Gallagher is trying to be funny and reinforcing his typecast playfully by pronouncing the city A-delaide and Adel-aide and saying “what the f*%!@ are we doin’ down here?” We hear both a notable uneasiness and knowing giggle from the third full stadium crowd.
The former Oasis lead singer is playing support act to U2 down under with his ‘High Flying Birds’.
Oasis were pretty big a while back and people are keen to hear some of their songs, so Noel says, ‘Any Oasis fans here?’ A show of hands demonstrates a lot of people on the field are indeed fans. ‘Yeah…not bad…you love that s*^# don’t you!? Here’s a one for you’, and then he plays another high-flying bird number just to tease them.
Eventually we do get two big tracks from him, ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, which are really well received by the crowd.
Waiting for Bono
Before the show we stand with about 100 fans at the loading dock entry ramp to the Adelaide Oval as U2 pull up and pop out of their black vans and do a quick ‘meet and greet’. There’s a guy with a tattooed thigh, showing off his artwork of Bono from the Rattle and Hum cover art, revealing a little bit too much info in the groin area. Not sure if that will draw them over to him or drive them further away!
Bono is in the first van and unfortunately that means he alights ahead of us and doesn’t come back to our end of the line. But right in front of me a door slides open and out pops Edge. There’s a hint of pained familiarity as he shakes my hand (kidding!). Adam follows from the vehicle behind, but no sign of drummer, Larry, who rarely does these sorts of things. Oh well, maybe Sydney?
An interview with channel 7 doesn’t go to air, but I did my best. The interviewer did say I looked a bit young (really?) and he may not have been joking as my wife and I felt a little young once we got in among the Adelaide crowd. It’s what the Joshua Tree brings out, guys! Fans stuck in a moment, let me tell you. Thankfully, U2’s third act breaks the notion that this is only about old music, with at least 2 tracks from their two most recent albums, Innocence and Experience.
Join me at the Adelaide sound desk
Tonight, we’re standing in front of the sound desk, still close to the B-stage but far enough back to feel the full force of U2’s sound and vision from the gigantic video screen that almost touches the top reaches of the nose-bleed seats in the stadium.
I don’t think this show has been a sell out, as it looks like they’ve shrunk the stadium cleverly by moving the screen forward on the field. We can see Joe O’Herlihy, the longtime sound guy for the band since the 1970’s and are joined by a couple of folks we met at the Melbourne gig but who also live in Adelaide.
What happens in this spot is I get completely immersed and mesmerized by the sound and sight, the show. Closer up, behind Larry in Melbourne, I was immersed in the band and their performance. But tonight, it’s all screen and sound and it really packs a punch.
What also happens is I start seeing the relevance and the beauty of this anniversary concert tour for the Joshua Tree for the first time. Perhaps I’m a slow learner, or just stuck in my own moment of wanting to hear the latest two albums!
I can see, thankfully, it’s not just about nostalgia. It’s not just about waving to fans who got stuck and never moved on from the Joshua Tree. Many of the 11 songs from the Joshua Tree album of 1987 have a prophetic resonance with our world today. More on this next time, but for now I’m letting the Joshua Tree work on me.
Hands that Build
The contrast between Noel Gallagher and U2 (who are fans of Noel’s) couldn’t be bigger.
Bono pauses in ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ to say ‘thank you for your patience’ (it has been 9 years since they were hear last) ‘right now, for U2, there is no other place we’d rather be, thank you Adelaide, thank you Australia’.
Where Noel’s style and humour tends to put down and fracture the audience, U2 lifts up Adelaide, calling on them to hold the band up and asking with some wry humour, ‘is it so wrong that we need you more than you need us’ in ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’.
Take Us to Church, Bono
This unifying and ‘community uplifting’ from Bono and the band is quite a thing to behold.
As my mate Pete says to me, Bono is like the ultimate worship leader, finding commonality across demographic, race, sex and setting our minds above, surrendering.
Ok, we surrender to the music, we enjoy a great night of rock ‘n’ roll, but you never leave angry from a U2 concert and it does point you in a better direction as a human being. It’s not preachy in the sense of church, but there is a very real spiritual element going on between the band, between the audience and band…none more so evident than in the concert’s final song, One.
ONE – the sermon
The night closed with “One” and a call to work together, worldwide to combat climate change and the meet the UN’s sustainability goals. I've often thought that even if you're not convinced about climate change science, there surely is enough evidence in front of our eyes to say that we are seriously wasteful, desperately living in unsustainable ways and that we do need to work together to change this.
As Christians we do believe in science; we do believe in evidence. Yes, surprise, surprise folks but we do.
Take the ultimate lynch pin of our faith, the resurrection. We rely on the physical evidence of Jesus appearances, raised from the dead. Consequently, we also should pay attention when science tells us we need to change our habits or face the environmental consequences.
But the song ‘One’ at the end of the concert is more than just a final poke at another enormous issue that affects both us and those in extreme poverty.
It’s where the concert has been aiming all along.
Unity in diversity.
It’s Bono leading us in a confession.
The band pares back their sound, Bono stops singing and with the lights off and the stadium filled with thousands of mobile phone lights, we hear each other sing:
‘we’re one but we’re not the same
We hurt each other and we do it again
You say love is a temple,
Love the higher law’
Who would have thought that you would come to a rock concert for confession?
The song reminds us that we are meant to look out for each other, despite our differences.
‘we get to carry each other, carry each other, One’
We can hear the echo of the New Testament’s command to ‘carry each other’s burdens, just as Christ Jesus carried ours’ and ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.
We can give, because God first gave to us.
In fact, as I’ve said before, the band express a deep thankfulness and you can’t miss their music’s encouragement for us to appreciate one another. It’s not lazy or typical stars saying “we love you so much’ but a sincere appreciation of what the U2 ‘family’ is.
If you’re finding this all a bit much, then I’ll leave you with a T-shirt I saw on the back of a fan who was waiting for the band to hop out and do the ‘meet and greet’ before they disappeared into the bowls of the Adelaide Oval, on Tuesday it read:
‘It’s a U2 thing, You Wouldn’t Understand’