I originally had a concert a review in my head for last night's big show. Kind of lame, but kind of cool. Kind of weak, but kind of strong. Kind of pretentious, but kind of slick. Etc. blah. But it didn't turn out like that. I'll start from the beginning.
I zipped up to meet Gig for the big Heinz Field show last night. A 5 car accident at the Hazlett St. exit near McKnight had me a little worried as traffic came to a complete stop on 279N. But it picked up after 15 minutes or so... so no big deal. So armed with the obligatory water bottles filed with red and white wine (cab and chardonnay) we headed down to the PNC lot to hook up with some friends for some tailgating action. I have made the determination that any wine with the word "OAK" in the title is the maximum allowable expense ($4.00 to $5.00 range) for concert libation purposes. Especially since the consumption mode originated via one time-used Nestle plastic water bottle. Kudos to Walmart for 35 bottles for $4.35 or whatever they charge for the monster water package.
As always, I had my sign ready to go (I use the cardboard from the underside of the water - you see, Scalping Jew uses all of the components, much like his Indian ancestors used every part of the buffalo, just like his Apache ancestors). I used to say I was 1/10 Iriquois, but I'm pretty sure the Iriquois were more centrally located in the U.S. Apache sounds like the better tribe anyway. More belligerent and warlike. Jam on it!
Having paid a small fortune for tickets, our fellow tailgaters weren't too amused with my sign for this evening's festivities...
IF YOU GIVE ME A FREE TICKET
I WON'T MAKE FUN OF YOU FOR PAYING $269.00
So Gig and I made a trek down to the main gate area on our usual quest for freebies. As I expected, tickets were everywhere.
A. It was an off night - a Tuesday.
B. They announced this concert and put the tickets on sale about 11 months ago. Way to build the hype, Bono.
C. And Pittsburgh just doesn't have the local attendance draw of the cities like Chicago and Boston for football stadium shows.
I expected a crowd of about 44,000 - about 2/3 full. The crowd ended up being much larger - I'd guess around 55,000. Heinz Field capacity is 65,500 and I think they added more seats this year. Not quite sure how many - I'll have to look into that.
Regardless, Gig got a free ticket from some drunk dude who dropped his cell phone. And about 1 minute later I asked this guy if he had any extras and he gave me a 500 level comp ticket. I also asked one other guy before this, but he probably was looking for cash. So we asked a grand total of 3 people and secured 2 free tickets. It took us about 9 minutes and a 1/2 mile of walking. I would call his minimal effort. We never even made it to the main gate. The sign never came into play so I left it sticking out of the bushes. In my dream world, someone else will find the sign and use it to secure freebies. Once again, visible evidence of my Indian/Jew ancestry.
We headed back to the tailgate which was mildly raging. Around 8pm, we headed down to the Gate A entrance and stood on some kind of "pool lifeguard - deer stand - people watcher" contraption. A perfect source of "elevation" - an omen of a song we'd hear later that night. To be honest, I checked the set list from the previous few nights. Ours was similar but not exact - I like the fact that they mix things up a little. Kind of surprising considering they must synchronize the lighting with impromptu song choices for this elaborate, futuristic stage show.
While up on our perch, we snagged 2 additional tickets for our some new found friends below (some guy walking his dog and some other "Guido sounding" dude with a large patch of expertly exposed chest hair in various states of growth. We suggested the one guy pretend to use his dog as a seeing eye dog, but I doubt he followed up on that suggestion. I suppose it could have worked. I think the ultimate achievement would be to get one of those St. Bernard dogs and fill up his dangling thermos (as in the old-school Bugs Bunny cartoons) with scotch or whiskey. Then, you have your drinks for the evening.
Truth be told, the last thing we needed was more drinks. So we snagged an empty block of seats on the lower level. The background David Bowie selection of "Major Tom" effortlessly segued into a surprisingly strong rendition of "Even Better Than The Real Thing." Then I think it was "The Fly", "Mysterious Ways" and maybe "I Will Follow" - very cool energy level. About 4 songs in, some of the people in our row showed up for their seats. There was still sufficient room but I was overcome with a tremendous sense of guilt for "stealing" the seats near them. So we walked to the top of the stadium and hung out in the end zone bleacher seats for most of the show. These were pretty decent because they offered the entire view, with the city skyline serving as a more visible backdrop. We eventually made our way back down to the first level for the last 10 tunes.
And the stage show was really impressive. I've seen some strong stadium presentations - Stones at PNC, Floyd at Three Rivers and other venues, the usual Kiss theatrics, but this one was really over the top without seeming obnoxious. And I've seen some elaborate productions in smaller venues, like Alice Cooper, King Diamond and that ilk. But this one was definitely near or at the top. U2 really gave the crowd their monies worth. Well, maybe if you weren't one of the suckers who paid $269 for the best seats. Ohhh, and I forgot, you also had to eat an additional 2 tickets because Uncle Ray blew all his money at the gambling parlor and Aunt Brittany couldn't find a babysitter on such short notice. Hey, she only had an 11 month heads up. Ouch! All in all, I'd have to say that U Tuesday was a "Good." And they even closed with a heartfelt rendition of "Bad." Sorry if you missed this one. Then again, it was wing night at the Alpha.
Honestly, the show wasn't just "good" - I'd rank it somewhere between "Very Good to Excellent." High praise indeed.