The past two weeks have provoked some interesting responses within me. It began with seeing U2 in Cardiff, watching a bit of Live8 on the Roger Mellie, then seeing London win the Olympics, followed by the bombings in London and then, last night, saying goodbye to my friend Evelyn while (and this is NOT a metaphor for something else) watching some badgers frolic on the lawn.
So we'll begin at the beginning. That seems to be a good place to begin. I drove out to Cardiff with Caroline and Evelyn, meeting Justice, Anita, Kate, Jules, Martin and Pete. I became a stress monkey when the pressure on finding a carpark began to mount. Finally achieved this goal and found myself outside the magnificent Millenium Stadium. Kate and Ev had seats whereas the rest of us were unreserved standing. Now, thanks to Jon March who had been to U2 a few nights earlier in Twickenham, we knew about the Enclosure. The Enclosure was the area up the front that the first two thousand only could get into. Abandoning all sense restraint and community spirit we raced down to the floor and then took a brief pause to look at the people who were crammed at crash barrier at the edge of the enclosure. We smiled knowingly to ourselves and the pushed and shoved our way to the side of the stage where they were letting people into the Enclosure. There were no special tickets required, access merely required promptness and knowledge. Now we could be within a few metres of Mr Bono and his little friends.
Here is where I break into a email I sent the day after the concert. There's a lot to write about (as well as a lot of work to do) so I need to be efficient here. And besides, I like this email.
so.... we went to U2 last night. Went with kate, caroline, anita, justice and evelyn. bumped into jules martin and pete. that was kinda arranged. managed to break into the front enclosure with jules and martin being in the last ten through. took a picture of myself with my phone looking smug. noticed a woman laughing and smiling at me. thought she was taking the piss out of me. maybe she thought i was fit. I started talking to jules. realised she was talking to Nathan and that the woman was in fact Nita. Felt extraordinarily stupid. They had by complete coincidence decided to stand in the exact same spot as us. So quite a few past and present homies there.
had a great show, starsailor were good, the killers amazing and u2 were, well, u2. set list lives here: nice symmetry of starting and finishing with the same song. they didn't play one tree hill but apparently that hasn't been played live in 12 years so no great surprise there, then. One Tree Hill is a new zealand institution cos the original one tree hill is in Auckland and not the place where some tortured american kids play basketball and suffer emotional trials. Visuals were stunning, mr bono preached his bit about us all getting along and about it being Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday. she's the leader of burma that has been under house arrest for about as long as u2 have been touring. visuals included her reading the universal declaration of human rights.
bono struck me as being a little smug and quite like a marrionette as he walked around the stage. he didn't appear to bend his knees - his legs looked very stiff. then when we all sang along to 'but I still haven't found what i'm looking for' it seemed we were his prisoners till he decided to start another song. we sang that line over and over again. it seemed vaguely like were the sheep and he the shepherd. and boy did we bleat. happy lambs we were. he seemed a good shepherd. but not in a christlike way. ok, not completely like a christlike shepherd.
It's all quite amusing to me. Apparently at the Croke Park concerts in Dublin, he got told to shut up and play some music when he began talking to his audience. Now it could be just me, but when U2 play, you gotta expect a little 'preaching'. He is not ashamed of his Christianity, and nor does he shirk from his desire to make a difference in this world. And nor should he. I have two observations to make about this. Firstly, when he preaches (if that is the appropriate term for it), there is no overtly mainstream Christian message. He does not call people to become followers of Christ. Instead, and again it could be just be me, when he preaches he uses the model of the only sermon that Jesus is known to have preached, that being the Sermon on the Mount. Secondly, there are few ways to bring about change in this world. One of those ways is to reach the masses via the popular culture, which is precisely what he is doing. How successful he (and Sir Bob Geldolf) will be remains to be seen, but I would argue that it would be irresponsible of him not to use this forum. I'm sure he has an ego about what he does. Find me one person on the planet who could play to crowds of 60,000+ (and let's face it, U2 could sell out 120,000 seater stadiums) and not have an ego.
My reflections on Live8, the Olympics, terrorism and badgers will have to be another entry. I gotta work!