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by Collin Souter

The Tuesday, Sept. 20 show was a solid U2 concert through and through, but for personal reasons, hard for me to really enjoy (that is NOT meant to be taken as criticism). Something happened early in the evening that I did not want to have happen and it sort of put a dark cloud over the rest of the evening. Tonight's show, in contrast, was more of an exorcism for me, a way of casting out those negative thoughts and emotions and it probably wouldn't have happened that way if I didn't go alone (By the way, is going to concerts alone strictly a guy thing? I never see girls doing it).

I stood in the Gladiators-only section--back near the sound board. Between the Elevation and Vertigo tour, I think I've seen these shows from every possible vantage point, except this one. It's no different, really. There's freedom in it. You can walk around at your leisure and there's plenty of space. Also, the advantage of going alone means you don't have to constantly ask your partner, "Should we move? Let's move. Do you wanna move? I think we should move." Nope. When that drunken bonehead with the cell phone continues to dance like Jim Morrison while invading your personal space and singing "Miracle Drug" off-key, you just move.

Move I did and moved I was. This show did something to me. There's something about knowing that this will be the last U2 show you'll see for a long time that changes your perception of it. You just know that it won't get quite this good for a while. The CDs, videos and downloads have their place, but it's still nothing like the real thing. "Streets" becomes a lifeline. "Bad" becomes a release. "One" becomes your life story. For me personally, the whole show carried the weight of catharsis; a means of conjuring up and casting out the negative emotions that had built up in me over the last 24 hours (and, quite frankly, the last two or three months).

All that aside, there is something quite profoundly moving about the "Miss Sarajevo" piece leading into the Human Rights video. For starters, it's already one of the best pieces of music I've ever heard, but there is something sublime about them playing it live. Nobody knows this song, but us, right? Yet, there it is every night. I cannot explain what this moment in the show does to me, but I know that I just stand there and think, "I am alive to see this. I can hear it. I can see it. I can feel it. In this moment, I am truly alive...and I will never see anything like it again." I don't know. Maybe that all sounds corny, but that's the way I feel. It brought me to tears both times.

There were a few surprises as well. "Wild Horses" was a first for me and I think I have a newfound respect for that song. "The Ocean" was played again and I think the boys have a better way of engaging the audience for that song on this leg of the tour than on the last. Mixing in the entire "The First Time" with "Bad" was a brilliant move and something that got the audience all the more enthusiastic. Great flamenco dancer (I think that's the right word) on stage during "Fast Cars," another welcome entry into the set list. She was great and clarly a die-hard fan. I even left the show with a silly grin as Larry remained the last man standing after "40." Knowing he's fully responsible for all of this, he walked over to the mic stand, took Bono's cowboy hat, put it on and bid adeiu to the audience. I wouldn't have wanted this show to end any other way.

All in all, a solid show both times around.

So this marks the end of another tour for me. The role U2's music plays in my life has changed vastly in the past year, both in a positive and negative way. Tonight's show was a point scored for the positive. Not entirely therapeutic, but certainly more helpful than showing up by myself, drinking heavily and making a complete buffoon of myself in public(I mean, really, what kind of break-up did that jack-a-s-s have anyway?!?). I was able to lose myself in the music this time and not dwell on other things. A good friend of mine--an Angel even--gave me some good advice before the show: "Think about it tomorrow."

Something tells me I'll be thinking about this show for a long time.

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