Wednesday, October 26, 2005

U2 has Vertigo, Me Too

Last Night we attended the U2 concert (Vertigo Tour) here in the Detroit area. The performance was held at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a northern suburb of Detroit and also the home of the Detroit Pistons. The following is my scattered observations of the event.

First off, U2 was a favorite of mine way back in their early days. I thought their "War" album was great. Indeed I was elated they played "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" and an even earlier song "Gloria." They naturally played many of their hits over the years, most that you would think of.

Second, I'm a fan of Bono and his efforts to halt poverty and AIDs particularily in the third world and the African continent. Part of the price of the ticket goes to these efforts. Interestingly, Bono had met with President Bush in the oval office just days before last nights concert. It was a bit surreal to see the photo released from that meeting, Bono wearing his tattered jeans and leather coat and Bush all suit and tied. But note to Bono, "Bush causes poverty, he don't care about poor people." I'm sure Bono knew he was talking to a wall, but thought it worth an effort to at least publicize his cause.

There were many references to his cause during the concert and as well in the outer concourse where they were taking email addresses. You can get information for this at

Third, I was highly impressed with the light show. The stage had an oval rampway for Bono and Edge to walk around and get closer to fans. Added to that, at one end of that oval was an additional oval stage for drums and traditional band set. Throughout the concert, these oval were illuminated with lights that would "run" around the oval. At times these ovals would almost appear to be planet trajectories like our solar system. Added to this was huge light strings hanging above and to the side of the stage that could display action sequences as well as abstact color combinations. These light strings would be raised and lowered at various times.

Fourth, at one point Bono dedicated a song to Rosa Parks. Here in Detroit, Parks is our adopted civil rights legend. She moved here after her famous bus sitting incident in Alabama and worked in Detroit city government. It was no coincidence that U2 did the Parks dedication as she passed on just the day before at the age of 92. To give an idea of her adopted city's love for her, both major newspapers (The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News) did full sections on her life today.

Fifth, ticket prices. I guess I'm just an old fogey, but I still have plenty of sticker shock from prices of concerts of major acts. We paid $100 a seat to sit against the wall in the last row. We weren't the worst last row seats as I met a man that was standing in an aisle near our section who couldn't see the stage because of the hanging equipment. He paid more than we did. I had this same sticker shock when I saw the last Fleetwood Mac tour this past year.

I don't know, but things sure have changed for arena rock from my early concert going days. I can remember seeing mulitiple big name bands playing on the same bill for prices that are similar to the parking fee we paid last night. Milk and bread are hardly a couple of coins higher than in those days, but concerts are inflation at its worst. Concession stand prices are obscene as well. $7.50 beers and $3.00 crappy hot dogs. Between the two of us, tickets, parking, concessions, and a T-shirt totalled nearly $300. That kind of price for an evening of entertainment certainly strains the budgets of many that attend the concert and prices out many from even thinking of going. Cynically, I must wonder if Bono is trying to cause poverty for his fans. But I understand that these prices are just business as usual in the concert world these days. Someone has to pay for the light show I praised above.

Sixth, I was interested in the contrast to concerts of old by the technology in the hands of ticket holders. Cameras and such were not allowed into the arena, but cell phones were. You could see camera phones held up toward the band all over the place. As well text messaging of fans was being displayed on huge TV screens above the stage. And of course many people were giving their friends not in attendence a taste of the concert simply by phoning them and holding out their cells. Just a decade or two ago this paragraph could be described as science fiction. Conspicuously missing was the call for an encore by holding up lighters, but that could have been because U2 took very brief breaks and when the concert ended the arena lights went on quickly.

Finally, we had to stand the entire concert. Everyone was ignoring the seat they were assigned as a place to put their ass. I wasn't upset with this, but it would have been nice to be able to sit occassionally and still see the band. All in all, it was a good experience although we may be pinching pennies for a few weeks.


Post a Comment

<< Home