We headed for Kansas City Tuesday morning.
It's only four hours from Tulsa, so we got there around noon.
Stayed at the Ameristar Casino, which is a cardboard box compared to anything in Las Vegas.
The carpet had a big stain between the couch and the TV, four light
bulbs were out,
the TV remote didn't have the "volume up" button - little things like that.
Room service shuts off at ten, the bars are closed on Sunday & Monday.
I called the front desk to ask which, if any of their many fancy restaurants
had fine tequila.
They put me thru to "Food services" who said yes, that had fine tequila at Panchos,
but she was very, very sorry that it was closed on Sundays & Mondays.
It was Tuesday.
The casino is a joke.
You can't even get inside without "signing up."
Plus, everything works on tokens, not cash.
That's not gambling, that's insulting.
The food was really lousy, too.
We ate at the Mexican restaurant and I took a bite of the enchiladas and a bite
of the beans and the worse-than-frozen-TV-dinner rice and left the rest.
I'm always surprised when they spend millions on a place, then serve crap food,
The day went fast and it was approaching showtime.
I've been to concerts in a dozen cities but I've never seen a more poorly
complex than Kemper Arena. It's harder to find than a G spot, and it's way the hell
down some dark, dank streets that are more narrow than Jerry Falwell's views on sex.
Parking was a joke, and it was about 30 degrees with howling wind ...the howling winds....
We were stuck in the cab about 8 blocks away and we weren't moving.
Showtime was approaching and the whole point was to see the backup band
so we got out and walked those last 8 blocks in the howling wind. ...the howling winds....
But nothing was going to make it a negative day, because we were going to see Garbage and U2.
Garbage hit the stage at 7:45 and check out Shirley!
She died her hair blonde - she looked like 7-of-9 on Star Trek, but with shorter hair.
She had on combat boots, Mr. McBeevey pants and a black top with the sleeves cut off,
and absolutely no makeup at all. She looked like one of the guys.
They started with Push It from the second album.
Great song, Shirley delivered, and it was perfect!
That tiny girl with the hueueueuge voice...
Click Here to hear a very short MP3 of Shirley knocking the first pitch out of the park
How can she have such a huge voice with those tiny feet?
Next up were Special, a tribute to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders
and I Think I'm Paranoid, also from album 2.0 Great songs, served piping hot!
Koresh, if you're not having fun watching this band, you don't like music.
The fourth song was Silence is Golden, one of the new ones. It
closes with a really hard-rocking,
overpowering 4/4 blitzkreig that got the crowd riled up, then, confusing me, they did Drive You Home next,
which is a great song, it's just real slow, which killed their Big Mo.
Next was #1 Crush, which is one of those extra-dark songs.
I would die for you
I would kill for you
I will steal for you
I'd do time for you
I will wait for you
I'd make room for you
I'd sail ships for you
To be close to you
Stupid Girl (which Rush uses as bumper music) followed, and it
got a big cheer from the crowd.
Then Shut Your Mouth from the new album, a favorite of mine, and Breaking up the Girl,
which is to be their next single. Maybe the record company will promote this one? Maybe?
Then Cherry Lips, which tells the story of a friend of a friend
Shirley's face lit up> She was all smiles and you could tell she loves singing this song.
Vow followed that,
I came to knock you up
I came to cut you down
I came around to tear your little world apart
I came to rip you up
I came to shut you down
I came around to tear your little world apart
Break your soul apart
...remind me not to get on her bad side.
Then they closed with I'm Only Happy When it Rains.
Great songs, great show. I just wish it could've been longer.
We had decent seats,
but we brought the binocs, anyway. I just stayed glued to Shirley the whole set.
She was having a great time, exchanging glances and smiles with the others.
...and nobody works a stage like Shirley Manson.
Spinning and turning and getting in the face of the front row luckies.
Belting out those big songs, she has this defiant body language.
