Tuesday, June 2, 2015
U2-ie 2015 LA Forum
U2ie (not the abbreviation for Ireland...or is it?), but the abbreviation for the Innocence-Experience Tour. I'll be blogging on the recent show I attended on May 27, in Inglewood, CA at the L.A. Forum. I'll take my time and share one song at a time. The concert begins. No warm up band. This is U2's Story. The stage is traditional on the one end, attached to a very long runway with a HUGE 2-sided screen that hangs over the runway. The long runway connects to a mini, pod-shaped stage at the other end. While the band sings certain songs, there is either animation or actual home video or pictures of home life while Bono and the lads are young that are shown. It was the most intimate and transparent of all the U2 shows I've seen. What made this show even more unique was the passing away of U2's long-time tour manager, Dennis Sheehan, the morning of the Show. Saddleback Church pastor and author Rick Warren described Dennis as "a calm and kind Christian man." I wondered throughout the day as I prayed for the guys: how would they be affected? I figured they'd either be flat...or flat-out crazy! Uh...they were not flat (I learned later that Rick Warren had been called in by U2 just before the show, to counsel with them, read Scripture to them and pray for them). So afterward, it all made sense. They were flat-out crazy this night! Bono told Warren: "We choose joy." These reflections are my own. I have never met Bono, so I don't know whether these reflections would fit with what he the rest of U2 may think. However, I have read a lot of Bono's own words and have read some great books chronicling their faith in Christ. I have also poured over the lyrics of their songs, blogging on many of them. "For those who have ears to hear..." Bono walks out singing "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). Right from the start I can tell that there is a special "energy" among U2 this night. Mystery is Present and The Spirit Moves in Mysterious Ways... I find it interesting that even the title of the first song reveals some mystery. It's called, simply, "The Miracle." Then, in parentheses, "(of Joey Ramone)." So, on one level, it is a tribute to Joey Ramone of the Ramones. Bono heard Ramone's voice and listened to his lyrics and something wonderful happened inside of him. Bono and the lads of U2 snuck into a Ramones concert and Bono was greatly encouraged by what he heard. But on another level, a level similar to the hidden meanings of the parables of Christ (another illustration Bono has used for his lyrics), the song speaks to me about The Miracle of Grace. I remember reading on several occasions where Bono says "U2 must be smart" about their faith in Christ. He once compared U2's approach to the early Christian church's symbol of the fish (IXTHUS). The Greek word for "fish" is used as an acrostic--IXTHUS=Jesus Christ God's Son Savior. A fish was often traced out on the sand or dirt by believers to reveal their faith, yet done in order to be smart and subtle. One person would trace the upper half of the fish symbol...and if the other person noticed it (and they would notice it if they were looking for it!) they would complete the other half. As a result, they would be able to engage in conversations about the Savior. Bono has said that U2 just sort of draw their fish in the sand. It's there for those who have eyes to see. For those who don't, they just enjoy the music at a different level. Hear are some of the key lyrics to me: I woke up at the moment When the miracle occurred Heard a song that made some sense Out of the world Everything I ever lost Now has been returned In the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. Sure, on one level this is about a young Bono resonating with the gifted artistry and power of Joey Ramone. Some say the lyrics refer to the Sirens' Song of Greek mythology and their power to entrance. But on another level, Bono is constantly singing about the "Song" and miracle of Grace. There are beautifully redemptive lyrics here: a song that made some sense out of the world. I couldn't help but wonder, that as Bono processed Dennis's death, whether these words took on even more depth..."I heard a song that made some sense out of the world." The Song of Grace for the Christ-follower can even make some sense out of death. Death for the Christian is not final, but has been overcome by Christ...."the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard." In other songs, U2 sings of "the sound" of grace, of the Gospel. Also, when one is "born again" in Christ, Scripture calls it The Miracle of the new birth. It is a "waking up" from the dead. I couldn't help but reflect upon my own conversion, "when the miracle occurred," and I "heard a song that made some sense out of the world." Then the beautifully redemptive lyrics that even remind me of the hymn, Amazing Grace: "Everything I ever lost, now has been returned." I once was lost...but I have been found. All that has been broken by the Fall is now being redeemed by grace. Near the end of the song Bono sings, "I get so many things I don't deserve." That. Is. Grace.