Living it Up, 360 Style

Picking up where I left off yesterday – let’s talk space ships!

After securing our U2 tickets in 2009 for the Montreal shows, my sistah (SJ) insisted that I send her tickets to Toronto, via Canada Post. I was hesitant to do this because we were talking about U2 tickets here – what if they mysteriously went AWOL? Well as luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened. When I mailed them out, I wrote down the wrong door number – one that was non-existent. Clearly my dyslexia was acting up when I wrote out the address, but regardless, Canada Post is responsible for delivering mail to addresses that actually exist – not the next best thing. Instead, for reasons that still boggle my mind, the mailman delivered  the tickets to the nearest door number (can you say DUH?), and what ensued was a month of back and forth with CP, on the whereabouts of those damn tickets. Not that we were STRESSED OUT or anything! When SJ left a note in the mail room, asking if anyone had mistakenly received an envelope meant for her, a neighbor responded: he/she had popped the package back in the mail – I was immediately suspicious of this. Of course, the tickets never showed up, and we were refunded by CP. Luckily, we were able to get the tickets reprinted. Twice.

Fast forward to 2011, one week before the show; SJ asks N if she has her ticket for July 8th. N tells SJ that I have it. SJ asks me to confirm. I tell her that I don’t have it – that I sent her a reprinted ticket for the 9th and that N has the one for the 8th. Dear Lord, here we go again. N insisted that she didn’t have an extra ticket for the 8th and I insisted that the only extra damn ticket I had, was for the 9th. I asked SJ to check the date on the ticket that she DID have, and she confirmed that it was for the 9th . Long story short: N had the ticket for the 8th reprinted AGAIN – only to realize that she’d had the original reprinted ticket all along. Not that we panicked or anything. Moving along….

On July 7th, various friends began converging upon Montreal via plane, train and speeding automobiles, from the US and Canada (U2ing is serious business people). That day, I was bombarded with text messages, emails, Facebook messages and BBMs about the line-up shituation, and I reached the point where I wanted to gently lie my BlackBerry on the ground then jump up and down on it. Unfortunately,  I had to work that day, so wasn’t able to go to the venue until that evening. Rumor had it that U2 fans had been lining up since the night of the 6th so I was stressing out about how long the line would be when we finally got there.  After picking up the girls, we finally headed to the Hippodrome to get our numbers. Disaster.  I was #253! My golden rule was broken – I was way past the #150 mark! Of course, when I later considered that 80,000 people would be attending the show, I decided that #253 wasn’t so bad after all.  The line organizers instructed us to come back at 4 a.m. to check in, and advised us that anyone who wasn’t present at that time, would be bumped out of the line. Fuck man, 4 a.m.? There went my beauty sleep!

We got 2.5 hours of sleep that night, but were back in line for the 4 a.m. check-in. It was still dark out people. I could barely see through my tired eyeballs and I had a migraine. Anyway, after making an appearance and confirming that the line would be moved at 6 a.m., we drove Mo (my car, not the rabbit) to the hotel, and walked back to the site (we’ d lucked out the night before as the hotel had a room available and we grabbed it). We returned to the site equipped with chairs, Gatorade, water and granola bars (if I never see one of THOSE again, it won’t be soon enough for me), and waited. Around 6 a.m., we were asked to get back in line in numerical order so that roll call could begin. As the line organizer began going through the list, a police van drove by, blasting U2 – fabulous! Even the cops supported our obsession! When all was said and done, we went from being #253-254-255 to #180-181-182. Now that’s more like it! And thus began a very long day in the infamous GA line….

Security moved us onto the site around 8-9 a.m. after checking everyone’s tickets, and we settled down for the day. It was incredibly hot – close to 30-degrees, and very, very sunny. Our fellow crazies had brought an assortment of chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen, hats, food, beverages, card games – needless to say that we were all pretty equipped and ready to share with our neighbors, and it was obvious that many of us had done this before. As with most GA lines, you meet plenty of people, and this is one of the things that I love most about the U2 community. By the end of the day, you’ve seen old friends whom you haven’t seen since the last tour,  you’ve met new friends that you’ll have for life, you’ve shared your vast GA knowledge with newbies who now regard you as their U2 mentor (hi Khine!) and you’ve enthusiastically shared your U2 stories with someone who will be experiencing a show for the very first time <squeal!>. You’ve plotted where the best spot on the floor will be, you’ve used your fair share of porto-potties, been sunburned and bitten, sweat like a hog and eaten way too many granola bars. You’ve heard the band sound-check and cheered with your fellow fans, you’ve burst into song as the hours passed, and you’ve run like you’ve never run before, once you got through those gates. What other band inspires that?

