U2 played an inspired show last night here in Portland. My personal emotional tipping point came during a four-song sequence (“Love and Peace or Else”; “Sunday Bloody Sunday”; “Bullet the Blue Sky”; “Miss Sarajevo”) that perfectly framed the war in Iraq for me, with Bono introducing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” thusly: “America! This is *your* song now!” Tears instantly crystallized in my eyes, and when a young girl was brought on stage to help lead the capacity crowd in the bridge chorus “No More! No More!” I broke wide open, weeping and shouting in time.
Even though it was a carefully calculated part of the show, it’s hard for me to imagine even the most casual concert fan not being moved by the power of that moment.
And when Bono underscored the sentiment by draping an Irish and a U.S. flag over his monitor as it were a soldier’s casket, then miming a blindfolded prisoner amidst the searing riffs of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” a collective grimace washed over us in the crowd that–I hope–momentarily forced us to confront and take ownership of what is being done in our names in the so-called War on Terror(tm).
Ultimately, I hope everyone who has seen a U2 show in the United States this year left the arena with something much more important to think about than how neato the LED curtians were, or whether the band played their favorite song. And I think it boils down to something ridiculously simple: if we want to live on this planet for another generation, we need to fast figure out a way to (paraphrasing Bono here:) defeat the monsters without becoming ones ourselves.
Love and Peace.