Something spectacular happened the other day. Something wonderful and moving and beautiful. Something unfathomable and electric.
But then immediately on its heels something heart-breaking, stressful, and equally unfathomable unfolded, wrenching focus entirely from that beautiful moment into a frenzy of single-minded determination ending in, well, un-fulfillment and waitlisted out-priced emptiness.
Ok. That’s a tad dramatic. But if you are in the U2 fandom maybe you know of where I wallow.
On Wednesday, April 26, 2023 a good friend (and fellow U2 aficionado) and I went to see Bono tell a few stories from his autobiography (Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story) at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Bono of U2.
U2 of my heart.
My boys. The musical loves of my life. The soundtrack of my soul. Bono, whom I adore for these 60 reasons and so many more.
Bono, not just on any stage, but a theatre-size, intimate, up close stage, and me (and my friend) right there in first row. Arms reach away. Able to see blue blue eyes flashing behind pink glasses away. Cerulean eyes holding my own (and those around me no doubt) for seconds, hours, years (I don’t know, I lost track of time in them) as he pauses in movement and story on our side of the stage away.
Something beautiful happened here.
Stop. Pivot. Shut down all processing of Bono at the Beacon. Because…
Surrender to the Ticket Masters
Also on that Wednesday, U2.com were to inform fans whether our requests for tickets to the upcoming U2:UV Achtung Baby Live limited concerts in Las Vegas via their fan club members only presale would be fulfilled. More opportunities to see Bono and U2 live!!!
Bono, who inspires me. U2, who raise me up, whose music equates euphoria…. (Ok – you get the idea – I love them.)
U2, not just on any stage, but on this ground-breaking, technologically cutting Edge (yes, I said Edge), ginormous, behemoth of an entertainment venue known as the MSG Sphere.
U2 as we’ve never seen or heard them or ANY other musician or performer before (and not just because, sadly, for the first time ever, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. will not be playing with them – due to surgery). The sound and visual systems in this beast are not just to be state of the art, but lightyears beyond what currently exists. Systems that will be ground to sky. If we thought the 2017 Joshua Tree 200ft wide and 45ft high LED video screen was gargantuan, it will seem ant-like in comparison to this 516 feet wide and 366 feet high titan.
I MUST be at this show! It is mandatory. Essential!
Also on Wednesday, notice from Ticketmaster’s Verified Fans was to come in by evening to those fans who registered on this platform whether they would be given a code to the TM pre-sale the following day (Thursday). Even mooooore opportunity to get tickets to see this once in a lifetime event (ok, well 17 dates in a lifetime)!
To say I was ecstatic for Wednesday is an understatement. Excited. Brimming with upcoming Bono book tour anticipation and future U2 concert ecstasy. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t get a ticket.
I didn’t get a ticket.
At some point after the Bono show (I will return to that experience, I promise), news began to pop up and explode on social media of friends and fellow fans announcing their success in fan club tickets and/or Verified Fan status, but still no emails for my friend and I.
Oh, the stress of waiting and checking and re-checking! The hyper-focus of news and anticipation of these sales completely sidelining the Bono show from our brains! No time to bask in those moments. Only space to surrender to the ticket gods!
Finally, we both got the emails. Sadly, we both were denied in the U2.com presale (stated in the email as unfulfilled, unfulfilled, unfulfilled) and both waitlisted on TM’s Verified system, meaning more uncertainty, more waiting, will we make it off the waitlist and would anything be left?
Thursday’s Verified pre-sale comes and with it more complete absorption in ticket planning mode and what will be. But Thursday was also both of our travel days home. My friend on the train, potentially facing a tunnel just as the tickets are dropped. Me on buses, trains, and planes, facing airport internet and no access while in the air. Our friend, who would join us in Vegas, at work and in a different time zone, also unfulfilled and waitlisted.
Enter the influx of texting back and forth under travel conditions to coordinate and communicate this ticket madness.
All of us released from the waitlist at different times; me, the last of us (after reading their unfruitful and a bit heart-breaking attempts to get us tickets), finally in the queue just minutes before my flight was boarding.
Somewhere in the melee more dates were announced and immediately put on sale. Yet all three of us still found just scant tickets and all of them of Ticketmaster’s diabolical ‘Official Platinum”/ dynamic ticket pricing (essentially scalper prices but ‘official’ because it’s TM doing it…).
Hotel packages that included tickets Über expensive for my wallet. (Though the continued shut-out is making me reconsider diving into these packages and eating ramen noodles for a few months…)
Unfulfilled, waitlisted, and priced out.
But it’s ok, it’s fine. Surrender to hope. Because there was still the general sale the next day (Friday).
Oh wait! Nope. That’s not gonna happen either.
Ticketmaster announced on Thursday “due to overwhelming demand for tickets” in the fan club and Verified presales, there were not enough tickets left and the general sale was cancelled!!!
Whaaaaaaaattttt?????!!!! No general sale? How is that even possible!?!?!
Did Ticketmaster learn nothing from Taylor Swift and her Swifties???
U2-fan first world problems, I know, but the utter soul-crush of not getting a ticket… it’s desolating. Heart-wrenching. This is my band. My heart. My happy place. This is my community. My friends – many of whom I only see on the U2 road when we congregate around the world for this band and this love.
Not getting a ticket isn’t just about not seeing the band play live. It’s all of it. Missing the band, missing my friends, the experience, which has been likened so many times, including by me, to going to church. It’s not even FOMO, there is no FO – it’s just entirely, truly, and despairingly, Missing Out.
And the sheer number of life-long U2 fans, like myself, who experienced the same in this ticket sale is staggering. Enough so, U2.com sent us yet another email – acknowledging the concern and promising to work on it to get us tickets.
