Joint forces, a shared effort with mind blowing results. Tonight we sweat together, and if the guitar’s out of tune, or Bono out of key – we all laugh and shake it off (and hope Dallas Schoo gets to keep his job at the end of the day).
Your editor-in-chief experiences her first Elevation gig in Cologne.
I WANT TO SEE THEM SWEAT
In the queue for the 2nd night in Cologne, Germany, I’m on the mobile to a friend in Dublin.
‘Are you trying to get into the heart?’, he asks, ‘I’ve never understood why anyone would want to be up front. I always stay in the back.’
That’s because you’re a musician and you’re a weirdo, I think to myself and answer: ‘I want to see them sweat.’ I do. I want to be able to see every little thing.
It is my first Elevation gig tonight, and eight hours queuing pays off. My friends and I find ourselves in the heart, second row up. I’m amazed with the proximity of the stage. It is like a club. They weren’t messing. I’m 5’1” (even Bono’s taller at 5’6” and a half) and still I have the greatest view.
I’m 38 years old, and I’m jumping up and down and hooting like everybody else, when Sergeant Pepper segues into Elevation. Where IS the little bugger, I think, and then he’s there. Bono. So life like, it’s unreal. The designer-but-ordinary-looking leather jacket looks tatty. His skin is pink and flushed and very… Irish, he works like a horse and sweats like a pig.
He doesn’t do much for me, does Bono, and for a second there I wonder how I am I going to get my kicks tonight. But 10 minutes into the set it’s clear to me, it’s the vibe and the deafening noise and sheer exaltation. I lose myself completely. I’m watching them interact, watch them being a band. The Edge never takes his eyes off Bono, the lead guitarist follows his singer’s lead. Adam is obviously enjoying himself, he keeps grinning, he keeps looking at the madness in front of him, winking at fans, acknowledging them. And Larry? Is he having a good time or is he seriously pissed off being in one of the most succesful bands ever? We’ll never know.
Bono’s just being Bono, sucking up to us: ‘You’re louder than the Americans,’ reading his German off a piece of paper as usual. ‘Ich bin Koelner, wir sind alle Koelner.’ But tonight is less about posturing, less act and more energy. Not a sinner, not a saint, just a singer in a band.
Sometimes a gig is about the songs, about the moment. Other times it is about a merger between audience and band. Joint forces, a shared effort with mind blowing results. Tonight we sweat together, and if the guitar’s out of tune, or Bono out of key – we all laugh and shake it off (and hope Dallas Schoo gets to keep his job at the end of the day).
For the last couple of songs Bono basked in the wave of adulation directed at him, tripping on the audience’s energy. He is fluid, one with the song. A big drop of sweat falls from his hand as he goes to strum his guitar for ‘One’. In my hyper focussed state it seems to descend in slow motion.
‘You’re amazing,’ he says, ‘we will never forget these two nights in Cologne.’