Lights of Home in Chicago
'Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.'
—from the poem 'Chicago' by Carl Sandburg
'Chicago, you are the most beautiful city in America! It's true. You know it's true!” The speaker is Bono and the audience, inside a packed-to-the-gills United Center in Chicago Tuesday night, knows he means every syllable.
'Turn your light on, Chicago! Show us your light!' he said during 'Lights of Home.'
Tuesday's show was the thirty-third the band has played in this heart-of-America town that has been amongst their most loyal and vocal boosters since their first gig here at the University of Chicago's International House on April 11, 1981.
For longtime Chicago fans, each time the band comes to town it feels like a real homecoming —four favorite (adopted Irish) sons, with whom we've shared a long, storied friendship, return to tell us stories, move our hearts and minds, and raise our spirits. We welcome them and with open arms, and they remind us of who we are, calling out the better angels of our nature.
'That city, shining on a hill,' Bono called it, during his introduction to 'City of Blinding Lights.'
'What a story you have to tell,' he told us as the band launched into 'Get Out Of Your Own Way'.
In this, the cultural capital of the Land of Lincoln, where the heartbeat is the rhythm of the blues and great social challenges have given birth to even greater art, lyrics from the new album —GOOYOW, American Soul, Blackout, Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way, 13 (There Is A Light)—held a particular poignancy when heard as words of encouragement from soul friends.
The promised land is there for those who need it most and Lincoln's ghost said, Get out of your own way…
It's not a place
This country is to me a sound …look around, it's a sound…
Alongside a great reception for the new songs, the band's classic material found new lifeblood and energy amidst the Chicago crowd. 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)' sounded as fresh and urgent as if it has been written last week, while Bono reminded the crowd, 'Tonight we dream with our eyes open, our hearts open, and our arms open to who stands across from us who has a different world view, a different sexuality, a different ethnicity, a different way of seeing the world. And our eyes are open even to those who stand in our way, the way we see the world…. And remember a reverend from Atlanta, fifty years ago, April 4. A shot rings out…'
Another highlight was the not-often-played-live 'Staring At The Sun' from the band's 'Pop' album performed on the E stage. 'We just felt the world was just becoing a better place, things looked good, we just wanted to chill out,' Bono said, describing 'Pop' as their 'psychedelic' album.
Before the band played the finale song of the encore, '13', closing the night with 'a lullaby and a prayer, for 'the safety of all your kids and our kids' Bono said he had a surprise to share.
'We found out today that the people who work here at the United Center wanted to be part of (RED)'s campaign to buy HIV/AIDS drugs for people who can't afford them. So, they raised amongst the workforce here a significant amount of money and the management here matched it. It's just great that people would do that.'
'You are great for us, always, this city and here at the United Center—very special for us,' he said.
Report by longtime Chicagoan and former Chicago Sun-Times writer Cathleen Falsani - who saw her first U2 show at the United Center seventeen years ago this month.