Out. Of. Control.

July 7, 2011 |  by  |  Show Recap, U2360 Tour

I got a few bottlerockets and firecrackers in Tim C.’s Alsip neighborhood on the south side of Chicago at a barbecue on the 4th of July. But on the 5th of July, I got fireworks.

It finally happened.

Out Of Control. Live. U2 played my favorite song. The one I’ve been wanting to hear on this tour for two years now. The one I’ve been carrying the same sign for to the last seven shows I’ve been to. The one I was beginning to think I’d never hear live as U2 started to settle into this leg’s setlist.

Tim C., a lifetime Southsider and a man fiercely infatuated with and devoted to his city, has been talking up the event that is *U2 in Chicago* since I met him. So, when the 2010 tour dates were announced, I did the logical thing for a girl from north Florida to do and bought a ticket to the Chicago show. I wasn’t totally convinced I’d go, but I wanted to have a ticket in hand in case things worked out. And after a long year and a half, they did.

My ultimate souvenir: the setlist from the 2011 Chicago show, documenting my first time hearing Out Of Control live.

Having heard about the GA debacle of opening night in Chicago in 2009 from pretty much everyone who experienced it, I was apprehensive about the line-up. Tim and I drove from Nashville July 3, the day after the spectacular show there, straight to Soldier Field to get our numbers — 33 and 34 — with instructions to be back at the venue for roll call at 4:30 a.m. July 5, the day of the show. Google says that trip should take eight hours. Tim C’s Buick made it in six and a half. I’m a little appalled at the line starting two days before the show, and have mixed feelings about contributing to it by going and getting my number (Don’t become a monster to defeat a monster, right?), but lately that’s what it takes. I think it’s going to get uglier, earlier and more absurd before the tour ends.

But, the line-up went really well, aside from the notorious group of six line-cutters who refused to budge despite an organized line of more than 300 people already in place just before 6 a.m. (Read about it in the @U2 forum here.) After some initial ire, I settled down, realizing that six people ultimately aren’t going to affect my spot and my enjoyment of the show. But, as became the mantra of so many of us in line, “It’s the principle.” Otherwise, it was a gorgeous, sunny day outside Soldier Field. As the day started to heat up, security moved much of the line into the venue, where we lined the inner walls of the stadium under shelter and shade. The 12 hours passed quicker than ever, and U2’s security worked with event security to get us calmly down to the field. Once past the last sentry of staffers telling us, “No running, no running,” Tim C. and I sprinted for our sweet spot on the outer rail, right in the middle.

I braved the growing crowd to grab some waters (which would come in handy later) and a Polish (the “right” way, with grilled onions and mustard) and made my way back to our center spot on the outer rail. We were excited when Tim C.’s friend Kevin and his girlfriend, Linda, ended up just a few people behind us.

I was bored with opening act Interpol. Well, I paid attention for the eight minutes it took me to pinpoint who lead singer Paul Banks looked like. At first, I thought he looked like Ewan McGregor had a baby with a young David Bowie, then I decided it’s like Ewan McGregor just had a baby with himself. During the one song I recognized (Evil), I turned to Tim C. and asked, “Is this the puppet song?” and he nodded. “Cool,” I said. They’re hipster and pretty and sound good, but they just don’t click with me. Maybe after the three more times I see them in concert, they will.

People were dropping like flies in the pit, which confused me because Chicago was one of the milder shows I’ve done, after a sweltering night in Nashville and an infernal night in Baltimore. Chicago had the breeze from the lake; it was almost pleasant. But, every once in a while you’d see an open spot on the floor as someone dropped to the ground. Security would flag down the medics, who came and plucked a few of the people out. Several were near us, and no one was getting water fast enough, so we volunteered one of our spare bottles, which Tim C. always smartly insists on buying as soon as we get down to our spots.

I detached from the cell phone and the camera during Out Of Control, but did sneak in one photo at the end.

I was going to try to stream audio from the concert, but the network was crushed under the weight of 65,000-plus fans and their cell phones. (See what we looked like from above here.) I fumbled with the TwitCast for a few songs and finally surrendered, knowing I needed to just focus on taking in what I could feel in my bones was going to be a special show. They opened with the usual: Even Better Than the Real Thing, into The Fly, and then Bono spent a lot of time out on the catwalk during Mysterious Ways (including a Trying To Throw Your Arms Around the World snippet!) and Until the End of the World. I feverishly flashed my “U2 IS OUT OF CONTROL” sign at him every time he passed, and think at one point I caught a knowing smirk. Because then it happened. He took his place back at the front of the stage, and at the point in the setlist where I’d gotten so used to hearing I Will Follow, I heard something different, but something so familiar. I hesitated, not wanting to be wrong because both songs have a similar, racing intro, but as Larry pounded that opening beat, I looked at Tim C. in wide-eyed disbelief and when I saw his own look of astonishment, I knew I was really hearing it. The crowd exploded. I exploded. I was euphoric. I was out of body. I was out of control. I screamed, I waved, I jumped, I sang. My heart soared. Bono switched up the lyrics, as he likes to do, changing the chorus to “You got spirit, we got soul, we got some big ideas, we’re outta control,” and splashed bottles of water on the pit beneath him. Then he started speechifying in between verses.

