...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Stay, and the night would be enough :: U2 in San Jose 4/20/2001

April 19th 2001 was a Thursday night, grey and raining as I recall. I had been working at my first job out of college for about four months and was still getting used to not being a student anymore. Living in a tiny tiny apartment right in the heart of the ghetto next to an Asian karaoke bar, it was downwind from a fish market, with the occasional crazy person attacking the lobby door with a crowbar. Home sweet home.

Upon getting home from work that ordinary Thursday night, I retrieved a phone message from KFOG radio, letting me know that instead of Friends & ER that night, I was going to be seeing U2 in San Jose -- winning a contest I forgot I'd entered. Not a bad exchange. On such short notice, everything feels more exciting and more wonderful because you've had absolutely no time in your mind to build it up or form any sort of anticipations, you're just grabbing your coat and heading to Will Call for a night that stuns you in its intimacy despite being shared with 20,000 other people.

The Thursday night show was incredible, U2 are probably the best stadium showmen alive, and I say that having not yet seen Bruce Springsteen. Everything from the into-the-crowd peninsula of the heart-stage setup on that tour, to the surprising range of material they pulled out -- all seemed crafted to transcend the artificiality of the arena show and feel, surprisingly, much more like a smaller venue. I was struck by how personal it felt. I left the show much more engaged and blown-away than I had during the fantastic orgy of the Oakland PopMart tour in 1997 with Oasis opening. That was glitz and sparkle, swagger and neon; this was something altogether different.

Thursday night's set didn't have a single song that I wish they'd left out; even the radio hits that I've heard so many bajillions of times that I (admit it) will often flip the station when they come on, those tunes were invigorated as if they hadn't been sung over and over for the last twenty+ years. 2001 U2 was a band at the very top of their ever-heightening game. Just listen (for example) to the rev and tug of the guitar breakdown that the Edge inserts into Friday night's "Where The Streets Have No Name" shortly after the 4 minute mark. It's like an engine turning over, still ready to tear out of there.

However, the night I was there didn't include the unique gem that came Friday, one of the reasons that I love this 4/20/01 boot instead: U2 played a wistful acoustic version of "Stay (Faraway So Close)" for the first time ever in the U.S. that night. In fact, they tell me that it was the first time a song from Zooropa had been performed on U.S. soil.

"Stay" is such a different song without the clattery drum beat and the Zooropa-era sheen to it, but I honestly savor the perfect simplicity of this rendition and the way Bono wraps up all the late-night longing with just an acoustic guitar. Similar to the first time Pearl Jam played "Leash" in over 12 years (in Boston, May '06), I especially get a thrill listening as the crowd catches on to the moment.

Favorite moments on this boot also include a sweetly heartfelt acoustic version of "In A Little While," performed on the edge of the heart and dedicated to Joey Ramone (who had died 5 days before) saying, "This is a song Joey Ramone loved, and we loved him, so..." Starting from there and going through that 4-song lineup of In A Little While/Angel of Harlem/Stay (Faraway So Close)/All I Want Is You, finishing with the crowd singing along with all that was in them -- whew. That's a pretty unstoppable 15 minutes. And then since I am a complete Achtung Baby pushover, the one-two punch of "Mysterious Ways" and "The Fly" did me in as well. The buoyant "Kite" also saw its live debut this night.

The quality of this boot is excellent; this is the audience recording rather than the soundboard one that is also floating around out there, because I like hearing the crowd noise. Thursday's setlist had many similarities to this boot below (but I got to see "Even Better Than The Real Thing" and thought I might die of happiness). Since contest winners can't be choosers, and since it would have set me back $85 to actually *pay* for my ticket to Friday's show, I'll have to satiate myself with this fantastic boot. Easy to do.

