Thank you, U2.
Thank you for the last four years of tours. Thank you for Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Thank you for the remixes, the new song, and for working on a new album already (and thanks to Dallas for sharing that detail at the U2 Conference in Sydney!). You’ve spoiled us. (Or deepened the addiction… I’m not sure how to process no more U2 shows for who knows how long… Hello withdrawals… )
Thank you for introducing me to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (and his potty mouth humour) and The Waterboys. Thanks for eliciting a Pavlovian response and course of adrenaline and pure joy every time I hear The Whole of The Moon.
Thank you for the artistry, creativity, and experimentation over the past 43 years. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, yours is the career and repertoire that could have rested on its laurels decades ago. But you don’t. I honestly think you actually can’t, it’s just not physically or mentally possible for you four.
Even when you give us an anniversary tour celebrating 30 year old classic The Joshua Tree, you flip the show on its head, rearrange the songs, link the material to new stories (the hallmark of everlasting music I might add), create new stage personas and cutting edge technology and imagery to give an experience eons away from anything any other artist has attempted, including yourselves.
Thank you for taking the time at airports, hotels, and venues to come say hi to us and take pictures and sign things. Not to mention at restaurants and art galleries and out on the streets. We know you don’t have to do this, but you do. And I like to think it means as much to you as it does to us.
Thank you for the community you have built with us. Thank you for the lifelong friends I have made along the U2 road (and thanks social media for facilitating this). Our U2 family. Our tribe. I don’t know if it just comes naturally, the connection between you four, your families, your crew, and us fans, that enabled this depth of community to exist and flourish. I don’t know if it was somehow a cosmic convergence of band, time, fans, music, need in the world, need in each of us to belong to something magic. Or whether you purposefully cultivate it as part of your master plan to take over the world (hurry up with that, ok? I’m tired of this era of Trumpness). But it’s real. It’s there. And it’s rare. I am not aware of any other celebrity/fandom relationship that works like us (though the Supernatural cast/fandom comes close).
Thank you, Bono, for saying this during Sydney 2:
Thank you for giving us such a great life! Who could have imagined. Thank you. Look, we don’t know when we are next all gonna be together, so I just want to say thank you for being so supportive of our band and listenin’ to me bang on and on. We don’t take this relationship for granted. It’s a relationship, you’re our community. Our music comes out of that community. The more we get separated from you, the less we are gonna make music and write songs like this… (Said before launching into One.)
We don’t take this relationship for granted either. It’s special. There is a bond that connects us. That you feel it too means the world to me. And our music, art, passion, the things we create and do, our hearts, comes out of this community as well. You inspire us. We inspire each other. To create. To philanthropize. To carry to each other. And I thank you for this.
Thank you for showing us what loyalty and friendship looks like. I’m sure there are moments when you want to walk away, when you drive each other up the wall. But what we see are four friends who still love each other after 40 plus years, who are there for each other, who laugh with each other, and still look at each other like this.
We see lasting partnerships with your friends, spouses, crew, business partners. And I thank them for showing us kindness and care as well. We see you. We see authentic friendships and we know this isn’t just about making music, making money making music. Loyalty begets loyalty. Love begets love.
Thank you for giving it your all. For showing that when life knocks you a few steps back in physical, mental health, you get back up. Life happens. We are all getting older. It gets harder to get up. It gets harder to tour, to follow a tour. But you do. So we do. Where you go, we will follow.
Like to Australia. And Japan, and New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines, and India.
So thank you for bringing this tour, any tour, but particularly this Joshua Tree tour and its infusion of Experience and Innocence, to Australia and beyond. I am lucky enough to be able to afford to travel and it has been a long-time dream to go to Australia, and to see a U2 concert (or four) while there.
Australia fans are amazing. Their energy is palpable; their love of you, legendary. And so I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. And that’s just me – I can only imagine the emotions of waiting and then exultation at the announcement local fans experienced.
This leg of the tour has been even more emotional and exhilarating, cathartic, for me than the North American and European shows were. I didn’t think it possible. Maybe it’s another cosmic convergence involving:
- The length of time since the last shows in this part of the world (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no doubt in my mind that you guys miss us just as much as we miss you during gaps between physical proximity, so the longer the gap, the more emotional the reunion for all of us);
- Playing One Tree Hill near One Tree Hill;
- The anniversary of INXS’ Michael Hutchence’s passing and your tributes to him during the show, the audience singing Never Tear Us Apart with full hearts and lungs with the sound speakers as we left the shows (singing both for Michael and for you: “Two worlds collided, and they could never tear us apart.”);
- The place-iversary and almost exact to the date anniversary of Adam unable to perform due to his addictions (Sydney November 26, 1993), its significance in him seeking help, and Bono’s lovely words during Sydney 2 about how Adam lost one life in Sydney but found another one that’s better because of it;
- Bono’s almost therapy session during Sydney 2 (seriously – this show was a particular emotional roller coaster!) about his dad, while waiting for the Edge to fix his guitar:
I used to watch my father taking his make-up off for theatre. He was an opera singer. He liked things out of tune, but not that out of tune (Edge’s guitar)….. OOOh, Edge is gone, the show might NOT go on. What would my father think of that? ‘You dirty bloody eegit, you cant even play in tune. How long have you been workin’ on that album?’ 3 weeks. ‘How long is the song?’ 3 minutes. ‘what are ye doin, you big eejits. Get with the program. One day, you could be an opera singer like me.’ There ya go (to Edge, who is back with tuned guitar). And he lived it, too. Bob Hewson was his name. I learned recently, how great a man he was. I love him very much. I wish I had told him that when he was alive. I have his voice inside me and I have the daughter he never had in my life. He loved Ali (Bono’s wife) and tonight, I’m singing this for you. (The Best Thing About You.)
Thank you for these concerts. I basked in the glory of the music I most adore in life. I sang at the top of my lungs, and bounced and danced and cried and laughed with you and 240,000 like-minded souls over four nights.
I met a fan in a record shop the day after the Perth show and we talked about the tour – he as an Australian who hadn’t seen this tour before, me as a visitor who has seen it many times. And he said what so many of us say: a U2 show is like going to church. It is reverence, and worship, and a meeting ground for community. And I thank you for this too.
These concerts gave me the ability to reunite with my U2 family (some of whom even arranged a U2 fan river cruise in Sydney! – what other fandom does this?!), to say hi to Bono and Adam, to see a country I have only dreamed of, to surf down sand dunes, stick my feet in both the Indian Ocean and Tasman Sea, and watch tiny penguins parade from the sea to their homes. I saw koalas and kangaroos in their natural habitat, and had a BBQ and star gazed under the desert sky.
Much of this I would have done in life anyways. I am, because I travel. But you, U2, give me an unparalleled reason to do these things when I do. And I thank you for this.
Through all this – the music, the community, the creativity, friendship – you open the world for us.
And for this, I cannot thank you enough.
P.S. Sometimes, the photos just don’t work out well… Sometimes, they kinda look cool in their wrongness. I like to call this series ‘Spectral Photography’ 😛
For even more photos from these concerts, check out my Photo Gallery 2019.
The shows I attended were:
Melbourne, November 15, 2019 Marvel Stadium
Sydney 1, November 22, 2019 Sydney Cricket Grounds
Sydney 2, November 23, 2019 Sydney Cricket Grounds
Perth, November 27, 2019 Optus Stadium