Last time I saw U2 was over twenty years ago. I was so wasted at the time I can't remember if it was the Boy tour or the War tour, or even what venue it was in. I think it was the Fox, as I vaguely recall seeing stars as Bono climbed a bank of speakers.
Then again, I can find no Googlable record of U2 having played the Fox in the early 80s, only the Agora and the Civic Center. Hmmmm.... pointless now, but I could have sworn it was the Fox. I do vaguely recall that The Alarm opened. The Hair Tour. Things used to be so simple; overly-amplified good hair was reason enough to go to a show and get trashed. Tickets sure seemed a lot more affordable too, even accounting for inflation.
I don't do stadium rock much anymore. I've simply outgrown the hype, unless the tickets are freebies. Even then it would be a rare outing for me to wander downtown to arena-rock. Still, I couldn't help feeling a little left out while listening to U2 all weekend on the radio. Nostalgia is a powerful force.
Instead, I decided to heed the call to sing-along loudly at church. Now, I have a deep and abiding wariness of any guitar-strumming, Accessible Christ kinda church service, where people wear jeans and display sinfully casual modes of worship, so can't say I'd ever been to a service featuring rock 'n roll music.
When I go to church, I want to hear crashing pipe organs and choirs of angels, not some self-absorbed wanker who finds a musically limited and predictably arrogant way to justify dumping his girlfriend.
Then again, now that Bono, in recognition of his relentless faithfulness, many good deeds and sheer loveablility, has ascended into heaven and is seated at the left hand of God The Father Awmighty, who shall come again to judge the living and the former mullet-wearers, my terribly staid, formal church went way outside the latest Book of Prayer and put together a U2 eucharist, this being U2 weekend here in the ATL.
The service was led by the engaging and quite young assistant rector, Noelle York-Simmons, an unabashed U2 fan who rocked out at the alter while preparing the sacraments.
The place was packed. It was standing room only, and families, particularly ones with teens, were out in force singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" all together during communion, loving ever minute of being together in such a genuine display of peace, love, understanding, and call to worship.
I was there by myself, and never for a minute felt alone. Thanks to blaring U2 songs, chiefly the overtly religious ones, there was a warm buzz of fellowship all over the place, something that is often missing in the high-church formality of the Episcopal liturgy, particularly at All Saints'.
When Rev'd York-Simmons worked Bono's current call to end world hunger into a homily admonishing all who were present to understand that God's compassion for us requires that we do all within our power to end the needless, unthinkable death by starvation of 11-million children under the age of five every year on this planet we all take-up space on, the collection plates, the contents of which would be given to a global children's charity, easily filled to overflowing.
As the glorious vaulted ceilings of the gilded All Saints' sanctuary next to the Varsity filled with Bono's urgent, holy voice giving rock and roll thanks to God, so did each heart that walked out of the church last night and on to the week ahead. Not only will we sing a new song... this time we will mean it. Just as God, Jesus and Bono want us to do.