And then we went to Clemson

My friend Kari and I arrived early -- around noon -- and prowled
around the stadium. There was a tarp across the chain link fence at the
back, and we promptly joined the rest of the fans in ripping holes in
the tarp to get a good look at the stage. The roadies started checking
the sound and I was bouncing up and down telling Kari -- "That's Dallas,
that's Sam, that's Frasier, and, omygosh, that's Stuart!!" Everyone
else thought I was crazy, but hey, after reading about these people for
five years, it's a kick seeing them, and THE CREW fucking ROCKS. FYI
security around the stadium doors at this point was non-existent. A lot
of people already had tour shirts, etc. because they had wandered in,
listened to the roadies and then gotten the vendors to sell them things.

Around 5 PM evil security people with large rolls of duct tape came up
to the tarp and taped all the holes so we could no longer see. There
was a lot of bitching among the fans about the Band being assholes and
not letting us watch sound-check.

We went to the gate to wait and listened to sound-check. The boys
rehearsed the opening of SATS several times; Edge's timing was in a
different dimension, Bono was coming in at the wrong time and his voice
sounded very rough. The doors were to open at six, but sound-check ran
until 6:30 or so, and the doors didn't open until 6:45. I felt bad for,
the event staff because we were getting restless, and their time schedule
was being totally screwed. Finally, they let us in, we bought our
souvenirs (they have the coolest refrigerator magnet sets now) and
headed for our seats -- me holding my breath.

Let me 'splain. I got second row seats for this show (my first) thanks
to a kind WIREling and with all of the horror stories people have posted
I had nightmares about the tickets being forgeries or stolen, etc. So I
was praying -- HARD.

The tickets were real. Thank God. And the best thing was that the
event staff were jealous!! We got to our seats (I did not want to risk
not being able to get to them later) and we sat there in shock. The
stage was less than seven feet away, and we were bout three feet to the
right of centre -- right between Bono and Adam. And, for the record,
the stage design is amazing. There is a small ante-stage at the front
that allows the performers to get VERY close to the audience.

Rage started promptly at 7:30. They were good. Their fans were
assholes. The Rage fans pushed in against the front barrier and were
bouncing, slamdancing, and headbanging with no respect for the U2 fans
in the seats a foot behind them. One of the girls in front of me
actually got up and left after an S&M couple piled into her lap. I
looked to my left and saw that the Rage fans had taken down 10 or 20
chairs and started a mosh pit. One kind guy was holding it back,
protecting the girls in his row (there are some gentlemen left). Kari
leaned over and said "they're gonna take care of that" and pointed to my
right. I looked over and saw that she was pointing to a tall,
grey-haired gentleman standing in the no-man's-land between crowd and
stage. I squinted at his laminate, and sure as hell, it was Jerry Mele.

Jerry broke up the mosh pit. I thought security chiefs were supposed
to tell their crews what to do and then stand back. Not Jerry. He was
in the middle of the mosh pit shoving and telling people to go back to
their seats. Not ten minutes after Rage was done, all the chairs were
replaced and the Rage fans were gone. People have been complaining
about not being able to get to their seats, but we had no such problems
in our section. Kevin, the wonderful, beautiful WIREling who got me my
seats had no problem getting to us after Rage, and security was kicking
Rage fans out of other people's seats -- they had everything under
control.

Howie B came out shortly thereafter and started mixing -- all vinyl.
Funny little Scotsman wearing the same hat Adam had on at Kmart a few
months ago. Few people in the crowd knew who he was, but I thoroughly
enjoyed watching him. Then the lights went out. Spotlight on Howie for
a few minutes then Popmuzik started.

It took a few minutes for anything to happen, then the spots hit the
middle of the stadium and the "O" on the screen started showing the guys
coming through the crowd. They came up over the B stage and started
Mofo. Incredible. The band is very close together spatially this tour,
as close or closer on the stage than R&H. Bono was everywhere, perching
atop the front speaker banks and almost falling off. The crowd was very
responsive and he seemed pleased. When he reached "I'm still a
child/But no one tells me no" he screamed, "tell me 'no'" and the
audience co-operated with a vengeance. Adam has this god-awful bass,
it's yellow and shaped like an arch. It sounds wonderful, but looks as
if it might go into orbit (and it clashes with the orange suit).

They kicked I Will Follow and I was overjoyed and shocked to look back
at the drumkit and see Larry singing his little heart out, grinning from
ear to ear. Yes, there is a new verse.