Elevation / Creep (snippet)
Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year's Day
(live debut)
New York
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday / Get Up Stand Up (snippet)
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
Band Introductions
In A Little While (for Joey Ramone)
Angel Of Harlem
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
(U.S. debut)
All I Want Is You
Psalm 116 (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
Mysterious Ways / Sexual Healing (snippet)
The Fly
Bullet The Blue Sky / Whole Lotta Love (snippet)
With Or Without You
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Walk On
(halle, hallelujah...indeed)


[Thanks to U2Start for a lot of this, and to Otto Kitsinger and The Chronicle for some great photos]

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At January 06, 2008 7:33 PM, Blogger ANTHONY KUZMINSKI said...

Not only was it the tour debut of "Stay" it was the world debut of "Kite", a stunning pair of tunes done proud on the 2001 tour. The '01 tour found this band on another plane...and when I saw then three weeks later in Chicago for four straight nights, they performed their most daring and adventerous sets in a dozen years. Great post!

At January 06, 2008 7:51 PM, Blogger C Ford said...

I was lucky enough to see them at Notre Dame - the smallest venue they had played in the US for years - during that tour.

The show was broadcast via the web and its timing, a few weeks after 9/11, meant every American was still nursing some fresh wounds. So, when Bono announced they'd flown in members of the NYPD and NYFD and had them take a lap around the heart-shaped stage during Walk On, there were few dry eyes in the hall.

To this day, when I hear Walk On - whether it's the album version or the version from this show - I have to fight back tears.

It was the best concert I've ever attended.

At January 06, 2008 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Heather. "Leash" was actually played two nights earlier, May 25, in Boston. I skipped that show to see the town but went to Boston night No. 1 and both Camden shows.

I enjoyed the NPR interview. Well-done!


At January 06, 2008 8:37 PM, Blogger heather said...

When I said Camden I meant to say Boston. Sheesh. Thanks. I clearly knew that (see the link)...


And thanks for the NPR kudos

At January 06, 2008 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the boot Heather. I first saw U2 in 1983 at Massey Hall here in Toronto and enjoy them as much now as I did then. Great blog, as usual. Mark

At January 06, 2008 10:43 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

wow....there's nothing like seeing U2 live! I can't wait for the next time....

At January 07, 2008 12:19 AM, Blogger goldenfiddle said...

that is fucking awesome.

At January 07, 2008 7:13 AM, Blogger Susan said...

I saw U2 a couple years earlier at Camp Randall in Madison, WI. I had the worst head cold though and had so much cold medication in me I felt like the walking dead. That said, I think there was a belly dancer on stage but I can't be sure. It still ranks in my top 10 concerts.
Thanks for getting me listening to a little U2 again..It's been a long time.
Strangely enough, last night I was on the website for The National Gallery in Dublin and right on the front page was a picture of Bono visiting. Talk about a cultural icon.

At January 07, 2008 7:33 AM, Anonymous moue said...

Thanks Heather for the linkups. It's nice listening to them again after such a while. I saw them for Popmart in Sydney, and can't help but remember the rain, the malfunctioned Lemon, and one hell of a concert.

At January 07, 2008 8:23 AM, Anonymous Mitch said...

Thanks for this Heather - saw them that fall, post 9-11 - had a different kind of power than when I'd seen them before or since! Fantastic show these guys put on!

At January 07, 2008 8:43 AM, Anonymous uwmryan said...

Great post. Have you seen/heard Billy Corgan's take on Stay?


At January 07, 2008 12:17 PM, Anonymous Lloydie77 said...

It's funny that there is not one tune from "Pop", which the record before the one they were currently touring behind. With the breadth and depth of material covered here, though, there isn't a disappointment here, except that I still have yet to see them live!

At January 07, 2008 1:39 PM, Anonymous Erik T. said...

Thanks for the boot Heather. Always nice to hear about great live U2 stories-did you happen to catch PJ Harvey's opening set? I adore her-'White Chalk' is an amazing, haunting record. I saw U2 in '92 with the great Public Enemy opening, but having PJ open would be such a treat.

At January 07, 2008 2:12 PM, Blogger Pete P. said...

You're one lucky girl to win a contest like that! Must've been some night!

The live versions are great but I also really like the "Zooropa sheen" of the studio version of Stay. The humming noise that starts developing in the background at the start of the song and then crashes to a climax near the end really sets it apart, it's wonderful.

