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by Dave

A long, extraordinary day...

We were fortunate enough (or was it that we had waited in line long enough?) to be inside the heart, directly in front of the Edge. "Elevation" and "Beautiful Day" make an outstanding 1-2 punch to open a show and it wasn't until "Mysterious Ways" when I could slow down a bit and absorb it all. I turned to my fiancee and said "This is unbelievable! That's Bono and the Edge!" It sounds silly now, but it's hard to explain the emotions you feel when you see your favorite band so close.

Bono soon made it clear that he was ill. His voice was giving him problems and he did look sort of pale. He repeatedly said that he needed the audience to lift him up and, indeed, the audience did most of the heavy lifting when it came time to sing the choruses. I could tell that he really appreciated the Albany audience's efforts and he said so a few times. It was a terrific crowd, much more interactive than the Cleveland show.

It was quite moving to see someone of Bono's artistic stature struggle so publicly. Certainly he was upset that he was not at his best in front of thousands people who paid a lot of money and came a long way to see U2. Perhaps something else happened in his private life that none of us will ever know about. He looked like he was about to cry at several points in the show, particularly during "Pride," "Bad" and "Kite." Near the end of "One," it looked like Bono threw his head back to choke back tears.

I've come to admire Bono so much because he seems to inhabit the songs he sings -- he's not just reading words off a page. He wrote the words and he believes them. And how he's feeling on a given night or what the crowd's vibe is like will also affect his performance. I think it was a brave effort because it would have been easier for him to cut short the setlist or mail it in or even cancel the show. So what if he messed up a few lyrics or didn't hit the high notes. He's not a classical violinist; he's a rock star. He poured out the passion (and the sweat -- his shirt was drenched) and that's how you earn integrity as a performer.

Other highlights:
-- Adam leaving the rest of the band at the tip of heart during a full-on version of "Desire." He had a big grin when he returned to the main stage, alone. I like his "I'm just the bassist" attitude.

-- Rocking versions of "Gone," "Bullet the Blue Sky" and, especially the muscled up reworked "The Fly." My hearing didn't return to normal for two days. That's what happens when you're 10 feet from the Edge and don't wear earplugs.

-- Watching the interplay between Larry and Adam and also between Edge and Bono. I noticed that Bono mouthed the words "C'mon Edge" a few times. He need the Edge to pick him up, too. It's cool to see up close how much the four guys rely on each other to get through a concert.

-- Witnessing what a fabulous voice Edge has. I've always felt that his voice was the secret weapon behind many U2 songs, and this confirmed it. Bono really struggled through "Stuck in a Moment" and when he finished, he let the Edge sing the last verse. It was marvelous. After he was done, I bowed at him and he acknowledged me with an embarrassed smile.

Thanks for a memorable night.

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