360° Tour Review: Part 4 – South Africa and Latin America

Fifth Leg: South Africa

Going to the Johannesburg and Cape Town shows was tempting, but they were simply too soon after Australia, so I was not able to attend.  I couldn’t justify spending a heap of money after a month being in Australia, to have to travel almost 16,000 kilometers and see only two shows, and not have the available time to visit South Africa in depth as it deserved.  I was starting to teach a university course at that time and I needed to accrue more vacation time for my trip to Brazil in March.  Needless to say, I was still excited about the shows for our friends in South Africa and knew that it wouldn’t be long before I rejoined the tour.

By this time, my GA Guide started to gain a little more notoriety.  This was a consequence of all the questions fans had been Googling over the course of the tour and finding my site as a result.  Prior to the start of the 5th leg, I was contacted by Greg, a writer from South Africa, who found my GA guide and wanted to interview me to help the fans in his country understand what to expect in the queue.  In his article, “The Inner Workings of the U2 360 Inner Circle,” he had exposed my guide to a wider audience, helping de-mystify the queue experience.  It was good to read some responses, proving that his article was helpful.  As commented by Michelle, “So all this means that it’s no use paying top price for best tickets you still won’t get best view of show as cheapass ticket holders. I won’t bother buying high priced tickets anymore, clearly low tickets holders get the best. I wish should have known but hey it’s neva too late to learn new tricks.

The concerts had a slight, but effective change.  Instead of introducing the band with the Return of the Stingray Guitar, the crowd was treated to a funky remix of Get On Your Boots (featuring the Soweto Gospel Choir).  While this song was featured during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and was rather appropriate to be played in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  In Joh-berg, U2 invited legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela to perform with them during I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  Additionally, U2 commemorated Nelson Mandela’s 21st anniversary of his first public rally after being released from Robben Island’s prison with a video montage during Pride (In The Name Of Love).  It was around this time that the Arab Spring political phenomenon was starting to gather pace, particularly in the north African countries of Tunisia (18 Dec 2010), Algeria (28 Dec 2010), Egypt (25 Jan 2011), and Libya (17 Feb 2011) and the middle eastern countries of Syria (26 Jan 2011), Yemen (3 Feb 2011), and Bahrain (14 Feb 2011).  Referencing these social movements and protests, the video screen flickered images of Egypt and Tunisia during Sunday Bloody Sunday, adding to montages of Iran’s Green Revolution.

On a side note, it was announced around this time that renewed U2.com membership subscriptions would be rewarded with a “new” CD called U2 Duals that featured many of the duets U2 had performed with various artists such One with Mary J. Blige and The Wanderer with Johnny Cash.  Many U2 fans pointed out quite astutely that these songs were not in fact new but simply re-releases of previously recorded material available from current sources.  The argument ran that for the amount of money being paid for a membership, there was little value in the CD and also from the content found in the U2.com website.  Some felt that U2 fans sites had better content than that on U2.com.  Others were more caustic and accused U2’s management companies for ripping off fans.  Some solutions offered were a better fanclub CD similar to previous releases like Melon: Remixes for Propaganda, a free t-shirt like the U2 Go Home: Slane Castle sent out in 2008, and better online content offered through u2.com.  I’m not sure if this was a direct response to the flurry of criticism, but U2 announced that they would stream the Cape Town concert live for those who were u2.com members.  I was really pleased by this announcement, and felt U2 could do more of this (they continued to do so twice more on tour – Sao Paulo III and Montreal II).  I was able to record the stream and post it on my website for those who were unable to listen to the concert live.

It was an amazing show.  Dubbed the “Princess of Africa,” South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka performed I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and a full version of Stand By Me with U2.  Prior to City of Blinding Lights, I heard a low-level beat and chime that was hard to distinguish.  As it got louder, my spine tingled when I realized it was Fez – Being Born!  Sure, it was only a recorded version, but it was refreshing to hear something different.  I love Fez – Being Born because listening to it transports be back in time to the summer of 2008 when I visited Morocco.  The lyrics parallel that journey I took to get there from Tarifa, Spain to Tangiers, Morocco: “Bay of Cadiz and ferry home / Atlantic sea, cut glass / African sun at last.”  Soon after, the famous Zooropan line, “What do you want,” repeated before City of Blinding Lights changed the mood from confusion into exhilaration.  Hearing this line from Zooropa was rather prescient since it wouldn’t be too long before we heard this dystopian gem two months later in Sao Paulo.

Sixth Leg: Latin America – Sao Paulo (X3) and Mexico City (X3)

The decision to go to South America came to fruition after talking to my friend Jana (Sao Paulo) at the Perth, Australia shows.  However, the seed to go to the southern hemisphere was planted well before hand.  After the Vertigo Tour, I wanted to expand my U2 concert experiences beyond that of North America and Europe.  I was enthralled by the bootleg video of Buenos Aires and the crowd noise of Sao Paulo, especially their chanting prior to One.   The U23D movie was also captivating.  It was filmed in different locations – Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Melbourne (strangely enough).  Seeing the intense crowds in 3D on the IMAX screen was enough to capture my imagination and set out the goal of going to that part of the world.  After having seen U2 in Latin America, I can say without any hesitation, it was an unparallel and amazing concert experience, a must for any die-hard U2 fan.

Sao Paulo was supposed to be the last city on the 360° Tour, but because of Bono’s broken back and subsequent tour postponement, I arrived in Sao Paulo on April 9, 2011.  My friend Cathal and Jana’s brother Antonio picked me up at the airport.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to leave Edmonton’s cold and arrive in the urban heat of Brazil, let alone to be there to see U2!  I landed the day of the show – uncharacteristically late – but I had to finish teaching my university course before being available to travel.  I knew that people were already lining up a week ahead of time, and simply couldn’t get there any earlier.  I headed to Antonio’s loft to meet up with Martijn and get ready for that evening’s show at Estadio Morumbi.  The traffic can be maddening in Sao Paulo, but we got there around 1PM and was really happy to see Jana again (as I hadn’t seen her since Perth), and her friend Colleen from New Jersey but lives in Vermont now.  Colleen and I would later become good friends on the tour and I owe it all to the 10,000 kilometer journey to the south.

All three of us – Martijn, Jana, and Colleen – sought out Amp who was already at Estadio Morumbi and wanted to meet up with him.  I recognized Amp from several North American shows before.  I first saw Amp when he made it up on stage during a hilarious With Or Without You at Madison Square Gardens in New York during the Vertigo Tour.  Bono had grown frustrated at the first two women (two of the three “sisters”) who were unable to concentrate while on stage.  Bono then pulled up Amp near the end of With Or Without You, much to the crowd’s delight.  Although I recognized him, I didn’t really know him prior to Brazil.  With all of us together, notwithstanding Nick (San Francisco) who was camped out for a week in the queue with Brazilians, we were pretty much the international contingent of fans.  I didn’t see the regular faces I saw in Europe or North America.  It felt quite nice to be one of the few travelling fans in Brazil.

Martijn departed to meet up with Cathal in the seats, and it was Amp and I left out of the group to find our gate and queue for general admission.  When I say that Latin American U2 fans are passionate, you really need to see it to believe it.  By about 2PM there were three different lines for the GA, and each line had about 8,000 to 10,000 fans each!  Amp and I were astonished at how many people showed up at that time.  By the time we got to the end of our line, we knew very well that we’d be at the back enjoying the show near the soundboard.  When we got onto the large pitch, we found an open spot near the back along a median rail and parked ourselves on the floor for the wait before Muse came on.  We were still fairly exhausted from our long trips from North America that it was easy to nap on the floor while we waited for the opening act  – Muse – to come on.

I liked Muse before, but loved them after seeing their show live.  They had the stadium lights off for the performance, and good light show, and songs like Uprising, Resistance, Supermassive Black Hole, Uprising, and Knights of Cydonia were absolute stadium rockers.  I enjoyed their show whether I was at the back near the soundboard, or at when I was front row centre.  Muse had an energy about them that is infectious when in concert regardless of where you are in the stadium.  I was glad I had the privilege to have seen them on the U2360° Tour.

Before U2 came on, there was plenty of festive music being played over the PA system.  When it was nearing 9PM, the sound system’s level increased (prompting the eminent arrival of U2) and the samba music was pulsating wildly through the air.  Even though it did start to rain, that did not dampen anyone’s spirits.  Everyone around me started singing and dancing along and I couldn’t help but join in.  This was a scene you would not see in North America  (except Mexico City) – a stadium full of people hypnotically grooving along to their music just before an Irish band come up on stage.  Such a unique cultural experience was exactly why I wanted to travel to Latin America, to be able to see my favourite band in a completely different context.  Europe prepared me to be able to appreciate such differences.  Enjoying a U2 show in Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland, Spain, or Italy can contrast completely because of the crowd and cultural references made during the show.  Going to Brazil took this appreciation to a different level.

Although Amp and I were at the back near the soundboard, we still had a great time at the show.  We couldn’t believe we were actually there, and just enjoyed the moment.  We knew we had two more concerts in Brazil, so there was no pressure to feel that the first show had to be perfect.  Julian Lennon was in the crowd, and Bono led everyone to sing Happy Birthday to him.  In South America, Bono started the custom of bringing a girl on stage just before Beautiful Day to recite a poem in Spanish (or in Brazil’s case, recite in Portuguese).  That night, a fan was brought up and spoke some lines from a poem called ‘Carinhoso’.  When Bono carried this tradition forward at the started of North America, it didn’t have the same kind of romanticism or mystique when the girl(s) recite the poem in English.  I found it far more alluring when a Spanish or Portuguese poem was spoken just before Beautiful Day.  I loved hearing Fez-Being born being played just before City of Blinding Lights.  Although it was a recorded version, it was pleasant to be taken back to memories of my trip to Morocco in 2008 through that song.

Unsurprisingly, Bono dedicated Moment of Surrender to the recent victims of a school shooting in Rio de Janeiro.  It was a horrific event, but it was touching that U2 honoured their lives during the show, thereby creating a strong emotional bond with the fans by displaying the victims’ names on the screen while the song was being performed.  I couldn’t help but tear up.  School shootings and so tragic, especially when young children are killed, and should never happen.  Over time, I’ve come to find that U2 concerts can be a highly joyous or a very cathartic event.

After the show, I was prepared to find the line and make an attempt to get to the front rails for the second show.  While waiting for everyone else, Cathal and I were pretty famished and saw some street vendors selling BBQ meat.  It smelled rather appetizing, and considering our hunger, we decided to spring a few Reals on the BBQ.  When we bit into it, Cathal and I quizzed each other as to what the meat could be.  It didn’t taste like chicken, beef, or pork.  Was it the way they marinated the meat?  Was it the process of BBQing that masked the taste?  When Jana saw us eating the BBQ meat on the stick, she quickly asked us where we bought it.  We pointed to the smokey air in the distance, and she responded, “It’s probably cat.”  My stomach churned.  I needed something to drink.  Jana might have been joking, but she made a good point about the mystery meat.  Estadio Morumbi sat beside a big slum in Sao Paulo.  These were people without a lot of money selling meat on an open grill.  Buying fresh chicken, beef, or pork might be expensive.  I saw a few cats around Estadio Morumbi, but not a lot.  I’d consider myself a foodie and cosmopolitan diner, but this was something new to me.

By the time we met up with Jana, Colleen, Martijn, and Cathal, it was pouring heavy rain.  Although I had my survival bag to try to stay dry, no one else was up to camping out that night.  Plus, it was hard to figure where the lines started and ended through the mist of the rain.  Other Brazilian fans had tents pitched, and I was in no way prepared for such torrential rainfall.  In the end, we caught a cab back to Vila Madalena – the bohemian neighbourhood where Jana and Antonio had their lofts and where we stayed.  We decided to get some beer and pizza before a much needed rest.  We would repeat what we did that first night, of just coming mid day and enjoy the show at the back.

For the second show, we were able to score “VIP” platform wristbands in order to enjoy the show on a raised platform at the back in order to have an unobstructed view of the stage.  Don’t ask me how we got them, some secrets are better off left not said.  When I thought the first show was outstanding, the second night was truly a real gem. With that evening’s show, the 360° Tour became the highest-grossing tour of all-time, surpassing the $558 million that the Rolling Stones’ ‘A Bigger Bang’ tour garnished between 2005 and 2007.   I felt privileged to be a part of that historical moment for the band.

The festive atmosphere was still in the air, and we were dancing along just before the guitar strums of Space Oddity played.  The other ‘VIP’ people around us were not as enthusiastic as us, but that was understandable.  They had no idea to what lengths we had gone through to see U2.  Regardless, I was happy to be with Jana, Colleen, Martijn, and Amp for the show.  There were two treats to this show.  The first was hearing Out of Control. Out of Control had not been played the closing show of the Vertigo Tour in Honolulu – December 4, 2006.  It was a real riot to hear that old song played right after Even Better Than The Real Thing.  We knew things were going to go off that night.

Another major treat, and to my surprise, was the appearance of Zooropa!  U2 had sound checked it several times, but similar to previous teasers like Drowning Man, I remained skeptical whether they’d play it or not.  While the screen was going down after Miss Sarajevo, my ears focused in on the opening chords to hear what was to be played.  Was it going to be Fez – Being Born?  No.  Faintly hearing the electronica-cyberpunk echoes of Edge’s 1968 Gretsch Country Gent and use of his SuperTron pickup, the song immediately registered as the much-in-demand and elusive 1993 track – Zooropa.  We didn’t need any alcohol, but we were drunk over Zooropa’s re-emergence as the chords and lyrics washed us over.  It had only been played three times before – August 8, 1993 (Glasgow), August 11 and 12, 1993 (London).  Apparently ‘Zooropa’ trended on Twitter that night – an indication of the global following U2 has and how much we were salivating after knowing U2 dusted off this beautiful song and called us to “Dream out loud…” I was in heaven.  As the show closed, Moment of Surrender was dedicated once again to the children who were murdered in Rio de Janeiro just a few days earlier.  We walked away from the show elated at what we witnessed.  It was my 21st show of the 360° Tour, but I still remained in awe at the spectacle and quality of performance.  Inspired for the third and last show in Brazil, I was geared up to get back to my spiritual home of a U2 concert – front-row-centre.

If you haven’t been to a show in Latin America, the first thing you’ll notice is that fans will queue up for more than a week.  It’s expected and part of the norm.  My friend Nick had got to Sao Paulo much earlier than I did and was able to get to the line early and make it to the front.  Considering the odds, waiting for the third night was far more time-effective to get to the rails.  After the second show, we had three days to get ready for the third and last concert.  Amp and I decided on resting the next day to recharge and prepare for a two-night stay in the queue.  I had my survival bag with me to keep me dry from the elements.  We were able to step away from the queue to grab food and coffee.  During those two days, the rain was relentless, and we sheltered ourselves in the Starbucks that was about a 10- minute walk away from the Stadium.

At the time, I had no idea the third Sao Paulo show would be an epic one.  Despite lining up for two nights, I still didn’t have a GA ticket.  I walked down the queues with a sign in Portuguese asking for help with a ticket, but only the scalpers were willing to sell to me at double the face value.  The morning of the show, Martijn got a call from our friend Flavia (Argentina) who said she ran into Dallas Schoo and was happy to give her and a guest a tour of the “underground” part of the stage and tickets in the Red Zone.  Martijn presumed the guest invite was for him, and was willing to give me his GA ticket since he didn’t need it.  It was about noon, and I was relieved I had a ticket.  I was number 46 at my gate (there were two other gates for the GA).  Jana and Colleen were able to get into the pit earlier and were planning on meeting us there if everything goes well.

At about 3PM, the gates opened up, and I quickly made my way through security and the ticket scan.  We then had to run the entire length of the stadium hallway to the back of the field (by that time, I passed all 45 people in front of me), and then run the gauntlet of barricades to get into the pit.   I made it in first among all the people lined up at the three gates and loved seeing the surprised faces of Jana and Colleen who were amazed I was first in at a Brazil show – notorious for its crazy GA entry.  We saved a spot for Amp and all four of us occupied our favoured front-row- centre – mission accomplished.  While waiting for Muse to come on, we noticed some people on stage.  At first it was Dallas, and then around the corner, Flavia and Martijn came out and waved ecstatically at us!  We were so happy everything worked out for them – for all of us really.  The concert hadn’t even started, but we were already having a great time.

We were informed on Twitter and from others that that evening’s show was going to be broadcast live for members of U2.com.  I was happy that a good recording would be available for that concert.  One of my favourite moments was seeing legendary Samba singer Seu Jorge play Kraftwerk’s Das Model with Bono and the Edge.  It made the 60,000+ Estadio Morumbi feel like a club.  We sang along and drifted into its groovy hypnotic strums.

Prior to Beautiful Day, Bono brought up Jana to recite Beautiful Day in Portuguese.  It was touching to see one of our friends up there again and add to the magic of the show.  After Miss Sarajevo, we were hoping and anticipating that Zooropa would not be a one-off and were delighted to hear the opening chords to this dystopian song of the future.  Half the time, I closed my eyes as I danced and sung to Zooropa, a real pleasure to hear and see live up close.  Because the screen covers have the band, and the spotlights off, you can only see the band when you are near the front.  Seeing Bono swing to the beats and the rest of the band entranced to the music makes being up front worthwhile. Up to this point, Zooropa had only been played five times in live concert history.  Since Brazil, Zooropa had become my favourite song on the entire tour.

I look back at the Sao Paulo shows with extreme fondness.  The friends I was with in Brazil had positive things to say about their experiences in Chile and Argentina.  Without a shadow of a doubt, I will make it my mission to see U2 in those countries on the next tour to complete my South American experience.  In lieu of that, I was happy to extend my Latin American journey to Mexico City, Mexico.

Having learned my lesson in Brazil, I decided on getting into Mexico City early enough to account for the long queues.  I flew in to the capital on May 7, five nights before the first show in Estadio Azteca – the biggest venue on the tour that holds approximately 111,000 fans per show.  I met with my friend Pat (Arkansas) the night I flew in.  We had a quick dinner and decided we needed to make our way to the stadium to being lining up.  Knowing I’d be there for a few days, I packed with me more than a survival bag.  I had a tent and inflatable mattress to prepare for the long wait.  By the time we got there, we were number 293 and 294 in the queue.  Those at the front arrived ten days before the show.  The security was tight, and I was pleased it was.   Before entering the stadium grounds, you needed to have your ticket scanned, assigned a numbered wristband by security, have your ticket numbered according to the number on your wristband, and go through a bag check.  I felt safe behind the stadium gates with security looking after us.  We were able to leave for an afternoon or evening to get food or do sightseeing, but had to go through a ticket scan upon exit.  We made a lot of friends in line, one of whom, Jorge (San Fran), Fer (Mexico City), and Drew (Philly), I had later become close with further on in the North American leg.  Amp also made it in for the first show.  The Mexican fans were a lot of fun to hang out with, and made my stay enjoyable.  It was hot and hazy, but the company made the queue worthwhile.

Contrary to my visions of a wild run into the venue, we were split up into groups of one hundred escorted into the pit by security.  I can see why the venue wanted to avoid a stampede.  The long 300-meter corridor tunnel onto the pitch was at about a 30-degree angle.  Any trips or falls in a stampede could lead to some serious injuries.  Nevertheless, it was still fun to walk down the hall, chanting, “Ole, ole, ole, ole… U2… U2…” Luckily for our group, we made it to the rails far side in front of The Edge.  Snow Patrol was the opening act for Mexico City.  It was a spine-tingling experience to walk down the halls of Azteca, seeing all the crests of teams that played there in the past, and sing at full blast along with the Mexican fans.

I hadn’t seen Snow Patrol open for U2 since the Chicago shows in 2009 and was happy to see them live again.  They rank up there for me insofar as U2 opening acts go because of their energy, attempts to get the crowd involved, and stadium rocking songs like Run, Chasing Cars, and Open Your Eyes. Gary Lightbody was a Manchester United fan, and celebrated their EPL title win by wearing a Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez Mexican national team jersey.  Chicharito played for Club Deportivo Guadalajara (aka Chivas) in the Primera División de México before moving on to Manchester United.  Wearing Chicharito’s jersey clearly won the crowd over.

