U2 Jam Brooklyn. The media stunt that is Bono and Co. set to make a small plot of land under the Brooklyn Bridge more of a landmark than it already is. Not as quaint as the Beatles playing on top of Apple Records, the 5000 or so people there made it more of a concert, U2 were the Ron Artest of music, taking it to the crowd. For those of us assembled at the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park yesterday afternoon, the pre-concert, flat-bed through Manhattan video shoot for "All Because Of You" was missed. We did however catch the band on said flatbed truck coming back to Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge. The cameras captured the crowd waving at the truck and Bono megaphoning back to the crowd, “We’ll be down there soon!” as they stopped traffic on the bridge. The helicopters, the vibe, the happiness, it was wild how all this came together.
As the sun was setting, making the lights on the Brooklyn Bridge all that more dramatic, U2 took the stage. First swing, "Vertigo". This Apple ad is everywhere! The crowd is mental. The pogo-ing, the digital cameras, the camera phones, that's what shows in the '00s are all about. Next up was "All Because Of You" which had Phil Joanou of Rattle And Hum fame and his camera crew bouncing around the stage getting more footage for the video. "Miracle Drug" was set up with Bono dedicating the song to childhood friend Christopher Nolan, a paraplegic classmate who through science managed to learn how to move his head, and in turn, managed to write and type using an stick attachment designed for his head. Though silent his entire life, Christopher was now able to write out the poems and stories he had internally for the first time. Bono extolling that religion and science were one in the same as the song kicked in. One should not hold the other back. Dedications were big for Bono as he told a story of the passing of his father Bob Hewson in 2001 and how he was imparted with a gift, a voice, a voice that is stronger than it has been in years, and the opening chords of "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" rolled off. Bob must be smiling down.
For the first time live, U2 played new tracks "City Of Blinding Lights" and a stripped down "Original Of The Species" and to the surprise of Bono, the crowd sang the song back to him prompting a "how do you know this sh*t?" WTF moment. Slyly looking towards the Edge, Bono mused, "I think I know what happened to your CD" referencing a CD-R stolen from a photo shoot earlier in the year. "Original Of The Species" showcased a humble Bono on guitar and Edge on keys which segued into a "cover" of the U2-penned, Roy Orbison-recorded "She's A Mystery Girl". The slowed down acoustic songs contrasted the sequenced beginning of the rocker "Beautiful Day" which featured the impromptu breakdown "See the world in green and blue, Manhattan skyline right in front of you". Insert crowd going mental again as Bono turns toward Manhattan and salutes. Keeping the vibe going, the "Jermaine O'Neal-punch-to-the-fat-guy" is unleased in "I Will Follow" and it feels good. Mixing up the lyrics, Bono gets through unscathed, thanking the crowd, telling them, "see you in the springtime". Visions of stadium dates in the future could not be comprehended at this point. I was 15 ft from the band, I think Adam Clayton sweated on me.
But wait, the encore must be clapped for. They will not come back unless we clap for them and it worked. Clapping brought the band back. Remember that for my next show. And what was the knock out punch? First single "Out Of Control", again with lyrics on the spot and some crazy choruses, reminding us no one is perfect, even Bono. No worries, Edge saved the day with one of the more wicked guitar leads he has. Refute Edge's analog delay and feel the burn. He is simply the sh*t. Game over. Cymbals crashing, crowd cheering, Bono announces, "this one's for us" and the reprise of "Vertigo" is on. More pumped than the first time around, everytime the chorus goes, "Hello, hello", the crowd answers back "Hola!". It's a moment. It's real. You know it. I could have walked back to Manhattan across the East River I was so pumped.
Waiting around, post-gig, I see a friend who is dejectedly looking at what was supposed to be a setlist he had just begged the roadies for. Checking it out, I tell him it's the hand written bass tabs for Adam Clayton he has in his hands. Hello, eBay.