the other side of me traveled from Santiago, Chile. He was heading to the concert at Giant Stadium next before his long trip home.
Truth be told, any spot in the inner circle would have been fabulous. When you are that close to the stage, you can see everything. Each member of the band was feet away from me on multiple occasions throughout the night. At one point, we were sandwiched between two catwalks. The Edge was on one side above my head and Adam on the other. I was so distracted by the Edge, I didn’t even notice Adam until my Scottish friend grabbed me by the shoulders and physically turned me around to see him. That’s when I made eye contact with Adam. I wanted to snap a few photos, but I didn’t want to miss anything. Fortunately, the woman standing behind me was kind enough to share the photo she took at that moment.
The only thing that could have topped the evening would have been if Bono pulled me from the audience. The woman Bono selected was in my plan B location and happened to have long, dark, curly hair like I do. No kidding. It could have been me. Once on stage, Bono jumped into her arms. She carried him across the stage. Then they each stood across from each other on the catwalk, and Bono sang directly to her. Very lucky woman.
Bono is charismatic and full of energy. He was in constant motion and always working the crowd.
Adam is cool. He was mostly stage left doing his thing like he doesn’t have a care in the world.
The Edge is fascinating to watch. With the distractions of Bono and the Edge, it’s easy to overlook Larry behind the drums, so it was nice to see him in front of the crowd during the remix if I’ll go Crazy Tonight which I love.
Opening Act: Snow Patrol
Magnificent,No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Elevation, Your Blue Room, Beautiful Day, Unknown Caller, Until the End of the World, Stay (Faraway, So Close), The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo – Stories for Boys, I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On, One – Amazing Grace, Where the Streets Have No Name
Encore(s): Ultraviolet, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender