20 December 2006
Tamara Went to Honolulu...
How Come? Well, Tamara Kendall from the UK won the 'Hunt The Lyric' competition for those return flights and tickets to the final Vertigo show. Here's the diary she kept of how she and her mate Hannah flew to Honolulu to see U2.
'U2 in Hawaii:Tamara's Gone to Honolulu
You know how it goes: you enter a competition and you think to yourself "never in a million years". But then the phone rings..."I'm pleased to inform you that you've won the trip to see U2 in Honolulu". Of course my first instinct was to think it's a wind up and put the phone down. Thankfully, I didn't.
I still can't quite believe it actually happened, but I've got the ticket-stub, jet lag, and sand in my book (it just gets everywhere!) to prove it. Not to mention the eye-witness account of my mate Hannah who came with me. On our return, the good people at U2.com had emailed asking if I'd say a few words about the trip. I can't improve on their summary so I'll just tell you what is was like for me personally, and I hope he doesn't mind but I've taken stylistic inspiration from our favourite diarist, Willie Williams...
07.12.2006 : Travel day, London - Honolulu
I woke up, or rather got up (in truth, I never really slept - far too excited), and got on our 11am flight from Heathrow. The flight was the longest I've ever experienced, 19 hours give or take. Reading, eating and sleeping seemed to take up only 10 seconds of the journey, so I also watched three and a half films and still had time to run the battery down on my iPod.
We arrived at the hotel around 9pm local time (7am in London the next day) and stepped outside the air-conditioned airport into Hawaii's lovely balmy sea air. But after such a long flight, we only had enough energy for a quick drink on our balcony over-looking the sea below, which was literally a spit away. Not that I put it to the test.
08.12.2006 : Travel day, Honolulu - Maui
There was a lot going on in Honolulu this weekend. Aside from a concert by a certain Irish four-piece, apparently there was also a surfing tournament, a marathon, and ceremonies for the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbour. It meant that we couldn't stay on Oahu for all five nights so we were to spend the next three in Maui, but we'd got up in time to spend a couple of hours on the beach before catching the short flight. Just after take-off, the cabin crew pointed out the area on Oahu where 'Lost' is filmed. Unfortunately we were too high up to see anything, though I did contort my neck trying to catch a glimpse of that Sawyer.
09.12.2006 : Show Day, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
At last... we'd waited 33 days for this! Not only did we have the concert to look forward to, but also our transfers from Maui to Honolulu and back were...wait for it... by private jet! How great to be driven straight up to the steps of this little plane and fly off. No check-in, no departure gates, no queuing. Very rock 'n' roll.
As for the concert, what can I say? It was everything you hope to experience at a U2 gig... and more! I'm a freelance live-music event organiser so I found myself marvelling at the whole staging structure, visual displays, lighting rigs and PA system. From our seats I could see a bit of the backstage area too, and towards the end of the concert, there was even someone precariously perched on top of the massive lighting wall that backdrops the stage. What an incredible view of the stage and audience he must have...
I discovered U2's music in 1983, though I never got to see them live until 10 years later at Zooropa, then every tour since. Each gig is amazing, poignant, visually stimulating and sonically exhilarating - and this was no exception. Apparently it was the biggest concert ever staged in Hawaii, so the vibe of the crowd throughout the night was of euphoria and awe.
Rocko and the Devils got everyone's attention - they even got me to my seat from the margarita kiosk! And as for Pearl Jam, they're one of those bands I'd always wanted to see live and they were fantastic. Eddie Vedder even offered his thanks for the chance to play to such an enthusiastic U2 audience especially "under Hawaiian skies".
My highlights? Every single minute was brilliant - with surprise after delightful surprise.
From the instant Arcade Fire's Wake Up signalled U2 were moments from taking the stage, everyone's adrenalin was racing and didn't stop until well after the 2hr 15min set! I loved I Will Follow and lost myself during Mysterious Ways, and no doubt to the great joy of those around me, I'd lost my voice by the middle of Bullet the Blue Sky. My heart melted during The First Time and the big notes in Sometimes and Miss Sarajevo. And when the guy from the audience went up to play with the band on Who's Gonna Ride and then leapt for joy all the way back down the ramp, it was like we were all up there on stage too.
Of course there will always be songs you wish they'd played. For me: Bad, The Electric Co., Party Girl, One Tree Hill, Running to Stand Still, All Because of You, Mofo, Fast Cars, An Cat Dubh, Gloria, Until the End of the World, Exit, Out of Control... in short, everything they've ever written.
It was great to hear the new tunes Window In the Skies and The Saints Are Coming, and the jam for Rockin' In the Free World with Eddie and Mike from Pearl Jam was a treat. There was quite a funny moment too when everyone realised they didn't quite know how to end the song! Then, just when you started to worry it was all over, along came All I Want Is You - a beautiful, intoxicating song that ended reminiscent of the old days, 40-style. Larry even signed off promising we'll see you soon. I truly hope so...
10.12.2006 : Site-seeing day, Maui
Our spirits were still high on the (private!) plane back to Maui after the concert but by the time we got to our hotel around 3am we were exhausted. But we didn't want to waste the next day, so we picked up a hire car in the morning and drove up to the remote parts of the island where we saw a gorgeous waterfall and several other breath-taking sights. The day ended on Maui's famous Front Street where we squeezed in a bit more shopping, dinner and, erm, more drinks.
11.12.2006 : Travel & relaxing day, Maui - Honolulu
The lunchtime flight from Maui back to Honolulu for the final time got us there in time for some last-minute sunbathing and later to catch a cab to the local enormo-mall to take final advantage of the extremely favourable GBP-USD exchange rate. But with a desperately early flight back to London the next morning (7.30am), we had to settle for a sensible early night.
12/13.12.2006 : Honolulu - London
Long, long, long, uneventful flight arriving in London at about 11.30am the next day (1.30am Hawaii time). Zzzzzz...
13.12.2006 : Home, London
Back to reality, and after being surrounded by palm trees and 82?F weather, I've been in denial about Christmas. Any presents will pale in comparison to my week in Hawaii. So that just leaves me to say many, many thanks to everyone at U2.com and Mercury Music group for giving me the trip of a lifetime! I'll never forget it.