Even Better is NOT too slow, it kicks ass. And Bono is still pulling a
bit of the Fly on that one. He came down on the speaker bank with the
official Fly "slide" and started doing the over-enunciated mouth thing.

Gone, well, you've got to see it to understand. It is not one of my
favourite songs on the album, but when Bono is singing it and feeling
every word with his soul on his sleeve...it is what I would call an
experience.

They started Pride and the audience went fucking nuts. We howled we
screamed, we did the "whoa-ohs" -- hell, we kept doing them after the
song was over.

Before Still Haven't Found Bono started wandering around burbling. He
stared up at the arch and asked, "how do you like this shit?" And
proceeded to tell us that he felt he should explain the set, then
giggled and declared he had no idea what it meant. Standing in front of
the darkened screen, he talked about the stark, modern, commercial
world, and then reminded us how beautiful it can be as it lights up
after dark. He ended up with "This is where we live...this is where you
live...tonight we're going to try and turn it into a church...or
something" and as the guitar and drums began "Still Haven't Found" he
yelled "Let's go to church y'all." Larry was making sarcastic comments
(or something) to Adam because Adam was back by the drum kit and kept
cracking up. Bono ended Still Haven't Found on the B stage, then
started Stand by Me. The crowd sang along mightily through both, and
Bono wandered back to the main stage at the end of Stand.

The screens played a cartoon of a bubble-headed character going
shopping, with Bono wandering around mumbling about shopping for the new
rock-n-roll, almost seeming to hold a conversation with the character on
the screens. A roadie flew out to retrieve the sunglasses he had
forgotten on the front speakers four songs before. (the man would lose
his head if it weren't attached.) Last Night on Earth was intense, with
Bono screwing with the pronouns in the lyrics, a sly look on his face.
"I feel the ground giving way, but I think we're better off that way. .
we'll be dead soon, then we'll sleep." He also added an extensive
section in the area of the song in which the recorded version is a
series of mumbles. The band just kind of played along and watched him
-- trying, I assume, to figure out when he was done.

Until the End of the World was very good -- and very amusing. On
"drowning my sorrows/my sorrows they learned to swim/surrounding me..
." Bono came down SL and was eyeing the crowd, and Adam and Edge
started converging on him. I suspected they were afraid he might go
down into the pit or into the crowd. The close of the song is
spectacular with Bono and Edge working their way down the walk to the B
stage. A WIREling described it as a duel between Edge's guitar and
Bono's voice, and I think that is apt. The two of them ended up on the
B stage and started IGWSHA. Bono was so flat it was truly painful, and
very funny, yet the passion he felt for what he was singing was evident
and it was the song's salvation. Edge started the ending chords after
the second verse and Bono was wandering back toward the main stage, but
then turned around and did another verse (fake, Edge, fake -- see Edge
fake)

They both headed back to the main stage and the sequencing started for
SATS. The drum line started. The bass started. The guitar sort of
started and Bono's guitar, ummm. Turned out he didn't have a pick and
Frasier came flying to the rescue. Bono takes a breath and yells, "I
love you, Frasier." And we had definitive proof. U2 have done it
again. They cannot play their latest single. At the end of the song,
Bono, grinning sheepishly, said "that was the bit we were rehearsing in
sound check, Edge, I think this one needs a little rehearsal." He then
returned to his mic centre stage and began strumming on his acoustic
doing a reprise with a few scat vocals (as Larry and Adam stared at each
other) then breaks, grins and yells, "the folk version, maybe next
time."

The rest of the band takes off, Bono giving Edge the high sign on the
way off. Edge steps forward and introduces himself as the guitarist
(we hadn't noticed) and tells us that guitarists are cool guys with a
sense of humour -- at least for five minutes a day, ending with "we're
going to try something and see if it works." He sang Daydream Believer,
watching the screen to make sure he didn't screw up the words. And we
sang along. Edge was grinning from ear to ear -- probably because the
crowd was still singing as he was walking back to the main stage after
the end of the song.

Bono reappeared in a brightly coloured jacket and a black bowler with
an American flag umbrella. He was obviously playing Alex (from A
Clockwork Orange). Miami was, as promised, different. Bono pulled a
girl out of the crowd and was romancing her -- "we could make something
beautiful/something that wouldn't be a problem." Kari said he kissed
her twice (on the mouth) I couldn't see. Everyone stood on their seats
to see the B stage and I couldn't see well, so I occupied my time
watching the rhythm section.

