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U2 Beautiful Day, Toronto 2011

I had wanted to see U2 for a long time. Then, when I finally got tickets, the concert was postponed for almost 2 years because Bono injured his back. When the day finally arrived I don't think I was that revved up to go. The show was at the Rogers Center and we had to pick up one of my son's friends in Mississauga on the way in. The traffic was horrendous. "The traffic is stuck and we're not moving anywhere". It took over 2 hours to get there and finally parked.

The only thing I had read about the concert, over a year earlier, was that it was a gigantic expensive stage production. The opening act Interpol, was dwarfed by the massive U2 set above and around them. It did not seem possible for a band to compete with the size of the alien structure on stage.

When U2 finally took the stage to the sound of Bowie's Space Oddity, "ground control to major Tom....", they did manage to rise up and deliver a spectacle that took over the stage, the entire Rogers Center, and at one transcendent point, the visible universe as well.

That point came as Bono talked about Senator Gabrielle Giffords, who had been shot in Texas earlier in the year.

As he continued to talk about political situations around the world, he noted that Gifford's husband Commander Mark Kelly was currently up in the International Space Station, and asked, "what would he have to say....what words would he have on his mind"? Following a moment of static on the giant video monitor, the astronaut appeared on screen drifting weightless in the space station, floating the letters "It's a Beautiful Day". He then replied to Bono "tell my wife I love her very much...she knows", with the band breaking into their big song. Kelly's line was of course from Bowie's "Space Oddity",

At this point my mind was bending. The roof of the stadium was open to the stars and the Moon was shining. How is this possible? It was an astonishing moment that left me teary eyed and wondering how they could have pulled this off. Later in the song Kelly joined in with a spoken word version of the chorus of the song, "see the world in green and blue..." The song wrapped up with U2 drifting into a few bars from "Space Oddity". It was an amazing orchestated piece of theater.

Here is a video I took that hopefully captures a sense of the moment.

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