Friday, December 6, 2019

U2 and a Metamorphosis of Japan

I witnessed something special last night and, for this, it's worth emerging from self-imposed hibernation (though winter is coming (sorry, just had to do that) and as for daylight, there may only be a brief encounter (I am on fire!)). So what happened. Well, it all started around 5.30AM when my friends daughter fell ill (hopefully she'll be up and running in no time) and, as a result, I inherited a ticket to see U2 at Saitama Super Arena, some forty-five minutes from central Tokyo (which is actually less time than it takes to arrive at the Tokyo Dome which is curiously within a healthy walking distance). 

Twenty-five years have elapsed since I last saw U2 in Japan (actually, at said Tokyo Dome) and, having heard from everyone (and his dog) in those days, that they were the best live band in the world (and remembering this was pre-LiveAid when they became global superstars in a single twenty minute set) I was somewhat deflated as the show lasted a little shy of what seemed like and hour and a half and the band walked off during a video of Lou Reed singing "Satellite of Love" never to be seen again. No encore or "good night". Twenty-five years later and some two and a half hours later, the memory of 1994 had been erased by one of the greatest live shows on earth. 

But that isn't the reason I've arisen from my winter slumber. The reason is the audience. In 1994 Bono couldn't connect with the crowd. Each time he'd reach out there would be a distinct turning of heads to the person adjacent and whispering of "nani?" colloquially translated as "what's he talking about?" And then, in part, cometh the internet, Instagram, Social Media, Line and etc. Flash forward to December 2019 and not only were the band on fire, but so was the stadium. And it wasn't just the smartphone lights and the non-stop deafening audible backing track, it was the reaction and response to a great frontman, drummer, sonic engineer (if you haven't yet, watch "It Might Get Loud") and bassist, leading them on. Every single person reacted and responded. And that didn't happen in 1994. Last night I saw how far Japan has changed in the span of twenty-five years. And wow, has it changed.

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