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by Ian Hiaring

Sorry for the double show review, but when I wrote this, that's how I did it. I'll post it in both sections for the 5/13 and 5/15 shows.

5/12 - The Trip Begins
The plan was to travel from Kansas City to Des Moines, Iowa after work. Pick up my sister and drive to Chicago Saturday morning. Sunday night, my sister, girlfriend, and I would see the show, and on Tuesday just my girlfriend and I would go. At the last minute, my sister wanted to go to Sunday's show, but I didn't have a ticket for her, so she told me she would go if I could scratch up a GA for her. Luck was on our side, as I managed to grab a GA from Ticketmaster online on Wednesday.

After work, I loaded up the truck, which had recently had about $800 dollars in repairs performed on it, and headed for Iowa. We ended up in Iowa at about 10:00, and I saw a few old friends in Iowa before heading to bed.

5/13 - Anticipation
We woke up at about 5:00 or so, showered up, and ended up hitting the at about 6:45 or so, a little later than our targeted 6:00, but early enough. I've driven the route from Des Moines to Chicago many times in the past, since I lived in Chicago for a year in 1997-98, but this time the trip didn't seem quite as long.

When we got into town, the first thing we did is swing by The United Center to see a few friends who were in line for Saturday night's show. We found them near the front of the line, and said hi. It was pretty chilly, and they looked really cold. Met a few old faces (Susan, Elena, and Tim) and a few new faces as well. One of the new faces was a guy named Jonathan, who was busy making a sign that said "Stay + Piano". Well, if you know anything about what happened Saturday night, it "paid to advertise" for Jonathan. Bono actually invited him on stage to play piano during Stay. Pretty cool, I wish we had been there to see it.

After that, we went and checked into our hotel, which was one block east of the Sears Tower (thanks Priceline). Once we got settled in, we napped until supper time, and headed to Gino's East, which makes the best Chicago Style pizza in the city. It had been about 3-4 years since I'd had any of their pizza, and I had forgotten how good it was.

That was pretty much all we did on Saturday. We wanted to be sure and get a good night's rest, because we had designs on getting to the venue very early Sunday.

5/14 - Heat
We woke up around 4:30 in the morning, made our preparations, and headed to the United Center. We arrived at about 5:20, and found ourselves to be #'s 3, 4, and 5 in line. A couple was already there, sleeping under a pile of blankets and a sleeping bag. Shortly after, people started lining up. Susan showed up, and so did Kevin. During the course of our wait, we did all kinds of things to pass the time, nothing too exiting though. The day turned out to be sunny, and very warm. I wasn't the only one who ended up with a sunburn. About 3:00 we headed over to see if we could catch the band as they entered the venue. We waited, and waited, and before we knew it, it was 5:00, and we still had to pack up all of our lawn chairs, cooler, and stuff into the car. So we decided to give up on the band. Sure enough, shortly after we left, the band arrived. I guess Bono stopped for just a few minutes, but Larry stopped for quite a while and signed things for fans.

The security crew was starting to tighten up the line at about 5:00-5:30, and the anxiousness set in. They had a little meeting, and we found out about the counterfeit ticket problem. So they went down the line and took a glance at all the tickets. I don't know if they found any fakes in the line, but I guess they had a real problem with fake tickets on Saturday.

Just before 6:00 they let us in to get our GA wristbands, and then led us to the arena to the Heart. Security was REALLY set on having us walk, not run. I think this whole GA thing has alot of venues worried that something might happen ala Cincinnati 1979, with The Who concert. I guess I can understand their concern. Better safe than sorry.

We opted not to go into the heart, and headed for the outside tip this time, which is exactly where my sister, girlfriend, and I ended up, right at the point of the tip. With Susan, Elena, and Kevin right next to us on our right. Perfect. Courtney, my sister, is a big U2 fan, mostly because of me. This was her first, and only, Elevation show. Kristen, my girlfriend, had never been to a U2 show, and I'm currently in the process of converting her. I had a good feeling about tonight's show for them. This would be unlike anything either one of them had experienced at a live show.

