It’s been a long weekend, but a very good one. Hannah and I were up at 5.30 on Saturday morning to drive to Atlanta for her Praxis exams.
I hung out downtown while she tested and in the afternoon we headed to Philips Arena for the U2 concert. The show started at 7.30 with an opening band that I haven’t heard of: The Institute. ‘Speed metal’ might be the best term to describe what they were doing.
The show was phenomenal. The band came on stage around 9.00 and played for around 2 hours, including two encores. (Here is a set list.) This was my first rock concert and what an experience it was! I sung and yelled myself hoarse and had a fantastic time.
The show was a good mix of new stuff from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb plus lots of older stuff. This is Atlanta, so “MLK” made an appearance and there was, it seemed, just a greater focus on social justice issues relating to race and co-existence in general. One of the more powerful moments in the show came when Bono discussed the One Campaign. The entire arena — some 21,000 people — opened their cell phones, texting their names, and lighting up the arena “like a Christmas tree.” The band also used a group of three songs (“Love and Peace or Else” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Bullet the Blue Sky”) to make some very strong (and needed) statements about American foreign policy. Also coming at this point in the show was a display of the UN Declaration on Human Rights (No. 5 was especially timely: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”). There were some songs that I wish I could have heard in live performance, but there were some other songs (“Until the End of the World,” one of my favorites) that I wasn’t expecting going in.
Sunday night we were back in Atlanta for a U2 Eucharist at All Saints’ Episcopal in downtown. The program included several songs (some unexpected ones in the mix, as well). The homily was built around U2’s message of social justice, with the offertory going to Bread for the World. I’ll try to post a program later.
It was off to Milledgeville, Georgia, today to visit a good friend of mine who is a minister of music at a Baptist church there. We visited the Flannery O’Connor home, Andalusia, this afternoon. Had a fascinating conversation about O’Connor and U2 and Bruce Springsteen with the curator and came away with copies of Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, the first of which I’ve already begun reading.