Saturday, October 31, 2009

The U2 Gospel

Fresh from the concert I feel to give you some impressions that are sticking with me. I noticed in this morning’s papers that the critics had already put in their two cents worth, most of it positive. One went as far as to say that they surpassed the Rolling Stones in their Vancouver performance.

First of all I really enjoyed the concert. I’ll agree with some of the other critics that the sound in BC Place is far from perfect. But it was an experience charged with human emotion and sound. Having experienced an event in the old Kingdome in Seattle, I knew that the shared “crowd” effect was something to behold and be a part of.

Knowing most of the songs made it that much more enjoyable. I enjoy the role of critic (not a good thing when trying to sit down and watch a movie together with your wife). I would listen for variations between their performance and their albums. Some changes were good, some, just different. I noticed “lepers in your head” became “lepers in your bed”. I noted the songs where Bono had to carefully navigate the high notes instead of sounding flat or worse.

What I really wanted to see first hand though, was what they believed and how they conveyed it. The risk involved is that a person may read more into it than is actually intended. I’ve been amazed by the lyrics of a number of the songs which seemingly having several meanings and speculating which one they really want to convey. Some seem more obvious – case-in-point…”I was born to sing for you, I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up and sing whatever song you wanted me to. I give you back my voice, from the womb, my first cry, it was a joyful noise…. Only love, only love can leave such a mark…can heal such a scar. Justified till we die, you and I will magnify…The Magnificent”. The other thought I have are those around me who are belting out the lyrics and wondering what thoughts might be occurring as they are sung. Near the end of the concert, Bono belts out the first verse of Amazing Grace with minimal accompaniment and as he clearly sings “I was blind, but now I see…”, the Edge begins the now legendary guitar intro to “Where the Streets have no Name” and so it goes. The crowd joins in on every word, some oblivious to the place that has streets without any names, Christians who knowingly join in, knowing of the place while others who know that he is singing about heaven but don’t really care because it just sounds so good.

I know that Bono has several worthwhile causes which he clearly is not afraid to declare. I’m sure he will always have his share of critics especially from the evangelical Christian perspective. It seems to me that he is willing to do more than just be a commercial success. I’m sure he has made many mistakes along the way. But there is something about what he is doing, what he is saying and who he is saying it to that may just have some traction in the kingdom of God.