PJ Harvey started up right on time. Like Minneapolis, I wasn't too into her show. I read later on in a review that she is better suited for playing clubs, not arenas. This couldn't be closer to the truth. More on this when I get to Tuesday's show.

Once PJ finished up her set, it was time to REALLY start getting excited. The songs flew by, and before we knew it, the remix of Elevation started. I see that a clip of this remix is on u2.com now, so let's hope we see it on a B-side soon. The boys came out, Elevation started. Needless to say, the energy was incredible. With the exception of maybe Boston, Chicago is the best U2 city in the States, and it really shows during the show.

I'm going to say something here that might get criticized, but oh well. Beautiful Day is a fantastic song (three Grammys can attest to this fact), but I'm just a little sick of it. Not that I hate it or anything, but after seeing them perform it umpteen times in the promo tour, it's just lost a little bit of it's magic for me at the moment.

The set list really got thrown for a loop when they played Pride at the #3 slot. From that point on, there was a feeling that anything could be next. Kite has really turned into one of the high points of the show. Bono ended it with a couple of lines with just him on guitar, and I really liked that. When I saw New York in Minneapolis, they dropped all of the white sheets from the roof, and used the lighting to have huge shadows on the sheets, and used a strobe effect for some really cool visuals. Well none of that happened this time around, but it still is a pretty powerful song live.

Gone continues to be a fantastic live song from Pop. I always liked the way it came off live, ever since PopMart.

During Discotheque, Bono stepped onto the square directly in front of us, and grabbed my sister's hand for a couple minutes as he sang the song. Then near the end, when they go into Staring at the Sun, he turned around like he was going to step back up the heart ramp, but instead he fell back (gently) into the crowd. It really is a different look the show takes on with Bono's ass pretty much on top of your head. Bono included a couple of lines from INXS Devil Inside during Discotheque, which was pretty cool. Susan went nuts, because she's a massive INXS fan.

For The Fly, which is just fantastic live, at the end of the song, Bono did a couple of laps around the heart, and as the song ended, he "splatted" himself up against the multicolored screen behind the stage. This may not sound like much to hear me write about it, but was actually pretty cool.

In the first encore, during With or Without You, Bono pulls a girl up on stage to dance (she was a couple of rows directly back from us), and when she makes it to the platform, she is laying down. Rather than pull her up to dance, Bono laid down next to her, and sang pretty much the whole song while cuddling up with her. He eventually propped his head up on her hip while singing.

The botched beginning of Walk On has been pretty well documented. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but after listening to the mp3's from the show, I can tell you what Bono sang while Edge and Dallas were working things out.

"Oh, oh, now, think we finally pulled the plug.
Oh, now, Edge is having some bad luck.
Oh, now, got to put your foot on the switch.
Oh, now, sure it's gonna do the trick."

I thought the crowd was considerably more pushy than I had experienced in Minneapolis. Here's a couple of things I'd like to suggest to other fans in the audience.

1. If you're behind me, and you want to put your hand up over my head whenever Bono is near, that's fine with me, but after Bono has moved away, and everyone has stopped reaching for him, DO NOT rest your hand on my shoulder.

2. If you are going to be in GA where it might get a little crowded, please don't were a t-shirt that has glitter paint on it, or whatever that stuff is. My left arm got rubbed raw during the encore because of this.

After the show, we though about heading over to the bands hotel, but we were simply to tired, so we went back, and went to bed. We knew we would need all the sleep we could get.

5/14 - Down Time
Monday morning we rose, and cleaned up, went out for breakfast with my sister, and saw her off back to Des Moines. She still was coming down off the high she got from holding Bono's hand for a few minutes during the show.

Kristen and I wanted to check out the Art Institute, particularly since she was an Art major in college. We spent a few hours there, but determined that if you want to really take it , it's best not to try and see everything in one day. I'd been there before, but it was nice having her perspective on things. Art is one area where she knows considerably more than I do.

