Lenny Kravitz: Proceed to Floor

Celebrities are so lucky. Not only do they have fame and fortune, they have luck too. Well, most of them have luck.

For U2’s second sold-out show at the Garden this November, a large number of celebrities scanned in Lucky Vertigo and packed the ellipse. Our non-celebrity staff (she’s a star to us!), who was also lucky and landed a spot in the ellipse, identified Lars Ullrich, Michael Stipe, Helena Christensen, Jimmy Fallon, Guggi, and Charlie Rose enjoying the show from inside the ellipse. (For the record, Rose doesn’t rock out. He studies the performance. With a beer in hand.) Bono’s wife Ali and brother Norman were also spotted rubbing shoulders with the celebrities and peon fans at the show.

Meanwhile, back at the mix desk were Lenny Kravitz, Josh Brolin, and “a lot of models” whose tickets apparently did not scan Lucky Vertigo. Awww!

The show was similar to the previous evening’s performance with one difference — the dedications. Bono dedicated “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” to his brother, whom he referred to as “Normal” and credited as being the co-writer of the song; “MLK” was dedicated to JFK; and “Stuck in a Moment” was performed in recognition of the anniversary of Michael Hutchence’s death.

As with the previous night, show opener Patti Smith joined U2 to perform a long version of “Instant Karma.” At one point, Bono and Smith left the stage as The Edge began a spotlight guitar performance. It seemed the audience were expected to finish up the song with The Edge, but when that didn’t happen, Edge left the stage (still playing) and returned with the singers to close the song.

Although “Yahweh” and “40” were listed on the setlist, they were not performed.

Paris II: Pathos and Confidence

That's how late I arrived

If Paris I was confident like French girls are according to Bono, then perhaps Paris II was a great lover, like French men are (allegedly): aggressive, emotional and a little rough around the edges.

Bono seemed in a theatrical mood – singing flat on his back on the edge of the stage very early on in the show. Did we spot a little limp, was the back acting up? Who knows. Lots of things were going on on stage. Quick discussions with crew members, an ‘ok’ from The Edge for Bono to sing Happy Birthday/Bonne Anniversaire to his god daughter Holly, turning 21 that day.

This night was special from its playful ‘Unos, dos, tres, Louis Quatorze’ start. I felt it even outside of the front pit, having arrived very late for the show. Even if with my 5’1” I couldn’t see a damn thing on the stage. Even if the crowd weren’t ‘singers’ as much as the night before. Even if the band dropped notes left and right. Even if Bono got so carried away at times he forgot which verse was next. But things really spun into orbit with ‘Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.’

As Bono walked along the catwalk, taking off his trademark specs to sing nakedly of filial angst, something in his face betrayed tonight meant just that little more. And I remembered there was a story, of Hewson Jr and Sr, out on the town in Paris. I imagined he must be thinking of it now.

The song continued, twisting towards its conclusion. Here comes ‘No regrets’, I thought, but Bono starts telling the story I was thinking of. Am I dreaming this? He talks about his father, the Dub who liked the opera. ‘And now I’m living it.’ He recounts the time his father drank him under the table in Paris, then put him to bed like a little boy. ‘And as I fell asleep, I listened to him sing the opera.’

Then he started singing with measured pathos: “E tu dice: “Io parto, addio!”, T’alluntane da stu core…, Da la terra de ll’ammore, tiene ‘o core ‘e nun turná?!” And my head exploded because not too long ago, on the West coast of Ireland, I heard that other Irishman sing the exact same song: ‘Return to Sorrento’.

That’s it right there for me. Top it off with a prolonged ‘Amazing Grace’ after Running to Standstill and Paris II moves into the coveted ‘best gig on the tour’-spot, slithering past Dublin II, and maybe even Dublin III in terms of raw emotion.

When things go off like that, the ubiquity of Pride and Sunday Bloody Sunday (bizarrely, sung for French football legend Zinedine Zindane), With or Without You and the simply unforgivable double whammy of Vertigo really doesn’t matter one iota. ‘Live is where we live,’ say the members of U2. And what a great life it is.