Finally, after a long, scorcher of a day, it was time to head inside the venue. Security began ‘the process’ around 4pm, and I have to give them props for maintaining the order of the line and kicking line-cutters back to where they belonged. Additionally, they did a pretty good job with sending us on site in batches, and maintaining the order of the madness. Now for the fun part.

After you’re scanned in and instructed not to run – well, you run your ass off because you have a goal (the goal is SOUL people). You know exactly where you want to be on the floor and nothing/no one is going to stop you from being on the outer rail, center stage, slightly to the left on Adam’s side where the walkway comes out… What? I had a specific destination in mind! SJ sprinted and I lost sight of her, so I ended up going into the pit (a.k.a: the inner circle) with N. I chose the back rail as my ‘spot.’ After settling into my prime location, I turned around to find Jake, Khine and SJ on the outer rail right behind me. I decided to go out and join them but was stopped by security – those bastards trapped me in the pit and I was unable to leave! Damn them and their stupid nonsensical rules! In addition to being trapped in ‘the hole’ as I like to call it,  we weren’t allowed to sit down while waiting for the show to start. Considering that we’d been in line all day, and U2 were only coming on around 9pm, this was pretty hard on our bodies. Didn’t these people realize I’d been in line for 18 damn hours? I had also been nursing a skull ache all day, and was starting to feel a little lightheaded – something I resolved by making a makeshift turban out of N’s shirt. It was during the 5.5 hour wait for U2 to come on, that I decided not to line up the next day, but rather watch the show from the back. I was dead tired, my body ached, and there was no way I was getting up at 3 a.m. for another check-in.

Fast-forward to U2

As daylight ended, the 360 crew began setting up the band’s equipment. We watched as Dallas Schoo tuned Edge’s guitar, and as the infamous Rocco ran frantically around the stage, making sure everything was as it should be. As the last crew members left the stage, Bowie’s Space Oddity began to play. Those of us who had already been to a 360 show, knew what that meant: SHOWTIME!

The energy in the pit suddenly increased tenfold and the level of excitement was palpable as fans in the bleachers went wild. We watched the four members of U2 make their way toward the stage via the LED screen, the crowd in a frenzy. As the band members stepped on-stage, the crowd erupted in what can only be described as a VERY warm welcome – one that is unique to Montreal and that cannot be matched by any other city, except perhaps, Dublin. It was obvious that Bono and the boys were thrilled to be back in Montreal – one of their favorite show cities – and they kick-started the show with Even Better Than the Real Thing. Oh. My. GOD. I SO was not expecting this to be the show opener! My immediate reaction was to start jumping as I let out the infamous Bedouin call (did you expect anything less?). Those of you who know me, know that Achtung Baby is my favorite album of all time – so I was positively ecstatic to hear several songs off this album. Other song highlights for me, were I Will Follow, Elevation, Scarlet, Zooropa, Crazy and Moment of Surrender. Scarlet is a song from the band’s October album, that most of us have never heard live so this was a real treat. Bono sang this as a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been under house arrest in Burma for 15 years, and who was finally  released. Bono chose to speak to the crowd in French, which was lovely and comical, if nothing else. It was an incredible night, a very loud night, that ended with Moment of Surrender. As the band closed out the song, it began to rain lightly; Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry stepped out from behind their instruments and walked to the front of the stage, where they sang Rain. Just as they finished, amidst a frenzy of screaming fans, the sky literally opened up and the rain began coming down in torrents. It felt like we were being hit with pellets – it was cold and nasty, and the wind was insane! I actually wondered if we were going to get hit with some kind of post-U2 tornado! So imagine if you will, 80,000 concert-goers trying to get the hell out of the Hippodrome via one exit. Complete and utter madness. But, a truly memorable end to a show that surely won’t be forgotten any time soon. Bono truly does command all – even the weather 😉