The plan for the rest of the day was to visit The Peace Museum, and eat. I always wanted to visit The Peace Museum when I lived in Chicago, but I never had a chance. After finally finding it's new location, we entered. Let me say that it's really in need of funds. They were forced out of their location near downtown, and it's currently located in a building right in the middle of Garfield Park. There really wasn't much to see. I couldn't find the lyrics to New Years Day that Bono had donated back in the 80's, and I was about to ask the lady where it was, when I spotted the framed sheet on the bottom level of a bookcase. It was pretty cool to see it, and we took a few pictures of it.

After The Peace Museum, I called Elena and we decided to head over to her place. I had some CDs I wanted to give her. Rosana from Uruguay and Victor from Argentina were staying with her, and we all decided to go eat at an Ethiopian restaurant. The food was excellent, as well as the company.

Kristen and I had to check into a new hotel (thanks again Priceline) that was a block east of the John Hancock Tower. After that we called it a night, and got some more sleep.

5/15 - Nirvana
We woke up Tuesday morning, and went up the John Hancock Tower, which was nice. I always liked the view there better than from the Sears Tower. After that, we grabbed a bite to eat, and went down to the venue.

At about 3:00, we headed over to the entrance hoping to catch the band this time. Just before 4:00, Adam and Edge showed up in one car. They each got out, signed autographs, chatted it up with us. They really spent quite a bit of time with the fans. I asked Edge what the 21 meant on his shirt today, and he looked me and said words to the effect of "You know, it's really interesting hearing what people think they mean." Cool, I had just had a conversation (albeit a brief one) with Edge. OK, so it wasn't really a conversation, but I can think that, can't I?

Shortly after they left, Bono came, and he spent a good 20-25 minutes with the fans. He was really gracious. He signed Susan's "U2 INXS" license plate for her, and he also signed a really funny picture that Gail had. It was from the early years, and it's Bono in his underwear posing like he was boxing or something. It's a really funny picture, and it was even funnier seeing Bono's reaction after looking at it.

I love the fact that all four of the band members spent time with fans before the shows on Sunday and Tuesday. It show just how down to earth they really are, and that they aren't completely oblivious to their fan base.

Susan asked Bono if they planned to play Out of Control. Bono replied by saying that they thought about it on his birthday in Indianapolis.

The lineup procedure went pretty much the same as it had on Sunday, but when we were inside the venue, just before they released us down to the floor, security placed a teenage couple at the very front of the line. I guess this kid was getting a birthday present from his big-shot uncle or something. Let me just say that this kid deserved all of the grief he took from us. Someone asked him what his favorite U2 album was, and he paused, and said "One". Rich little jackoff. I didn't see any sunburn on his skin.

This time, Kristen, Susan, and I decided to actually go into the heart, and get on the rail in front of Bono. That's exactly where we ended up, although slightly to Edge's side, which was perfect, because I really wanted to get a good look at Edge during the show. The rich kid and his girl ended up on the rail right next us. I looked over a couple of times during the show, and they were pretty emotionless. They would have been better off up in seats somewhere.

PJ Harvey came on, and let me say that her show is much better when you're up close. I think it's true that she would be amazing to see in a small club as opposed to an arena. Kristen and I really enjoyed her set, and afterwards, when they were tearing her stuff down, and getting ready for U2, we managed to get the set list from her show. Not too big of a deal, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.

Setting up for U2's show took longer than usual. They actually played an extra song before they finally started up the Elevation remix.

There's pretty much been two trains of thought regarding the best place to see an Elevation show from. Either the tip of the heart, or in the heart on the front rail. Now that I've experienced both, I think I prefer in the heart better. It was alot less crowded. It all depends on the show, and your preferences though. At some shows, Bono spends an extraordinary amount of time at the tip, at other shows, he's a bit more stagebound.