Bono also recorded an orchestral version with Craig Armstrong, on Armstrong's album As If To Nothing.

At January 07, 2008 2:12 PM, Blogger Pete P. said...

You're one lucky girl to win a contest like that! Must've been some night!

The live versions are great but I also really like the "Zooropa sheen" of the studio version of Stay. The humming noise that starts developing in the background at the start of the song and then crashes to a climax near the end really sets it apart, it's wonderful.

Bono also recorded an orchestral version with Craig Armstrong, on Armstrong's album As If To Nothing.

At January 07, 2008 5:33 PM, Blogger firedande said...

awesome. i was 15 feet away from that 4 song set on the tip of the heart. you got a boot of slow dancing from the 11-16-01 oakland show? or of a sort of homecoming?....did you know they pulled a fan up to play guitar and instead of him playing whatever song the band wanted he quickly jumped into a sort of homecoming and bono couldn't remember the lyrics but they played in anyhow? awesome. and i wanted it directly on your head.

At January 08, 2008 12:19 PM, Anonymous Owen said...

while not a big U2 fan, one of my favorite bands covered Bullet the Blue Sky (with vocals from Will Bradford of Seepeoples) on New Years Eve in Charlotte, NC. thought you might dig it given this blog entry...

link below is a stream of the entire show but you can easily find Bullet the Blue Sky in there.


At January 08, 2008 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anne said...

Love this! Thank you!

At January 08, 2008 6:02 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Hey, thanks for the boot, Heather! I was a huge U2 fan for a while, but got turned off in the mid-90's. Sounds like I missed out on some killer shows.

At January 18, 2008 11:24 PM, Blogger Nigel said...

Thanks for this show. I used to have a copy and I'd forgotten how amazing it is. By the way, I once read in Rolling Stone that U2 came backstage after a California show on this tour and swore it was the best show they'd EVER played. They told friends, family, and reporters. I've never been able to find the article again and I've never been able to nail down the date. Anyone know ?

At January 18, 2008 11:39 PM, Blogger Nigel said...

By the way,at the end of elevation, all the bootleg databases I've read note the "creep" snippet but ignore the Mamas and Papas' "California Dreaming" snippet. Plus that radiohead-esque riff is in the studio version of the song and all the live versions, so I've always wondered if it's really a snippet at all. That's how much of a U2 geek I am, and maybe I should get a life...

At January 29, 2008 6:01 PM, Anonymous elizabeth said...

I always enjoy your blog, Heather, and was delighted to see that you are a bit of a fan of U2 also. I've loved the boys since I first heard them on college radio when Boy was making the alt rock rounds. The Elevation tour was so great because they did some amazing backcatalog work, and made fairly seamless transitions throughout all three legs. Although the first appearance of any new song, Stay being among the first and a particular fan favorite at that, was cause for celebration among the fans on the boards and list servs. (If you haven't listened to any boots from the third leg, you might check them out, POP was conspicuously present with Please and at least one or two other tunes at every show. Ali apparently commented that they were eerily prescient of 911.) I've always found them to be the best band live - I never judge a new U2 song based on the studio version, I wait to hear it live - and while I don't get to as many shows as other fans, I was lucky to see two on that tour, one in DC in June (that was the day after the now-infamous manhole explosion incident adjacent to their hotel), and, yes, I loved PJ's opening set. And my favorite show ever, the November show in Denver, just a couple of weeks after they started scrolling names during One. (I had heard about it from friends, but seeing it was another thing altogether. Not many dry eyes in the arena that night.) And the capper of that tour for me was their Superbowl appearance. I had said we needed them to sing MLK again (UF is my favorite U2 album), and when they opened the set with MLK, I blubbered like a silly baby.
I lost both this boot and the URL of the current site for U2 boots (they've been moved a bazillion times), so I am really happy to hear it again, thanks. And I agree, a U2 boot without the audience noise is incomplete. It's 4 guys with 30-40,000 backup singers and yet it does, as you said, still manage to feel very intimate.

Sorry to ramble on, but your post brought memories flooding back. Thanks again.


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