Eric Shivvers: Four songs into U2’s Chicago set list last month, I had to leave the pit area. The heat and the closeness of bodies were a little too much for me. I decided to gravitate towards the back of the stage, taking in the show on the huge monitor floating above the stage. Without seeing the actual band members, the energy coming across the “Big TV” was infectious. U2 was filling the arena with exactly what they had promised – 360 degrees of fun.
In order to offset the heat, I drank $30 worth of bottled water. I knew I would have to take a natural break and so I did. I slowly made my way to the concourse and onto the bathroom. Normally, I would never do this because I would be so into the show that missing an Edge lick or a Bono rant would not be missed but this night, the hot weather was playing a crucial role.
When I exited the bathroom, I was able to walk the venue and take the show in via my 360 experience. I ambled through the crowd of the young, the old and the staggering. Along the way, I witnessed The band singing their classic I Still haven’t Found What I’m Looking For from all aspects of the venue. What made my excursion interesting is that I never saw the band. The glow from the lights of the stage reflected off the arena walls silhouetted the crowd flanking my left as I walked ht concourse. Even at the far reaches of the arena, Bono had them in his hand, taking them on a journey as they sung in unison with him.
One would say this was a waste of time and not a way to experience a U2 show, but I disagree. After seeing them from the pit twice on this tour in 2009, I had reason to take my own journey through the crowd. I wanted to feel the passion from the furthest reaches because that is where I started my U2 live experience, fives rows from the back of the arena at Carver-Hawkeye arena in 1987. On this night, I needed to get back to my roots as I wandered through the sweating flesh. It was something I needed to do.
Upon my return to the rail at the back of the stage area, I looked up as Gabby Gifford’s husband was introducing Beautiful Day. My Bedouin lifestyle within the arena for those fifteen odd minutes told me that no matter where you sat, no matter what your favorite album was or song you wanted to hear, we were at church with four Irishmen in the pulpit spilling out their heartfelt emotions for us no matter the weather.