When we finally made it back to the hotel, we showered and went to bed; my final mumble of the night was something like ‘fuck this, I’m not lining up tomorrow.’ Around 6 a.m. I heard the girls whispering; I asked what they were doing and they said they were going to line up. Screw that – I rolled over and went back to sleep. I awoke around 10 a.m. to the sound of whispers that seemed strangely close, and opened my eyes to find both SJ and N still in bed –  apparently I wasn’t the only one who needed to sleep! SJ asked me what I was going to do, and I replied “Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!” And back in line we went. This time we were about 600th in line, the sun was just as hot as the day before, and I foresaw another day of granola bars, Gatorade and porto-potties ahead of me. Unlike the previous day though, security was not letting us off the premises, which meant that we were stuck on-site until the start of the show. This meant $5 water bottles and other assorted over-priced crap. It also meant that no one would be allowed to dump their chairs, blankets etc. before the show started, nor would we be able to take quick showers to freshen up. Poop.  This time around, security wasn’t as organized when they let us in – they basically let everyone crash through the gates at the same time. I bee-lined for the pit again, and found myself center-stage with SJ, N and other friends from TO. This was prime real estate – even better than night 1! I started out about 20 ‘rows’ from the stage, and by the time we reached the midway point, I was about 10 rows back. Totally Awesome. I love being at the heart of the action, and admittedly, after my first front-row experience in 2001, there’s no way I can ever go back to sitting in the bleachers. I’m a jumper and a screamer – I might fall of the bleachers amidst all my excitement 😀

Clearly, night 1 was amazing. But night 2 was on out of this world! The energy and vibe were absolutely incredible, and the band sounded even better then they had on the first night. It was obvious that they were thrilled to be playing a second show, and Bono told us that while Friday night had been great, we were going to party harder that [Saturday] night  – and boy did we party! The crowd was wild and exuberant from beginning to end. I screamed for 3 hours, sang the lyrics to every single song, and often worried I might deafen my own self. Let’s just say I’ve got a great set of lungs. Surprisingly, I never lost my voice – this is quite perplexing to me. Anyway, U2 changed up the set list somewhat, and we heard classics like Out of Control (AMAZING!), All I Want is You (Incredible!), Stuck, New Year’s Day, Please and Hallelujah – an unspoken tribute to Leonard Cohen. Brilliant.  It was a fantastic night! I’ve included a few pics for you below.

Were you at the show? If so, what did you think? What were your memorable moments? If you’ve got a pic you’d like to share, let me know via the comments feed and I’ll feature it on the blog.

So… I’m ready to do it all over again – whose with me?

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized (pic taken by stranger!)

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized (I had to get creative to beat sun stroke)

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: Steph J.

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: Steph J.

Photo: Steph J.

Photo: Steph J. (converted to B&W by yours truly)

Photo: Nancy B.

Photo: Steph J.

Photo: RAnnDomized

13 thoughts on “Living it Up, 360 Style

  1. I lived in Canada long enough to learn not to trust Canada Post with so much as a post card. Let alone something so vital as U2 tickets!

    I was at the show in 2009. At the Rose Bowl. The one that streamed live on the internet. This tour is amazing and I loved every minute of it. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Ever. But your experience sounds so much cooler!

  2. I’m glad I got to finally share in Montreal love! ❤ 16 shows and 3 tours later!! 🙂 And I'm glad I got to share it with my awesome U2 peeps, friends old and new, friends from near and far. Remember how I kept saying this was the last tour I would be doing this GA line-up thing on? HAHAHAHA! I'm re-thinking this…

  3. ME ME!!:-p..great post Ann!!:-) and thank you for using one of my pictures 🙂

    And yes people I’m N…I caused the mini heart attacks..but hey everything worked out great! 🙂

    But those two nights were probably two of the best U2 shows I’ve seen,and I’ve seen them 10 times 🙂

    I’m going through U2 withdrawal now, So sad it’s over, but so happy I was apart of it with all my new and old U2 friends. 🙂

  4. Excellent post! We were there both nights too – MTL1 was our first GA and only 2nd show ever 🙂 But I remember it being much less organized that you describe – we didn’t get there til 1:00 pm so were at the back, and then around 2:30 there was an incredible crush and rush as everyone dropped their gear and pushed towards the front. We were crushed like sardines for 2 hours in the heat with drunk angry young men – not a good scene. Once we got inside, the whole thing was way easier than expected – great spot on inside rail on Adam’s side. Had seats for night 2 ’cause we didn’t know if we could physically do 2 GAs in a row (turns out we could have). Also had seats for Meadowlands, our 4th and final U2/360 show. From now, GA only!!!

    • Thank you 🙂 I think that the further back in line that you were, the less organized (and more agitated) it became. We were there at 4 a.m. and from my POV, it was pretty organized, with the exception that security didn’t tell us when they would move the line. That was annoying. LOL, here’s the thing (well, what I’ve learned from previous GAs) – after the first day, I always feel like I can’t do the next – but once I get my arse to the venue, I’m good to go! I had tickets to the Meadowlands! I sold them because I’ve already seen them there – Elevation 2001. GA all the way baby!

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