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In the Moment


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Let me start by saying I write this because I think it will be a fun and interesting topic, one which I have been giving some serious consideration.


Somewhere around 2009, I decided I was “all in” with u2. It took me a while. I went from not being a fan in the early and mid 80s to appreciating their talents with Rattle and Hum and mildly enjoying parts of Achtung Baby when it was first released. But then I turned my attention to jazz, classical, and blues. It wasn’t until 2005 when I started to revisit u2's songbook, and realized what I had been missing. The more Iistened, the more I liked it, and the more mind-blowing it was. NLOH was a home run as far as I was concerned, a perfect fit for where I was in life. From there, I started converting DVDs and youtube videos to MP3s, and next thing you know I had a pretty decent u2 collection.


My first u2 concert was during the 360 tour. It rained 90% of the time, and the rain was of the torrential variety. It was wonderful, almost like going back in time to Woodstock except the only band playing was u2. Still, my friend picked out the seats, and they weren’t ground level. Due to life circumstances, that was the only concert I could and would attend during 360.


Those life circumstances subsequently changed, and off I went in what I now call the Midlife Groupie Tour. I’ve only seen them three times thus far during i&e, but hope to see them at least once in Europe, perhaps Dublin. In a way, I find it sad that a u2 concert can give me this much joy, and that I feel the need to experience that joy over and over again. I’m almost like an addict out of a u2 song, only instead of suffering physical signs of addiction, it is mostly my bank account that suffers. So far, I don’t mind.


All of this is an introductory digression to the real point of this post.


During my first concert, my friend and I had front row seats at the auxiliary stage. Before the concert a woman went on and on about how we all needed to be “in the moment” during the concert. No cameras, no photos, no videos. “Just enjoy the music,” she exhorted.


I kept thinking, sounds good for you. But I’ve got front row seats at a u2 concert! Of course I’m gonna take pictures. And I did. I don’t know how many. Let’s say 100 (this will become important below). At the next concert, I had roughly second row seats for the main stage. Knowing my phone doesn’t like spotlights, I took fewer pictures when no spotlight was on the stage. The pictures were even better. This time I took maybe 50 pics. During the final concert, my friend and I decided to hang out the whole day in NYC and not stand in line. So we got actual seats in the arena bowl. No pics.


Since NYC, I’ve come across a couple of u2 concert vids where Bono expresses displeasure with fans using their cell phones, and in one he explains fans should be “in the moment” during the concert (and not take pics or videos). As I thought this through, I think I understand part of where Sir B is coming from. For 20 plus years, the band had the best fans in the world, and all those fans had faces. Today I bet it often feels like those fans are human beings with no faces, just cameras and phones pointing at the stage from the crowd, which probably converts the humans into some kind of expressionless, faceless robot. I sympathize.


Nonetheless, I’m not sure I agree with the woman above or Sir B, if what they are arguing is that taking pictures prevents you from being “in the moment.” At two concerts, I took a total of 150 pics. It takes about 2 seconds to take a pic. So out of 5 hours of concerts, give or take, I spent 300 seconds taking pictures. Is that a lot? Perhaps. But I got 20 pics that are amazing, 20 pics that represent my exhilarating time at the u2 concert. Everyone I’ve shown them to has been equally amazed at how close and clear they are. . . and I don’t feel like they detracted from the show for me at all. I still feel like I was “in the moment.” When the first notes of Bad were played, I started screaming, “holy shit, it’s Bad.” Ditto the first time I heard Ordinary Love. So while I appreciate the singer’s perspective, I do take issue.


I might I add that I was totally, 100% lost in the music in NYC, so much so that when the night was over I couldn’t remember if they had played I Will Follow, and I’m the kind of guy who memorizes the set list as it unfolds. So being lost in the moment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. :  )


On a side note, I don’t take movies because I figure I can rewatch the concert on youtube the next day…

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This tour I just took my phone in and took a few pictures, because I too wanted to be in the moment and enjoy every bit of the show. I have a few good shots as I was on the rail for 3 out of my 6 shows but I will remember the feeling I had and how I took it all in. 

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