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U2 without Bono keep World AIDS Day commitment

We all know how much different attending a U2 gig is as opposed to watching a concert DVD in the comfort of your living room.

Turn off all the lights in your house, cranking up the stereo and blaring Ultraviolet or dancing to New Year's Day just after the stroke of midnight on January 1st is great, but it's nothing like seeing our four guys jam in person.

Well, even with just three of the four guys rocking out onstage, actually being there at a U2 show is indescribably better, even if it means getting rained on in near freezing temperatures.

I have my fair share of complaints about living in New York City, but seeing two free, unique U2 performances in one year is not one of them.

For those of you hibernating until U2's next tour is announced any second now, the band, minus Bono, played a four song set in Times Square on Monday night, with Coldplay's Chris Martin and Bruce Springsteen substituting as U2's frontman.

And like the other few thousand people in attendance, I didn't find out about the concert until about 2:30pm, as I casually checked Instagram while at work.

All it took was a picture of the stage and a link to U2.com's story about that night's show and I nearly became ill with excitement. Luckily, a colleague of mine volunteered to cover a meeting I was scheduled to cover that night (the life of a news reporter is a busy one) and three hours later, I was sprinting to the subway station.

For those of you who are general admission regulars at U2 shows, think about on your level of excitement when you hear the band is playing in your city, the joy when you buy a ticket, the feeling when you wake up the morning of the show, the moment the stadium's gates open and the first glance you get of the band taking the stage.

Now condense all those intense feelings into a 30 minute subway ride to Manhattan. Yeah, I don't think my feet ever touched the floor of the train car.

About 90 minutes before show time, my girlfriend (who's two favorite musical acts are Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay) and I secure our spots about 50 feet from the stage. It rained heavily until about five minutes before the gig started, when it abruptly stopped. Not like we weren't already all wet anyway.

The night started with a special surprise as former US President Bill Clinton delivered some opening remarks at the behest of Bono. Despite my affiliation with America's other political party, seeing the former leader of the free world speak in person was just as big of a thrill as I've had, until a few minutes later when he introduced U2 and Chris Martin.

My all time favorite song is Beautiful Day, and I was half expecting it after Bono and Martin performed it together last year. Even with that in mind, hearing the opening bars of my favorite piece of music was so uplifting.

To me and the smattering of other big U2 fans around me, it seemed like a pretty faithful, rousing rendition, even if Martin appeared shaky at times with the lyrics.

To my surprise, Martin really shined during the next song, With or Without You. However, I admit I was a little distracted. My girlfriend's favorite U2 song by far is The Joshua Tree's lead single, and she was crying about two notes into Adam's bass playing.

Martin's strong lyrical delivery and the band's wonderful performance of the song made for a great dance with my love, and even the handful of teenage girls there to see Kanye West were dancing along, to my surprise.

Fast forwarding to the final two songs of the night (sorry Carrie Underwood and West, you two aren't really my cup of tea), I knew I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For would be played, and I was thinking One as well.

But the sound of that organ is unmistakable.

I grabbed my girlfriend's shoulders, scream "Streets!" and proceed to lose myself in The Edge's guitar notes as the rain began to fall again. And as is typical with proper U2 shows, the stage turned red. But tonight, Times Square was the stage, and every massive electronic advertisement in sight (and there's a TON of them) turned the most jaw dropping shade of red. For those few seconds, U2 had officially taken over New York City.

And there are few people New York City love more than Bruce Springsteen. As expected, he sang Where The Streets Have No Name and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For in his normally strong manner, with really gritty but excited vocals as only the Boss could delivery.

Even though I was the only person in my immediate area to treat Streets with the respect it deserves by jumping up and down maniacally, it was very well received by mostly everyone around me. A lot of claps, whistles and cheers for sure.

The soothing Still Haven't Found, complete with Bono's "Take me to church" line, closed out the show, with the night's performers getting a huge cheer. My girlfriend and I shared a big hug, kiss and a good giggle, and we were off to the subway.

I rewatched the show when I got home, and one thing that really struck me was how well The Edge took over as the band's on-stage leader with Bono on the mend. Through no fault of anyone, I feel our favorite guitarist can be overshadowed at times on stage by Bono and his personality, so it was great to see The Edge shine as we all know he can. He was confident, full of smiles and was, as Bono always says, on fire. If U2 were to break up tomorrow, he would have an incredible solo career ahead of him, for sure.

Much like U2's rooftop concert for The Tonight Show, the night was one I will never forget. Now excuse me while I get ready to bankrupt myself buying ticket's for the band's long awaited 2015 tour.

Posted on by Macphisto

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