The air was full of blurred voices this Easter, Sunday the 15th at the Rose Garden, as everyone waited in suspense for PJ Harvey and U2 to take the stage. There were no floor seats, and the crowd was looking quite eager for this concert to start.
Sitting seven rows up from the floor I had a perfect view of the stage and the heart shaped catwalk that Bono and The Edge would strut out on. The vendors were running around frantically, trying to sell their merchandise before the frenzy of people tore down the stage. The crowd was very diverse, since U2 has been around since the mid-’70s.
PJ Harvey got on stage with her sleek leather skirt and high climbing leather stiletto heels. In her first song she chanted in a sultry voice, “Lick my legs and I’m on fire” breaking the long awaited silence of the crowd. PJ Harvey could be best described as a rock goddess with a voice as powerful as Joan Jett’s and with the stage presence of Pat Benatar.
During the wait for U2, I talked to a fan sitting next to me, Andy Church, 38, from Maui who has seen U2 12 times. He flew up to Portland to see them. Andy said, “I travel a lot for my business and if U2 is playing in a city I am in, I always go.” The first time he saw them was in 1982 in a high school gym of 800 in Maryland. Kicking off the “Elevation Tour,” Bono and the fellow members of the long-lasting Irish quartet took the stage; Bono wearing his usual all-black attire with a pair of purple designer glasses.
The band started with the song “Elevation” from their new album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The lights were left on during the song to let the press get a glimpse of the concert for the people who didn’t “spend their hard-earned cash on a rock concert,” as Bono thanked those that did later in the concert.
After the press had their fill of the band, the lights were turned off. Bono and The Edge proceeded out onto the heart-shaped catwalk playing an older song from their collection, “End of the World,” off the album Achtung Baby. While the band played, Bono and The Edge acted out a bull fight between each other. Bono taunted The Edge while he skillfully played his guitar. Then Bono charged The Edge gracefully with his hands on the sides of his head in the shape of horns.
The next song they played was another old song, “New Years Day”, from the album Unforgettable Fire. The Edge, being the musical genius he is, played the piano intro and the guitar simultaneously at the beginning of the song. Bono turned the masses into a choir on the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from the album Under A Blood Red Sky, while a sign reading “Sunday Easter Sunday” was flown high.
After the band played a couple songs Bono asked timidly, “Has anyone seen a brown leather bag?” referring to a leather bag that was stolen by two girls from his dressing room 20 years ago at a Portland show. The bag had all the lyrics in it for the album October. Bono said he was ready for forgiveness.
U2 then went on to play a few more new songs, “New York,” “In A Little While,” “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and their new hit single, that won three Grammies this year, “Beautiful Day.”
At the beginning of the song “Bullet The Blue Sky” from the popular album The Joshua Tree, the band targeted the president of the NRA Charleton Heston. They showed an interview of him saying, “There are no good guns. There are no bad guns. Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a good person is no threat to anybody, except bad people.” This was followed by a small child playing with a gun and violent scenes from the Vietnam War and other political conflicts.
Bono introduces the members of the band saying, “I’d like to do something that’s almost impossible for a singer to do, I’d like to introduce the band. Before we were U2 or even the Hype, before we lived up to that, before all those names, for one lunch break we were The Larry Mullen Band. The man who gave us our first jobs and has never stopped reminding us, Larry Mullen Jr.”
The crowd was ecstatic when Larry crept out from behind his drum set and walked out to the front of the heart. And then, “The jazz man, the musical conscience, the man with the biggest instrument, the first manager and by far the poshest member of the U2, our bassist, Lord Adam Clayton.” And last but certainly not least, “The scientist of the band, he could fly by space shuttle but no, he came to Portland on the train, even his mum calls him The Edge . . . The Edge, would you like some breakfast?”
The Elevation Tour will be going on through the end of August. U2 will be hitting major cities across the United States such as Atlanta, San Diego, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia and New York to name a few. The band will then go on to play in Europe in cities such as Cologne, Stockholm, Munich, Vienna and Berlin. Their last stop will be Slane, Ireland.
For the encore U2 came out and announced that Joey Ramone the lead singer of the Ramones had died at age 49 from cancer that day. The Ramones were one of U2’s first influences. With that in mind they continued to play the song “One” from the album Achtung Baby.
Bono then played a tribute to Joey, including a cover of a Ramones song, “I Remember You,” and dedicated a solo of “Amazing Grace” to Joey. The last song of the night was a song from the new album, called “Walk On.” Bono then thanked Portland and the almighty, his reference to God. He then thanked everyone for a great life.
U2 played a total of 25 songs over a time period of approximately three hours. Although there were more old songs than new songs, the concert was phenomenal.