Thursday, November 15, 2012

No. 567 – The Electric Co.

Performer: U2
Songwriters: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Original Release: Boy
Year: 1980
Definitive Version: Under a Blood Red Sky, 1983

Soon after I moved to Chicago in September 2005, Laurie surprised me with tickets to see U2 as a welcome-to-Chicago present. It made sense: Achtung Baby had been one of the tapes on heavy rotation during my visits to see her over the past year, and City of Blinding Light was a big song during a key moment in our courtship. (Story to come … SPOILER ALERT)

So, Laurie loved U2; I loved U2; and they were an important band in our relationship. Why not go? Laurie got the tickets via the secondary (read: scalper) market. I think she got them through StubHub, and she paid a ton for them, as she reminded me several times before, during and certainly after the show.

This was important, because she really didn’t like the show. I couldn’t necessarily disagree. It started strong, with City of Blinding Light and Vertigo the first two songs. But by midway through, the show stopped being about the music and became more about the message—and specifically Bono.

It was one slow and Meaningful song after another: Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride and of course the inevitable One, which has to be in the running for the most misunderstood rock song of all time. (You played a song about the breakup of The Edge’s marriage at your wedding? Really?)

I get that those songs are an important part of U2, but give me more stuff that rocks, like The Electric Co., which they in fact did early. It was the shocker pull-out of the night as far as I was concerned—I think I was the only one in our section going nuts as The Edge launched into this song.

And that was another—and far more significant—problem as far as Laurie was concerned. We were sitting in Chotch Central. Every frat fanboy around us knew all the words to the most Meaningful of songs and sang them all—badly. As Laurie put it: I paid a lot of money to hear BONO sing these songs, not these idiots.

In all honesty, I was surprised they even knew any words considering that their musical butchery was succeeded only by their penchant for going out to get a beer every other song and then hoisting it in yet another toast to BON-OOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! (Yeah, OK, YOU I can see playing One at your wedding, but still …)

The whole thing was a bit of a turn-off, and when U2 came back through town a few years ago, Laurie had a two-word response when I asked whether she wanted to see them again: Hell no.

Well, it could have been worse, I figured. It could have been Coldplay, the real band of the chotch crowd, but there I go again getting ahead of myself.

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