Prior to U2 coming in stage, the stadium erupted when the PA system started playing the Mariachi song Cielito Lindo. Similar to Brazil, everyone started to sing and dance to the song, adding to the local Mexican flavour of a U2 concert.  I have to stress, being in this kind of festive environment is like nothing else I had experienced outside of Latin America. Added by the fact the food being sold on the floor by vendors was really inexpensive and tasty – such as soups, soft tacos, and fresh fruit with chili pepper.  Moreover, the crowd in Mexico City (with the aid of the largest venue on tour) is the loudest in the world.  Cathal, who had seen over 80 shows in every city on this tour and usually sits in the cheap seats, can attest that the Mexican fans scream at lung-bursting levels for the entire duration of the show and are in deed the loudest on tour.  For these reasons alone, I’d be happy to go back to Mexico to be a part of this celebratory, collective mood.

The energy was electrifying amongst the crowd when U2 came out on stage.  The familiar songs of Even Better Than The Real Thing, I Will Follow, and Get On Your Boots opened the show.   What followed was a slight change that I really liked.  Bono began by repeatedly chanting, “Uh oh oh…” Then a trance-like intro to Magnificent shimmered with the voice of Desmond Tutu reflecting on the interconnectedness of the human spirit, “None of us can be human by ourselves.  I cannot believe without you.  But you cannot be you without me.  I know you can understand this.” For us die-hards, the smallest alteration in a set list was always welcomed because it introduced some variance, something unknown.  The visual to Magnificent changed too, starting with a rotating globe showing what appears t be flight patterns between cities and a ghostly image o Desmond Tutu.  It really struck a deep chord within me because it reminded me of the wide range of travels I had undertaken over the past few years as a matter of self-discovery.  I cannot be who I am today without those I encountered on my journeys.

Since it was just Bono’s 51st birthday two days prior, the crowd spontaneously sang Happy Birthday just before I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  Edge continued to lead the crowd in the celebration. Prior to Beautiful Day, Bono once again invited a female fan to recite a poem.  For the first night, a poem by Mexican writer Nezahualcoyotl was read aloud, which added to the anticipation of this popular song.  Keeping to their political advocacy and messaging during a show, Bono referred to the hypocrisy of United States media and governments for continually talking about the drug problems associated with Mexico but conveniently failing to mention the number of guns illegally smuggled from the US that has fueled the bloodshed in Mexico.  Such harsh criticism of the US never appears, obviously, when U2 tour the States, but does find a receptive audience south of the border.

After the show, we were told by security that we were not able to camp out and had to return Friday night if we wanted to begin queuing up for the Saturday concert.  With that said, we returned to the hotel for much needed rest.  Brad (San Fran) arrived Friday morning to meet up with us for the last two shows in Mexico City.  Pat, Jorge, and myself linked up with Brad around noon Friday.  Despite the calls from stadium security that we weren’t supposed to come to the venue until the evening, there were already hundreds of people queued up for the Saturday show.  I ended up being number 463 in line and we were let onto the stadium grounds to pitch our tents and prepare for a day in the searing sun.  Although I knew Brad from a few shows before on this tour, I didn’t get to really know him until Mexico City and since then, we’ve become good friends.  We shared a lot of traveling commonalities and had the same backpacker mentality.  I thought I was the ultimate minimalist when it came to the line, but Brad takes the prize.  He only brought with him a small school bag with a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and his tickets.  He made due with sleeping on the ground.  I was impressed.  Early next morning, Pat and Jorge took all our belongings back to the hotel and I just kept with me my tickets and a survival bag to sleep in later that night.