“So, this song was our first single. The day — maybe not the day — the week I joined my band of brothers is the week I met my true love, who’s here tonight. It’s been a wild ride — out of control, you might say! Out of control! Out of controooo-oollllll!”

I’ve never been so happy for a man to be in love with another woman. That’s part of the draw with Bono — his unfaltering devotion to his mate and his mates. It’s so very un-rock-and-roll to not have the petty in-fighting with your band members or the scandalous infidelity with your wife. That’s what makes them even bigger and better rock stars.

While both my night and my life were complete after hearing Out Of Control, there were other highlights (see the full setlist here), including seeing the four boys huddle around Larry’s drumset, facing each other and playing for themselves during the end of The Fly; a powerful crowd singalong on I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For; the Beautiful Day video opener with astronaut Mark Kelly, which, no matter how many times I see it, gives me chills as he floats the lyrics in outer space; an especially jumpy Bono front and center on the catwalk during much of Elevation; catching Bono’s heart as he repeatedly throws it out to the crowd during Pride, and throwing ours back to him, then continuing our shouts of “oh oh oh oh” long after he finished the song; hearing Bono belt out “l’amooooooore” on the bridge during Miss Sarajevo; his peppy insertion of My Kind of Town after City of Blinding LIghts; a stadium-shaking performance of Streets, during which a light rain started to fall and these otherworldly-looking, extraterrestial lotus umbrellas popped up over the boys’ equipment. And then, of course, the big thing that happened: One. Tree. Hill.

As Bono’s getting ready to talk us into Moment of Surrender, he mentions Greg Carroll, his former personal assistant who died this week in 1986, and for whom he wrote One Tree Hill on 1987’s The Joshua Tree. The song gets played regularly in Australia and New Zealand, Carroll’s home, but hasn’t been played in the States since The Joshua Tree tour in 1987. Bono said, “25 years ago, we lost a really great friend. His name is Greg Carroll and we wrote a song for him … which we’re not going to play for you now.” After a resounding, dejected response from the audience, Bono smiled nervously and said, “Well, we might.”

He went over and whispered with Edge then said to the techs, “You guys work on it downstairs and we’ll play Moment of Surrender while you figure it out.”

After a beautiful performance of the usual finale, which we all, honestly, couldn’t wait for Bono to finish, they started to earnestly fumble their way into One Tree Hill. We could hear Edge ask, “How’s it start?” as his sound tech, Dallas, helped him with the chords. Bono joked, “Edge looks real confident.” “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” was the guitar player’s reply.

And that’s when the four men behind the world’s biggest rock show ever turned back into the four teenage Dublin boys who started a band in Larry’s parents’ kitchen. They forwent the presentation and polish that has helped make the 360 Tour such a huge success, and they made themselves vulnerable to a crowd of 65,000 people to deliver a meaningful moment.

“OK, here’s the deal,” Bono said. “If we screw it up really badly, you don’t put it on the Internet.”

Too late, Bono. I was streaming (Wi-Fi to the rescue). But you nailed it, like everyone there knew you would.

I still have goosebumps on my arm and a lump in my throat at the sound of him singing, “And when it’s raining, raining hard, that’s when the rain will take my heart.” Tim C.’s friend from high school, Kevin, who credits Tim for introducing him to U2 via a borrowed t-shirt to avoid a school suspension one day (long story, ask them), wrote Bono a note on the lid of his styrofoam cooler: “Surprise Us!” And they did. I think they surprised themselves, too. See the video below from Mark Baker, aka U2BROTHR, aka Mirror Ball Man 2.0, who I was happy to get to meet for just a few minutes in the GA line.

To end an already perfect evening, the camera guy who planted himself right in front of us for most of the encore turned around right before he went to move and handed a setlist to Tim C. Tim, knowing this was the only night of the tour I would actually care about a setlist, then handed it to me.

Thanks for being right about Chicago, Tim C.


  1. You make ME want to be a U2 fan. Your posts give me chills and make me feel like I was there and was experiencing the excitement. Thanks!

  2. What a great post! I totally relived the show in my head. I also read that whole thread at @U2.com :-/ Damn it though. I had just recently managed to get “L’amooouuurrr” out of my head and now it’s back. I’ll be walking around for goodness knows how long again belting it out randomly. I blame you 😉

  3. Hey Beth I’m @flankerlady7 on twitter

    One Tree Hill was only played in NZ on the last 2 tours.

    It’s a place in Auckland, NZ. It used to be called One Tree Hill for the obvious, that was until some Maori Activists chopped it down in 1994.

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