United Centre, Chicago, May 14 2001
Hey U2 - relieve MY debt!!!
I went home early last night feeling dirty, used and mostly stupid. Yes, I wanted to be near them to witness the circus, hear some good music and see "the show". U2 and PJ Harvey graced our sorry asses with their presence in our fair city last night and based on the love coming from the crowd I feel confident that I'm the only person in attendance that had a negative reaction to the show.
The hype machine went into overdrive early promoting this one and I bought into it. Knowing a friend who was in the Fan Club, I felt that the $130 ticket price, while outrageous and the most I've ever spent for a concert ticket, would justify the enhanced experience that being in the presence of rock greatness offers - not to mention an opening act that I gladly would have made an effort to see anyway.
I arrived at the United Center to find out how wrong I was. Section 107 was at the furthest point in the stadium from that stage?not a bad seat for $25-50 dollars, but not $130. The General Admission folks filed into the "heart" but mostly behind it, smashing themselves and packing in as tightly as possible. Couples could not leave together to get drinks, go to the bathroom, etc., lest someone take the spot they'd been jockeying for for hours. The most disgraceful thing witnessed from Section 107 was how the wheelchair bound folks were treated. Three people in chairs filed in with their friends. The space allocated them was not only too small, but as soon as the show started and everyone stood, had NO VIEW of the stage. Perhaps they were just making the best of it, but why would sane people pay extraordinary sums of money for the privilege to be abused by rock stars?
Next up?the sound. When will I learn that the United Center is not a venue to experience a music performance in? PJ Harvey entered the stage with a set that was largely unrecognisable - and I knew all of the songs. I don't think she (and the instruments) meant to be mumbling through every song?but maybe I'm wrong. I knew immediately that I should leave based on principle? no good could come of the evening at this point? but the person that accompanied really wanted to see U2.
U2 finally emerged and treated the grateful audience to everything they wanted. Bono pranced, bobbed and thrust his fists in the air and the crowd mimicked his movements and shouted their appreciation. Bono spoke of Rushdie, as he has in the past of Joey Ramone, Michael Hutchence, debt relief, etc. Anywhere something is going on lately, you typically see Bono, making him in my mind the "Jesse Jackson of rock". Speaking of debt relief, what about my bills? The ticket price definitely makes prioritising personal spending for the month a must.
I think I'm finally at an age where I'm just over the obligatory stadium show with bad sound so I can watch some preening rock god that has an overly high opinion of himself be loved by the audience that's happy to snap up the crumbs that are left behind. But mostly, I'm furious with myself that I've overpaid for a ticket to put money this rock god's pocket leading him to have such and inflated opinion of himself.
After spending last weekend in New Orleans for a festival that allows you to experience a multitude of music on a daily basis for the low price of $20, I feel like an idiot. It isn't about the music, it's about the cult and I guess I just don't want to join.
Check out this more positive review of another of the shows on U2's North American Elevation Tour