The music was incredible, and after Kite, which Bono opened up with his a capella lines (he finished the song with those lines on Sunday), you could tell something special was going to happen. Edge played those familiar chords, and Bono says, "This is our first single on Island records for you this evening.", then something goes wrong, and they have stop completely. Edge and Dallas work out their problems, while Bono says "That was our first single on Island records for you this evening, next is our second single on Island records...I'm not sure if my heart can take that twice." As the song finally get started up again, Bono says, "We haven't played this in about 20 years." Then it happens, they played 11 O'clock tick tock. It was amazing. It really felt like the heart was a small club that U2 was playing for. Near the end of 11 O'clock, Bono walks over to Adam, and then Edge, and says something to each of them. I could read Bono's lips, and I could distinctly make out the words "Out of Control" I didn't want to get too excited yet, but my heart nearly hit the floor.

Ever since Minneapolis, people have been clamoring for 11 O'clock to be played. I said to some of my friends that I'd rather hear Out of Control (or I Threw a Brick) instead. So you can understand why I was excited.

Sure enough, as 11 O'clock ends, Bono says again, "That was our first single on Island records, this is our very first single...maybe." Larry starts in with the pounding drumbeat, and Edge plays the unmistakable riff that is Out of Control. At this point, the heart just went nuts, and I was in a zone. I could have left the arena after that song and been completely satisfied. The coolest thing is that the boys looked like they were REALLY having fun playing these two gems from U2's early days. Gone were the pretenses of having to play new stuff, gone was the set list, because I found out later that Out of Control wasn't even on the set list (11 O'clock was though). This was heaven. Some of Bono's lines during the bridge of Out of Control were "You turned my world around, you turned it upside down." Truly amazing stuff.

The show goes on, and of the ten or so U2 shows I've seen, this was easily the best. During Discotheque (I think), Bono sings "Lick my legs, I'm on fire." a couple of times. An obvious reference to PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me", which she had done a fantastic performance of earlier.

I know that they've pretty much been alternating "Bad" with "All I Want is You" on the tour. I really like the way "Bad" segues into Streets though.

I don't think anyone got pulled onto stage, or any cell phones were sung into during "With or Without You" this time.

After the show I was on such a high. All I could think of or say was "They played 'Out of Control'." I was elated.

Kristen and I were starving, since we hadn't had any supper yet, so we drove back towards our hotel, debating whether or not to try and eat somewhere (it was after midnight) or go to the hotel and try and catch the band. After driving past U2's hotel (which is only 2-3 blocks from ours), and seeing that there were quite a few people there, we decided to eat instead. I didn't want to ruin a fantastic evening by waiting for a couple of hours in a crowd, and probably not even see the band. So we parked, and found an open Subway, and went in and grabbed a couple of sandwiches and sat down to eat. The place was empty, and who walks in... Jerry Meltzer and John Sampson (aka Mr. Clean). For those of you who don't know, Jerry and John are members of U2's security team, and more specifically, they are both pretty much assigned to Bono, wherever he goes. On stage and off. Well, seeing as there was no Bono around, so I asked them, "Where's Bono, I though you guys went wherever he does." Jerry says, "Well, he's at the hotel, that's why we're here." Talk about instant gratification knowing we made the right decision to skip visiting U2's hotel that night. We pretty much left them alone, after all, this was their downtime. And being assigned to Bono, there probably isn't too much of that. They ordered quite a few subs, I'm guessing for the rest of the security team. The only thing I really said to them after that was asking them if they planned on doing a third leg back in the States. John said, "Yes, they're gonna be back in October and November." Of course this isn't really earth-shattering news at this point. The third leg in the U.S. story is pretty much unofficially confirmed at this point. As they left they thanked us. This is interesting, because I'm not sure exactly why they thanked us. Was it for being great fans of the band, or for leaving them alone and not really bugging them too much. I'm guessing a little of both. At one point I thought about asking for a picture, but I opted not to. Didn't really want to bug them too much you know. Let me also say this about Jerry and John, they are so polite and nice. There was a lady in there ordering at the same time, and she offered them a plastic bag from her purse to carry all of their subs in, and they were extremely gracious and polite.

This was a very satisfying ending to a very satisfying day.

Unfortunately, this is the last show for me on this leg of the Elevation tour. Of course with this third leg, I'll be doing it all over again... and I can't wait.

To see all of my pictures from the 5/1 Minneapolis show and the 5/13 and 5/15 Chicago shows, visit:


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