Well. I am a week back from my profound, amazing, astounding trip to New York City for three U2 eXPERIENCE & iNNOCENCE concerts and a momentous (for me) meet and greet with Adam and Bono (more on that here) (and, you know a few Broadway shows, but this isn’t that kind of blog)… sigh… gush… sob… A week of normal. A week of reality. After all that.
Music Fangirl Confession #5: So let me tell you about this little thing called tour withdrawal (aka tour head)… It is the boom and crash of emotions experienced at the end of two plus hours of solid fervid concert euphoria. A euphoria that has grown from an immediate flame lit the instant the tour was announced, increasing through the excitement and stress of buying tickets, into a slow burn of exhilaration over the months that pass as you wait impatiently for show day. Then show day skyrockets the anticipation as you wait in line to enter, rush to your spot, and wait those last hours and minutes for the show to begin. Waiting. Waiting.
And then the lights go out (and you throw your self about), the opening song begins and the elation, passion, consumes you wholly in a whir of bass, drums, guitar, and vocals. A feeling of unity, synchronicity as thousands jump, sing, dance as one in this shared love. Euphoria.
And then it is over.
And the tour head dives right in. It is the end of that extreme high, the coming down. It is deep, intense pining. It is heart break and mourning the loss of those emotions and, if it was your last show of a leg or tour, knowing there is a huge gap in time before you can feel that high again.
It doesn’t necessarily happen for all artists you see live. And it doesn’t happen to everyone… But it happens. And it’s brutal.
And this is where you can reach me now.
I am in a mixed state of grief and missing my boys and flashes of unadulterated joy and giddiness from the memories. I miss them… I miss the music. I miss their physical presence and proximity (such as it is in a tour). I miss the excitement and adrenaline. I miss singing at the top of my lungs and bouncing in time (or my own time, anyways) to the very high decibels of this music that I adore above all other music. I miss hanging out with and running into my U2 family on the road.
The complete, all-encompassing bliss of a U2 concert, I miss this like I would miss breathing.
My salvation is knowing I have more U2 shows coming up in November (ack – thats soooo far away!)
And that, my friends, is one of the many many reasons why I go to multiple U2 shows…
When I only went to one show per tour, the withdrawal was instant and excruciating – I started grieving the minute the band walked off the stage and I knew it was going to be potentially four more years before I’d see them again. Devastated! Crushed… Addicted… Longing for more and sooner…
Now I am fortunate enough (and miserly, prioritizing my time and money for these experiences over other things in life) to be able to combine my travels with multiple concerts when U2 are on the road. There is less grief when another show is quickly on the last one’s heels. More to look forward to, less gaping holes of time between shows, and more chances to experience all the things.
When you go to only one, it is overwhelming – all the spectacle, all the sounds, all the imagery. It flashes by and while you are looking here, you are missing there. When the show stops you feel like you missed so much. This might be why I cannot remember anything about my first U2 concert, Popmart. I only saw the one show and it pretty much blew my mind to the point where I only remember walking down the street to the venue – nothing of the actual show, not where we sat, and not even getting home, lol.
And that, my friends, is another reason for going to multiple shows: you get to see so much more. And if you manage to get seats (or GA) in different spots around the arenas, you get different views!
As I mentioned in my review of the Vegas show, we were along the rail where the main stage joins the catwalk, on Edge’s side. An amazing spot, especially for all the stuff on main stage and most of the band on the catwalk. But I couldn’t see any of the imagery on the cage screen and really nothing of the e-stage unless I was looking through the masses of hands and heads with my handy zoom lens.
For the two NYC shows and the Jersey show, I purposefully bought seats (and a GA) in different locations. For MSG1 I was Adam side, almost parallel but edging to the back of the main stage. For MSG2 we were on the floor and started at the middle of the catwalk then moved to different parts of the e-stage. For Jersey I was in the seats close to the e-stage. The result, beautiful and completely different vantages and a feeling that I have seen the show.
Its funny, people frequently ask me why I go to more then one show on a tour… “Do they change the setlist?” A bit, but not too much. “Then its the same exact show? I don’t get it…” “You just saw them…”
But its never the same show. Yes, the set list might be almost the same, maybe a song or two different, maybe the visual effects are the same, maybe even Bono’s banter and speeches are mostly the same. But each show is so vastly different. Like I said, sit in different spots and its a different show.
But even if you had the same spot each time, they still vary wildly. The crowds are different, which means energy is different. Some shows are out of the world insane, crackling energy like a volcano ready to explode, sparks flying, spitting fire. Palpable, contagious energy that feeds the heart and soul. Some crowds plan surprises for the band – like everyone wears the same color, everyone brings balloons, or everyone holds up a piece of paper at a specified time in the show that then creates a massive picture or message… And some crowds are reserved, contained.
The locations make a difference as well, different in terms of both city and venue. Some cities have a strong U2 connection (Dublin, Berlin, NYC), which adds a specialness to the show. Dublin in particular brings a home crowd full of the band’s friends, family, teachers, community, etc. The shape and size of the venue changes the show. The connection of the band to the venue creates a certain vibe. Madison Square Garden is such a venue. I think Bono said they have played MSG more than any other venue.
The progression of the show over time; being there on the first night is vastly different than the last of the leg. The energy of the first show – that reunion of fans and band that I mentioned here and being amongst the first to see the newness – no spoilers, fresh and the band still working out the kinks. The last show, more polished and with an energy of completion, the end, and of not knowing when will they tour your area again.
And then, just random differences happen – sometimes the band bring on guest musicians – Eddie Vedder, Lady Gaga… or they’ll bring on crowds of fans. Then of course they have their off nights, funny nights, whatever. And the fan reunions and community – each show is different in this as well.
You just never know with a U2 show…
And then, for me, I go to multiple shows because of the simple fact that nothing else brings me as much and as deep joy and happiness as a U2 show (other than the love of my family… blah blah..). It is my passion above all my passions.
Which, is clearly why I pine when the show is over, and why I may or may not be searching to see if I can add a couple more shows before November… reality and sold out venues say no, but I still gotta look!
The tour head makes me do it…
(For more photos from these concerts and the one in Vegas, check out my 2018 Photo Galley.)