Looking back on it, it seemed doomed from the start. U2 in Minneapolis. The exact moment that I was awaiting credit card confirmation from Ticketmaster, our then 6 month old daughter rolled over and cut her head open on the bottom of her dresser. Marla was downstairs looking after laundry and I was supposedly “looking after” Audrey. It was a horrible looking gash, and I immediately felt sick to my stomach. Luckily, babies have some kind of amazing healing ability, not unlike Wolverine, and within a couple of days, there was only a little red mark, and a week or so later there was no sign of it at all. Little did I know that this was only the first step in a roller-coaster saga that would last almost two years.
Let me back up a little. The only reason I wanted to see U2 in Minneapolis is because we had just seen U2 in Toronto the month before. We had flown there, baby in tow, with the main goal of going to the concert and to have some visiting time with my wife’s relatives in September 2009. Although the concert itself was wonderful, our seats were the pits. We were about as high as you could be, and although it was fun to watch the CN Tower’s lights in sync with what was going on down below on stage, I felt that I didn’t have any advantage over the people on their condo balconies seeing and hearing the show for free. Sure, we heard a rare playing of “Your Blue Room”, but cold comfort. I didn’t want this to be my last impression of a U2 concert experience, and more importantly, I wanted Marla to experience a U2 concert “up close” the way I did in 1997 in Vancouver, when I was up against the rail of the B Stage and where during the encores I caught Adam’s attention and shouted “Adam, I LOVE you!” and he smiled back at me.I sort of had Marla convinced that if I was able to get GA tickets to Minneapolis, then somehow we would go, but if all I could get where in the stands, then forget it. Sure enough, I hit the jackpot with a couple of GA’s, and somehow completed the transaction with an injured baby in my arms. The date was set: June 27, 2010.
Or so we thought.
All winter, Marla fretted over leaving our daughter with my Mom or her parents. “She’ll only be just over a year”. We sat up one night and ran literally dozens of combinations of getting us to the concert. We could bring my Mom with us and she could stay with our daughter during the concert. We could just drive down and come back in the same night. Some of the scenarios didn’t even involve Marla, the main reason why I wanted to go. “You could just go down with one of your friends, or maybe meet one of your friends who live in Minneapolis”, she said. “But, but, what about you?” I stammered. We left it undecided with the idea that a solution would present itself in due course.
And it did, in the form of Bono’s unexpected back surgery. The Claw was already being set up in Salt Lake City for the first North American date in 2010 when we all got the news that Bono underwent emergency back surgery in Germany, resulting in the postponement of all the North American dates until some future time. During this period, I was having a recurring dream. Marla and I were parked in our Corolla on the edge of a cornfield on a beautiful, cloudless summer day at dusk. Audrey was fast asleep in her car seat in the back. Not too far away, the Claw could be seen clearly, apparently set up in the middle of this field. Before too long, we heard the opening notes of “Space Oddity” and we were treated to what seemed to be an exclusive night of the 360 tour. There may have been people up close, in fact I could hear the cheering, but sitting on the hood of our car, with the sound of crickets, the smell of earth and the unmistakable sound of the ALBUM version of “I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight” being played live, this could only be an exquisite dream, a dream that would replay in my dreams over and over again. Subconsciously, this is how I hoped U2 in Minneapolis would be, as strange as that sounds.
In the fall of 2010, the new dates were scheduled, with Minneapolis getting July 23, 2011. Perfect! We thought we’d leave Audrey with my Mom and head down for the weekend. A little shopping, restaurants, U2 show, possibly a Twins game. This was shaping up nicely. Then out of the blue, a Winnipeg date was added. Unbelievable! We had heard rumours that our stadium was too small to host the 360 stage, and indeed Winnipeg was one of the smallest venues on the entire tour. Our experiences at that show were detailed here.
Our final decision was that we’d take my Mom down to Minneapolis with us and she’d look after our daughter during the concert.
But then, in the past month, our daughter entered a funny stage. Kids have stages! Who knew? She’s become very, very active. She can’t sit still for more than a minute at a time, car rides longer than a half hour usually turn into a screamfest, and malls are met by a chorus of “No way, no way, no way, no way!” It kind of dawned on me all of a sudden. As G. M. Hopkins would say, “What the heart knew, ghost guessed.” Let’s recap what this weekend was going to be all about: a long car drive, restaurants, and shopping. None of these things are very pleasant at the moment with Audrey. We thought briefly about our original plan of leaving Audrey with my Mom, but there was still a reluctance on Marla’s part, “She’s only two!” and knowing how exhausted two people in their mid-30s are with her, it didn’t seem all that fair to saddle a 70-year-old with her for 4 whole days.
It was actually me who brought up the idea of not going to Marla. I felt like Tom Hanks’ character in Apollo 13 when the mission began to go sideways.I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got to my proposal, but in retrospect I should have guessed. “I’m so relieved”, said Marla. “I didn’t know how we were going to do it.” My Mom’s response? “Great! I can use those vacation days this fall when I drive to Sault Ste. Marie to pick out a puppy!”. They were both just wanting it to work for me, and it took me to finally come to the realization that the whole reason to go to this concert was satisfied by our experiences at the Winnipeg show. It doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed. No self-respecting U2 fan would willingly give up a chance to see them live. Live is where they live, after all. It’s as much a U2 fan’s duty to see them live as it is a Christian’s to take communion. Seriously. But I somehow feel less bad than I thought I would. I feel even better now that I know Carol and Joanna are able to use the tickets themselves. They were down in Minneapolis just in May on a quick turnaround to see Paul Simon, so I know they will have a great time. I know they will take lots of pics and I’m sure Joanna may even shoot a little video. I hope they play “The Fly” for Joanna, and “Magnificent” for Carol. They just better not play the album version of “I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight”. And for me? I have my cornfield dreams, my memories of six amazing concerts over the years, each one special in its own way, (I’m counting Minneapolis as a 7th with an asterisk!) And like every other U2 fan out there, I’m counting the days to the next single, the next album, the next tour. Each time we meet is a sort of homecoming. And Audrey? It’s just a moment, it too shall pass.