Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Walking out of the U2 concert last Saturday night at San Jose's HP Pavilion, my friend turned to me and said "now I won't have to go to church tomorrow." We'd just participated in a 20,000 strong worship service dedicated to eliminating world suffering, conducted by a leather-jacket clad Bono, and delivered at 200 decibels.
And the preaching was oddly tolerable, and the vibe was surprisingly multi-denominational. I didn't even cringe when he recited the U.N. charter on Human Rights, nor when he mimicked an Abu Ghraib prisoner in a blindfold. He asked us to text-message his website for ending world poverty, and his name-dropping of the Pope, Mandela, and Bush didn't seem forced or overly self-aggrandizing. He even complimented the U.S. military's courage after a generic anti-war song that featured a video backdrop of a B-2 bomber. He ended one sermon on Africa by saying he didn't want our money but wanted our attention, and he ended the concert with a song about the 40th Psalm.
So what does all this mean? For starters, Bono can fill the shoes of his own messianic complex. His singing is almost a distraction to his larger goals. Secondly, a good rock show can melt the crusty cynicism of a 40-something foreign policy hawk and convert him, if only for two hours, into a mushy one-worlder. The Realist needs a dose of Idealism to keep from being buried by the world's imperfections.
Thirdly, and most importantly, my 15-year old daughter was on her feet the whole show and thinks he's the bomb.