Back in 1987, in my first year of law school (Hastings, in San Francisco), a friend told me that U2 was playing a free show in the Embarcadero. Since everything is within walking distance of everything else in downtown SF, I hoofed it over to the Embarcadero, and waited for about an hour past noon for the concert to start. (I had a break between classes, and this was more fun than studying.) Eventually, U2 popped out, I watched them perform "People Get Ready" (about which Bono said, "Curtis Mayfield co-wrote this song with God. All the best songs were co-written by God.") and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" before I had to catch the subway back to the Tenderloin for civil procedure class. I therefore missed the infamous moment -- captured on the film being shot during the concert, U2: Rattle & Hum -- when Bono climbed the ugly sculpture and spray-painted graphitti on it.
Could I have anticipated on that San Francisco afternoon that 18 years later I'd be watching U2 perform a spectacular show at the Staples Center, as I did yesterday? Well, maybe. After all, even in the mid-eighties we were treated to the spectacle of folks like The Who, The Stones, and the surviving Beatles continuing to perform long after their youth had wafted away. Rock and Rollers may hope they die before they get old; but if they survive, they keep on rocking.
Anyway, Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry put on a hell of a show, one of the best concerts I've ever been to. The lighting effects and stage design alone were stunning. And watching them, you realize that no one sings quite like Bono, no one plays a guitar that sounds exactly like The Edge, and Larry's drumming is unique. (As for Adam, most bass players sound about the same.)