Thursday, June 30, 2011

U2 - MSG - October 27th, 2001

Its story time. 

I figured that every now and again I will do this. I will write about an experience that I had at a concert that was unlike anything that I have ever experienced. I started out a few weeks ago with a story about a Phish memory (click here). Today I'm going the other side of the spectrum. That was one of my most happy moments at a show. The next was one of the most beautiful/sad moments that I think I will ever encounter. 

Let me set the scene. Its October 2001. NYC had just suffered the paralyzing attacks that were 9/11. I was a college sophomore down here in Virginia. I didn't really know what to do with myself for a few month. Everything that I knew in NYC had been mixed up. My family was terrified. We at college were put in a weird spot of going to classes and pretending everything was normal while a war was raging on right outside our windows. It was to say the least a very confusing time.

It is no wonder that during these months I turned a lot to music. 

One band in particular was U2. They had just released a hit album (All That You Can't Leave Behind) with the hit song "Walk On". A song with the lyrics 

"And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk On."

Now I have always been a fan of U2. I was lucky enough to see them a couple of time in high school and in college. Yet when they announced that they were going to do a three night run at my favorite venue for three nights at the end of October, just a month after 9-11, I knew I had to be there. I called up my old friend Katie Murphy and told her that we had to get tickets for the last night of the run. We just had to. As luck would have it, we did. They were pretty fantastic seats too, right behind the stage. Like a few rows back. It was sure to be amazing. 

Little did I know that what would happen there that night inside the arena, would be talked about for years and years to come. 

I made the trip up from VA and into NYC. The first trip to the city since the terrorist attacks. There was a buzz in the room before the band even started. Everyone inside felt sort of like family. We were all there for some type of healing, we just didn't know what and how. I will never forget when Bono walked on stage. Now remember this man is from Ireland. He came on stage wearing an American flag jacket, and under a NYFD t-shirt. The crowd erupted. 

As the band ripped through songs, you could see people to the left and to the right start to dance and start to for a moment forget about all of the tragic things they had heard and seen over the last month. For a moment a great band was on stage doing their jobs, making us forget about our lives for just that moment. 

The concert was everything that you would imagine and more.... the final song played and the crowd cheered so loud for an encore I could have sworn that the room was going to explode. 

As they walked back on stage I remember turning to my friend and saying "I really hope they play 'Walk On'". Well I got my wish and then some. 

In what is probably one of the top moments of my live music watching career (yes its a career at this point), the band came out and start the emotional song. The band is all in NYC t-shirts, the song starts with the scrolling list of people that we lost on 9-11, everyone was having a moment. I remember I totally was crying. Then they started 'Walk On'. Again, another moment. People were cheering, screaming the lyrics, crying, holding on to each other, the room became one. 

They played the song beautifully.... then right at the end to hammer their point home. Bono brings out at least 50 NYC Firemen on stage. (I'm crying while writing this now) To the cheers of the crowd these men walk with Bono around the stage. Some say a few words, Bono speaks, the entire room is just erupting in emotions. I can't even tell you what I was doing at this point because I was crying/cheering/hugging people. It was one of the most emotional moments I have ever had in my life. And it was amazing. 

How this band was able to bring a city together a month after a tragedy like that. To let us have a ton of fun, but in the end remember what happened. Was just amazing. 

I write this today because somehow in my youtube adventures today I found the video. Yup. Enjoy my friends, I will forever be grateful that I was part of this experience. (Firemen enter around 5:00) 

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