Considering the fact that we were in the 400s in the line, we were content on watching the show front-row-centre outside rails.  It was my first time out there on this tour, and wasn’t a bad spot to watch the concert.  There were a few treats that evening.  Out of Control was played for only the second time on this tour – having last heard it in Sao Paulo.  Desire made its ninth appearance on tour.  The last time I heard it was the last show in 2010 in Perth on December 19.  It’s a great stadium song to play, particularly in Azteca with 111,000 people chanting “Desire… Desire… Desire…” It reminded me of being back at the very first show of 360° in Barcelona with the same kind of spine-tingling sing-along to this Rattle and Hum classic.  We were also treated to Stay (Faraway, So Close!), which up until that point, was only played a handful of times and was last played on September 24, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Of course, Stay had since become a regular on the set list of for the remainder of the North American leg.  Observing the show along the front of the outer rails can be a real positive experience because you get to see the full spectacle of the screen and light show.  As well you get to see the band up close, and can be a lot of fun during I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.

After the concert, Pat and Jorge were too tired to line up again, so it was just Brad and I remaining from the group.  We ended up being numbers 70 and 71 in line.  I didn’t have my tent, but at least I had my survival bag to sleep in and keep myself dry from the drizzle.  Brad, the minimalist that he was, searched throughout the stadium grounds to find material to use for sleep.  He found a cardboard box and some plastic bags to cover him and keep dry.  We found our stash of granola bars and Gatorade to feed us for the day.  We had our provisions in plastic bag and hid it under the concrete mural blocks.  The Mexicans thought it was amusing, but we were happy we had something to consume after the concert and for the last day in line.  The next morning, we were aching from the rough sleep and had to endure another twelve hours in the hot sun.  We had no time to go back to the hotel to shower, change, and get proper food like we normally would at other concerts.  We just had to push on through.  I have to confess, those back-to-back concerts for Mexico City (without leaving the line at all) was the toughest queue in my life.  Brad concurred, and he’s a GA veteran too.  I’m glad I went through the Mexican queue experience because it made me stronger and realize the luxuries Europeans and North Americans have insofar as being to leave the line to get food and to refresh.  In Mexico, it was a tale of personal perseverance.

In the end, the sacrifice paid off.  We ended up being front-row-centre.  Although security walked us to the pit entrance, we ran like mad inside the pit to get to the front.  It was a good thing we did because the third show was special.  We got New Year’s Day, which set the crowd on fire.  We then got a full version of All I Want Is You, which had only been played twice earlier on tour, and then Love Rescue Me.  I was lucky to have heard Love Rescue Me on the 360° Tour in Sydney and Perth, and listened to it for the third time in Mexico City.  It’s rarities like these that make seeing multiple shows worthwhile.  During Vertigo, much to my surprise, a female fan actually made it up on stage running and almost grabbed a hold of Bono.  This was the first time I had seen such an incident in all my U2 travels, but security were remarkably fast in intercepting her before getting Bono.  It all happened so quickly.  Prior to Where the Streets Have No Name, Bono sung a bit of Radiohead’s High and Dry – one of my favourite songs by this alternative rock band.

At the end of the show, Brad and I were highly satisfied with our endurance and the quality of the show, but we were absolutely knackered.  We met up with Cathal and got some food at La Casa de Toño.  We said goodbye to Cathal afterward, went back to the hotel to link up with Pat and Jorge (they looked well rested after skipping the third Mexico City show), got ready and left for the airport for our early morning flights.  There was no rest for the meek.  I caught up on a little bit of sleep on the plane and eventually made it back to my home in Edmonton and then went straight to work.  It was a whirlwind trip, but seeing U2 in Latin America fundamentally altered my perception, expectation, and endurance in a queue.  After doing a week in the Mexican lines, the one to two day queues in the USA and Canada seemed peanuts in comparison.  The U2 tour was entering its final phase of the tour, and in a strange way, I was looking forward to it ending.  Since 2009 and up until Mexico City, I had seen 25 shows on four different continents on the 360° Tour, with another eight concerts to see in the US and Canada.  I needed closure and enter a different phase in my life.  The Vertigo Tour marked the days of my Masters degree, and the 360° Tour delineates the tail end of my PhD life.  It was time to move on.  The last hurrah was just around the corner.

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I will complete this series with U2 360° Tour Review: Part 5 – North America in my next blog posting.

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