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by Josh Valentine

OUT OF CONTROL IN NYC

It's awfully difficult for a band like U2 to top a homecoming show. Their concert on September 1 at Slane Castle in Ireland had all the trimmings... a full day of mist and cold, yet to be bombarded by a beautiful, clear night; a win for the Irish football team over Holland (much energy after that); 5 opening acts (only Moby is worth mentioning); an emotional, heart-wrenching, homecoming gig (Out of Control was undeniably the best ever); and 80,000 of their "tribe." It was the greatest U2 experience of a lifetime.

It's unsettling that an event like September 11th brings out the best in people. It brought out the best show U2 has ever played. Much better than that show at Slane. And it was in New York City. However much the 11th has been marketed (how many American flags did YOU buy?), commercialized, or over-hyped by the 24-hour news stations, 5000 people sacrificed their lives so that Americans can again say that this is the greatest country on Earth. All it took was a band like U2 to bring 50 or so of New York's firefighters on stage to make the 2 1/2 hour show seem worthwhile. And dont get me wrong, everything previous was 100% GOOD.

Songs like "Kite," "Stuck in a Moment," and "Please," all which embrace the human spirit, rang with renewed resonance in the Garden that night. I've seen U2 so many times, yet I still got fresh goosebumps from every tune. It was New York. It was my home. It was good to be back. In the back of the heart, I might add. It was also good to see The Edge wearing a studded Yankees T-shirt. Even though I'm a Mets fan since birth, I felt I had to cheer along with "Lets Go Yankees!," every single night at the Garden. The Edge also had the balls to wear that very same shirt in Providence... but, what does he care? It's a tribute to all things New York and American.

It's wonderful to know that your favorite band also shares most of your political views. At the end of each show on this tour, Bono would mention, during "One," the struggle of third world countries and their debts owed to the western world. On this night, in New York City, after September 11th, he STILL mentioned the struggle of Africa. This should be commended, not only because our fight for freedom is for the USA, but it is for all of civilization. We are not alone. Come to think of it, the final 2 1/2 minutes of "One" are the best 2 1/2 minutes in U2 history. When The Edge continuously plays that chiming chord, Bono remains silent, and it's just THE BAND. You know what I mean... it's just the freaking band. ZOO TV, Popmart, Elevation, I'll never get sick of that part. I'll never get sick of that song. And during the last leg of this Elevation tour, a scrolling list of the deceased on September 11th (specifically the airline victims, EMS, NYPD, and FDNY) rolls up the screen during "One." I know someone on that list. His name was Jeremy Glick. He wasnt a friend of mine, but he was a few years older than me and graduated from my high school. He was one of the ringleaders in the plot to take over the terrorists on the plane that crashed near Pittsburgh. I look for his name every time, because it just feels right to be connected to those victims.

Needless to say, the firefighters who joined U2 on stage for "Out of Control" at the end of the night were the most valuable players of the evening. They pranced around the heart, only to be overcome with fans who urged a high-five. I tried to get as many high-fivers as I could, because these are the heroes of my generation. No matter what their political views, no matter what they think of our war in Afghanistan, they remain the saviors of human existence. These regular guys. These regular family guys from New York. They wake up at 4 or 5. They go to work. They work hard. They provide for their wives and kids. They listen to Howard Stern. And they care about helping other people. "Out of Control" was there song. It was the best version U2 ever played and will ever play. Written by the band while they were still teens at Mount Temple, it still plays out as the ultimate U2 tune. It's timeless. It's the best. However minute U2's existence might be in this time of war, they totally and without a doubt, destroyed Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2001.

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