Whens she's onstage, you can't look away - she owns you.
I don't know how she can sing both vocal parts and still find time to
And, before you ask, she was not lip-synching anything.
I was watching her closer than Hardon Kenneth Starred watched Clinton's zipper.
This was the band we came to see, and we got our money's worth.
...but the night was young.
Great show, Shirley.
I can't wait to see it again, which'll be tomoro night!
The U2 people started getting everything ready for the big headliner.
Eight spotlight men were hoisted up into the lighting racks above the stage,
another dozen spotlights and cameras were set up around the arena.
At one point, I saw eight cameramen just inside the giant heart.
Guitars were tuned & tested, the drums were checked, everything was ready.
The Beatles were blaring thru the PA - All You Need is Love and Sgt Peppers.
Then, the lights went UP, and the band walked towards the stage with
the lights on.
The place went ape-shit.
The energy level went thru the roof, and they hadn't even started yet.
The Edge and Adam grabbed their guitars, Larry smacked the drums to
Bono went to the front of the stage, dropped to one knee and slowly made the Sign of the Cross.
Very dramatic gesture for a man who hates the hyposcrisy of some frauds in organized religion.
Edge started Elevation and the energy level got kicked up another
Thousands of people started that wacky jumping/pogo-ing.
It's a strange sight to see. The whole place just exploded.
Bono was screaming his war whoops and the place went postal.
Right after Elevation was It's a Beautiful Day.
Then, amazingly, we got Until the End of the World, which I think is their best song ever.
Usually, EOTW comes later in the show, so that meant something funny was going on.
All eyes were on Bono as he prowled the giant heart that extends the
stage to the center
of the huge hall. As Edge was playing his ass off, Bono was walking as tho he was being
shocked with electrical current, then he'd stagger a few feet, only to be shocked again.
Like Shirley, you can't take your eyes off of him. Sure, he could've just stood there like
a book on a shelf, but goddammit, he's here to put on a SHOW for Kansas City.
I'm going to assume you've never been to a U2
show, but over the years Bono and The Edge
have gotten into this theater thing where as EOTW is closing, they "fight" each other.
It mostly resembles a matador and a bull. They're both out at the tip of the heart and they run
at each other and make these "hostile" moves like a feint a boxer might throw. Bono intentionally
fell down, as tho Edge had landed a big blow, then Bono kicked at Edge, trying to fight him off.
I'm not sure what it all means, but for the second time in one night,
we saw the best in the business
as they delivered the kind of show that other groups don't even try to attempt.
We're only three songs into it and the place is a f-ing madhouse.
Next was New Year's Day, and yes, Rich, he did it without sunglasses.
Great version of a great song.
Next was one of the peaks in a peak-filled show.
As great as The Edge is, this is Bono's band.
Or at the very least, someone has to play quarterback, and on this team, it's Bono.
Well, during I Will Follow, Bono called an audible.
One thing U2 does is they really make the crowd feel like this is THEIR show,
not just show #22 on a long list of obligations for their record company.
When they got to the part where Bono is supposed to sing, Your
eyes make a circle,
Bono thought of something he wanted to share with the crowd, so while Edge is playing
his regular chiming guitar for that part of the song, Bono starts speaking instead of singing...
The band knows he might "go off" at any time so they constantly have to pay attention.
I was writing very fast in the dark, and here's what I caught as Bono looked at The Edge playing
Those bells, ...those beautiful bells
The Edge plays ...they will ring forever...
Twenty years ago,
...twenty years ago,
...twenty years ago, we were at The Uptown...
The place erupted again. "The Uptown" meant nothing to me, but it meant everything to this crowd.
I was eighteen, ...seventeen, ...eighteen,
and I asked for a drink.
The bartender told me I wasn't old enough to have a drink there, and I said C'mon, mister.