Surrender to hope. There is always hope. And there IS hope. Rumours are fan club members who requested but were denied tickets on that Wednesday will get a second go at the new dates released that Thursday, and that three further dates will be announced. Presumably we will get a shot at those as well.
Hold on to hope.
Because you know what? I don’t want to wallow anymore.
I want to bask in the glory that was Bono at the Beacon.
So here we go!
Surrender to Glory
There is a reason U2 are the super group they are for as long as they have been (since September 25, 1976… almost 50 years!!!). Ok, there are a plethora of reasons, but one of them is Bono.
Bono is charismatic, charming. He is funny and endearing. And no one can deny the man is super talented! Even if you don’t like his politics or his style of music, or just hate him for whatever reason, you can not deny he can hold a tune with the best of them (and he has… Pavarotti, Sinatra, Mary J. Blige, Patti Smith, to name a few).
If you don’t believe me, you really should go see this show too (though hurry, the last show in May 7, 2023 (unless you can attend the invite only show on May 9).
This show is the antithesis of most U2 concerts – it is just Bono on a minimalist stage (two comfy chairs, a table with four chairs, a mic stand and backdrops that display changing imagery and Bono’s art) with minimalist musicians (a harpist, a cellist, and Jacknife Lee). And without his bandmates, the stadium sound system, the lights, and bells and whistles of a U2 tour, Bono is still a powerhouse of a singer. If it wasn’t obvious to you before, it is glaringly, irrefutably so on this tiny little stage as he belts out a number of U2 songs and an aria in this little book tour.
And, whew, does he belt them out! Especially the aria, which he sings a capella.
And yet with phenomenal control in also taking it down to a passionate whisper, a heart-felt sigh of a lyric. And everywhere in between.
As he always has, he more than sings these songs at this show, he emotes them. He pulls you in so tightly to his words and voice you feel he’s singing your life stories, that he’s somehow channeled into your soul and is breathing your emotions through his words.
In those lyrics you can’t recognize as your own experience, Bono still manages to somehow throw out invisible strands of emotion you can’t help but feel along with him. He makes empaths of us all.
Surrender to the songs, to the feelings.
Bono is magic. (And the re-imagining of the U2 songs he weaves in this performance are magnificent.)
But this show isn’t about the songs so much as it’s about the stories. Stories from the book – the ‘Buuk, what he wrote himself.’ Bono’s autobiography, his “we-moir.”
The stories tell the songs; the songs, the beautiful illustration of the stories.
And Bono is a storyteller.
As with the music (because what is music if not stories told through sound and vibration), this book moves you. It is funny, poignant, heartbreaking, hope-giving, inspiring, earnest, and relatable.
At the Beacon, Bono shares some of his life stories from his book. But Bono doesn’t just sit down and read the book. No, Bono performs the book. Because as much as Bono is a storyteller, a singer, a musician, Bono is a performer.
And as with the songs he sings, Bono pulls you in and holds you tight to his stories at the Beacon (and in the book – get the audio version. You won’t regret it). Stories that become your stories. And you laugh, full on giggling, you snort, you nod in understanding, in reminiscence of your own feats and follies through this thing called life.
Surrender to the storyteller.
And you cry. You weep. Not that convulsing full blown body-shaking hysterical weeping, because you are in a theatre after all; but that silent (almost), deep inhaling sobbing where tears just stream down your face uncontrollably and you wipe your eyes over and over because they just won’t stop. Because F%&# cancer. Because losing a parent is never easy, whether you are 14 or 40.
You surrender to the emotions, to the journey.
And you watch Bono, and he watches you. Because Bono does that. He makes eye contact. And he holds it. So you get caught in the blue through pink gaze. You get the feeling connecting – human to human – is vital for him.
This little book tour, this minimalist show, with the gigantic impact, where Bono even moves the stage furniture around himself, is the epitome of why I love Bono and U2. Sure, I can’t relate to dialoguing with presidents or singing with Pavarotti. I don’t know what it’s like to form and chair an organization that saves countless lives by providing AIDS drug and working towards ending extreme poverty around the world. I don’t know what it feels like to sing to a crowd of 90,000 people singing my songs with me.
But this book, this show, and Bono and U2 are shared humanity. They tell the stories of the human triumphs and tribulations of friendship, love, loyalty. Of work woes, of everyday contemplation of religious and philosophical ideations. Of surrender.
U2 tell and show me maybe I can’t change the world, but I can help change the world around me in my own way (yah, I went there, what’s a U2 blog post without a stolen U2 lyric or two to state a point :P).
There’s a moment in this show, right at the start, where Bono jumps on the table and vigorously mimes the surgeon cutting through Bono’s breastplate to fix his heart. That’s what this show is, what Bono and U2’s music does. It cuts through the hard stuff, pulls out our hearts, tears away the hurt, and puts it back in, saving our lives and making it better.
And you surrender to it all.
P.S. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you may be wondering where are alllll the photos!?! Well, this event was a device-free event. Meaning show-goers had to deposit our phones, cameras, and even smart watches into little bags that were then locked and given back to us. So – no camera.
And as much as I loooooove taking photos at shows, I’m kinda really glad I didn’t have one for this one. It really was close and intimate and watching it through a lens would have placed a noticeable and awkward barrier between audience (me) and Bono. Potentially disrupting or even disappearing that depth of emotion and connection.
(Not to say I won’t bring my camera to other concerts in the future!)
This was so beautifully written! There were two phrases you turned that are so perfectly clear. The first was “…maybe you know of where I wallow” and the second was “..a heart-felt sigh of a lyric”. And I cried (it is only 8:30 in the morning and weeping) over your comments about cancer and losing a parent. A beautiful tribute to an event, a man and a band who you love so truly.
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Aww, Amy, thanks so much for the beautiful comments! They mean the world to me!