Bullet was good -- Bono had the umbrella and was swinging it as if
golfing -- and being careful to hit the back of Edge's hat on every
swing -- funny as hell because it pissed Edge off. Edge and Adam were
doing the solo work centre stage and Edge just slapped the whammy bar in
a full circle, cutting the sound out abruptly. The narration before
"100..." is different, about wagering. The pyramid of light over the
stadium is beautiful, and Bono's mumbling narration ironically funny and
passionate in the same moment, "you gotta watch out for them fighter
planes...be careful with all them fighter planes, y'all." He ended with
West Side Story's America, taking off the hat and slipping into
MacPhisto's old-man stagger as he lurched across the front of the stage,
the hat held before him, begging for coins. Reaching the centre of the
stage he broke into Playboy Mansion, "Then will there be no time for
sorrow/no time for shame/then there will be/there will be..." He was
screaming so hard I was afraid he was going to break something.

They did Please, and, like Gone, it is something to be experienced, not
described. Larry was poised for the Sunday Bloody Sunday thing, but
Bono kept howling, "Please" over and over as if his heart were breaking,
and the opening of Where the Streets started under the last "Please."
Bono had a problem pulling his tempo back up for Where the Streets.
Please was so intense he didn't quite get back to the usual level of
bounce for Where the Streets. Then he started bouncing up and down,
clapping his hands over his head as if asking us to do the same, and we
responded. I stopped for a second in the middle of the song and was
awed -- the entire stadium floor (like the ground itself) was bouncing
in time to the song. The point where Bono always goes zipping off
(running to the side of the stage) -- he started to zip, tripped over
his own foot and almost went sprawling. Adam and Edge converged (save
the LV!), but by the time they hit centre stage Bono had already caught
himself and zipped off, so they just ended up centre stage grinning.

The band waves, disappears and, um, nothing happens. I heard a faint
chorus of Forty somewhere behind me and joined it. We waited a good
minute in darkness then the screen picked up with the spaceship and
androgyno belly-dancer. I think something went wrong because the
belly-dancer was up there less than two minutes and the lemon started
rolling (also, Adam & Edge didn't change clothes).

The lemon is hysterical (and very cool when they hit it with
multicoloured spotlights and spin it.) It parks (for lack of a better
word) around the sixth row and opens -- it takes a moment, don't panic.
I was praying it wouldn't stick... They came out of the lemon -or they
tried -- Larry's earplug cord was wrapped around the bar he was leaning
against and it popped out of his ear as he tried to step away -- and he
got the giggles. The band and giggling drummer did Discotheque -- and
may I say that the "Boom-Cha" section has got to be one of the funnier
moments of the show.

Then a chord reverberated through the stadium with a bass line pounding
through it like the pulsation of a great heart and Bono sang If You Wear
That Velvet Dress. I am more than glad the song is back in the
setlist. It is black velvet magic, dark, hypnotic, and heartrending.
With or without you slides in smoothly over the closing chords. Bono's
voice almost gave out on the last "And you give..." but when he howled
at the end of the song all the hair stood up on my arms. He did the R&H
verse (shine like stars. . .) and then said goodnight.

The lights went out and then a huge yellow MacPhisto symbol came up on
the screen and the punishing guitar part came swirling out of the
speakers (it was sequenced, not played) and they kicked HMTMKMKM.
Awesome -- watching Adam play that Bass part was one of the highlights
of the show. Mysterious Ways -- a lot of fun. Bono's voice was
hurting, but he was still bouncing around the stage and it was the way
it has always been -- what Bono lacks in voice he makes up in passion.
During Mysterious Ways Bono evidently had a WAR flashback and felt
obligated to introduce the rest of the band (in case we didn't know who
we were watching). He yelled "The Edge," then turned toward the trap
set, "Larry Mullen" Larry looked up at him and Bono popped up on his
tiptoes and waved, yelling "Hi!" Larry lost it. Then Bono turns "Adam
Clayton" and bends over to polish/kiss the bassist's shoe. The song
ended and everyone came up front to wave, and I was so excited because
they looked so damn HAPPY!! (And I discovered the front of Larry's shirt
says "Hit man" - groan) Bono pounded Larry on the back and gave Adam a
huge hug, then there was a short band conference and Bono mumbled
something about doing something new for us.

They closed, as always, with One, and I cannot imagine a more beautiful
way to end the show. Bono cried. And for a moment the audience caught
a glimpse of the friendship that inspired that song. I thought Bono was
going to hold that last not forever then he said, "Good night and God
bless" and they were gone, leaving only that big red heart on the screen
as a testimonial.


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