This is my band playing here tonight. I just want to have a drink and celebrate with them and you
and the people of Kansas City. You see, we're from Ireland and we came to America to find our fortune
and we just signed a record deal and I want to have a drink to celebrate with my friends.
Then back to the song...
Your eyes make a circle
I see you when I go in there
Your eyes, ....your eyes...
Your eyes, ....your eyes...
If you walkaway, walkaway
Walkaway, walkaway...I will folloooooow...
I thought it was a real cool moment, and it seemed unplanned.
That's one reason I wanted to see them back-to-back on consecutive
- to see how much was the regular show and how much was spontaneous.
Just like with fine tequila, you need to compare to judge accurately.
Then, the most amazing thing happened:
Marlon Brando and Macauley Culkin walked out with Liz Taylor and Bono's chimp.
They were carrying the Elephant Man's bones and Bono's old nose and...
No, wait, ...sorry, that was the Michael Jackson's "I'm great" tribute to himself.
Next up was Sunday, Bloody Sunday.
When Bono screamed "We're
so sick of it!" you could tell he had September 11th
While the band played, he caught a glimpse of an American flag in the crowd and motioned
to the fellow holding it to pass it up to him at the point of the heart stage.
When he got the flag he buried his face in it.
It was a hueueueueuge moment.
There were the obvious "wipe these tears away" lyrics he was working
but the religious symbolism is what got the best of me. I wondered if,
when he gave the flag back, his face would be on the flag like the Shroud of Turin.
I got chills and I felt tears running down my face.
I was crying, but it wasn't crying like Bob Dole at Nixon's funeral.
No, it was the still-ongoing two-hour orgasm catching up with me.
He had the crowd from Elevation's first war whoop, but
after that deal with the flag
this crowd was ready to walk on hot coals for him.
Next was Stuck in a Moment You can't Get Out Of, another
song about his friend
Michael Hutchence from INXS. Losing Hutchence really shook him. I read an interview
where Bono said he & Hutchence had a no-suicide pact with each other, so he was
certain that Hutchence's death was an accident, not a suicide.
Next was an acoustic Desire followed by Kite which
he dedicated to his father who died this year.
U2 was on tour in Europe when his dad was inching towards death in a Dublin hospital,
and Bono would fly to see him after each show.
This is the only rock concert I've been to in 25 years where I didn't smell pot.
Maybe the pot in Kansas City is like Tulsa pot - not worth smoking...
Another thing - Bono was sweating like crazy by the end of the second song,
but he kept that black leather jacket on the entire show.
Maybe it's like a baseball pitcher - keeping his jacket on even when it's warm...
Bringing the mood back up, they did Angel of Harlem.
New York, like a Christmas tree
Tonight Kansas City belongs to me - Aaaaangel
This seemed like a greatest hits show, and the hits just kept coming.
Does Bono read bartcop.com?
"This next song is about political fanatics and religious nutcases..."
Down the drain
Shards of glass
Splinters like rain
But you could only feel
Your own pain
Talk getting nowhere
Are we're just starting again
Get up off your knees, yeah
Twice, his voice broke with emotion.
September 11th is haunting everybody these days...
It was another highlight of a show that kept hitting higher and higher peaks.
Then came Bad.
Anyone old enough to remember LIVE AID knows U2 stole that show of superstars
with that unforgettable version of Bad - when Bono left the stage and found an everygirl
to throw his arms around. That was the song put them on the world map.
They kept coming with Where the Streets Have No Name.
That's the song they did during that NBA game earlier this year.
While the band is building momentum, Bono is praying to God
"What can I do to thank Almighty God?
What can I give back, to thank Him for all my blessings?"
...and then the song exploded - BANG
and so did the lights and the audience - again.
One climax after another.
The entire floor was jumping and hopping around, and it struck
me that we were in Kansas City,
reminding me of a Blazing Saddles joke. The energy level was unbelievable in that place.
Next was Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, from
BTW, Bono's voice was great. I've seen them eight times, and I've seen them
when his voice wasn't always there, but it was there in Kansas City - BIG time.
By this time I figured we must be nearing the end.
They're running out of songs, I thought, and running long on time.
Then they brought out Pride, for Martin Luther King Jr.
Halfway thru the song, a giant video screen appears for the first
It has Dr. King's face - about eight feet tall - staring at the crowd.
When it came to the chorus, Bono screamed, "Sing for the King!"
...and while the band continued to play, something happened:
Dr. King's frozen likeness came to life and started speaking.
"Like anybody, I would like
to live a long life.
Longevity has its place.
But I'm not concerned about that now.
I just want to do God's will.
And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.
And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land.
I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land."
Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
Jesus Christ, you think that's not a moving moment?
Nobody delivers like U2.
I'd like to thank the Republican party for not murdering Bill Clinton.
With Clinton, they just fabricated a sex scandal instead of fucking murdering him like they did to Dr. King.
Remember what Gene L:yons said in his Buzzflash
Why do they hate Clinton so much?
In Arkansas, you have to start
with who else they hate. If you talk about the strongest Clinton-haters,
you're often talking about people who are one step away from Klansmen. And they became
angrier and angrier, and more and more bitter, because after the Voting Rights Act passed in 1964,
Thanks, GOP, for showing some restraint
and not killing Clinton, and I really mean that.
Pride song ended and the band walked off the stage.
This is a show. Fuck me.
The first encore was Bullet the Blue Sky, a viciously-performed
In another extra-dramtic moment, Bono is prowling the heart with his X-Files flashlight.
You know the ones - they cost about $4,000 each.
When it's time for the fighter planes, every light in the house
went out, except Bono's flashlight.
He was simulating the London searchlights in WWII as he swept around the crowd with his lone light.
Simple stuff - any band could do it - so why don't they?
Other bands don't even try - they just suck.
For 14 years, that song has closed with
"and they run, ...and they run, ...into the arms of America..."
but not tonight. It's my guess that Bono has some inconsistency here because he hated the American
intervention in Nicaragua, but if he's entertaining the troops in 2001, he must be supporting our boys
as they take revenge for September 11th, so he came up with a new ending for Bullet.
There's no way I can replicate it, but when it came time to shut
he just started screaming, "America, ...America, ... America, ... America, ...America, ..."
I told you it wouldn't be the same, but it was goddamn chilling to hear those screams.
Did I mention that I was impressed?
Bullet was followed by Marvin Gaye's What's Going On
and New York, New York from
the new album. As they leave the stage for the second time, Bono finally removed his leather coat.
He turned it inside out to reveal an American flag lining, and placed it inside-out on the mic stand,
which sent a signal to the audience that the show wasn't over - not yet.
When they came out for the second encore, they seemed all serious
Bono started to speak, and the madhouse became eerily silent.
He mentioned how privileged and humbled they were to be touring
America "at this time"
and he thanked everyone and that giant video screen popped up again from inside the stage.
As they started playing One, words in big block letters appeared on the giant screen.
Airlines Flight 11
United Airlines Flight 93
American Airlines Flight 77
United Airlines Flight 175
..and the name of every crew member and passenger scrolled by as the band played.
Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
But we're not the same
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
After the airline victims, the giant letters NYPD
came on the screen,
and a massive scream of support came from the crowd as those names scrolled by,
only to be topped by the screams when they saw FDNY and the even longer list of names there.
Sadly, the list of names was longer than the song, so they went
into Walk On
from the new album to close the show. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
As the last song ended, Bono said, "Thanks
Kansas City, and Almighty God," and they were gone.
and the crowd walked into that howling wind ..the howling winds.... with a memory that will stick with them forever.
It was a hell of a show.
Getting back to the hotel, we realized we were just at halftime,
that we'd see the whole thing again in 21 hours.
Tomoro's show would be different...
...and that report will be up tomorrow.