My wife, Julie, had the greatest concert experience of her life Saturday night. She drove to Chicago with some friends to see U2 kick off its North American tour, and since she got back this afternoon, she’s been talking non-stop about what a great time she had.
She gave me the play-by-play of her trip while we ate dinner. She showed me the pictures she took on her camera. She made me watch the YouTube videos (crappy sound quality and all). She swooned over Bono.
We saw U2 about a decade ago at the Georgia Dome during the disastrous Pop Mart tour, and since I’m not a big U2 guy, I was just fine skipping this show. Julie, though, made me relive it.
“It was 100 times better than the show in Atlanta,” she texted me minutes after the last notes evaporated into the night.
“It was the best concert ever,” she exclaimed the next day, as I wiped the pizza sauce off my face.
“Don’t you wish you were there?” she taunted (though she knows I don’t really care).
It brought me back to the favorite concert I’ve ever seen. I’ve experienced some great acts – Ben Harper four times in high school and college; Mike Patton close to a half-dozen times; a Bad Religion show where the band played EVERY song I wanted*; Tool, an eight-hour roundtrip ride from Philly to New Haven to see Sparta; etc.
*This is a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before and I haven’t experienced since.
But the best show I ever saw was Pink Floyd in 1994 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on the Division Bell tour, the last tour the band will ever play (I don’t think any YouTube videos exist, but strangely, there are numerous clips from the band’s 1987 stop at the now-defunct Omni). The stage show … incredible. The vibe in the audience … awesome. The sound from the band … pretty good. The entire experience … best-ever.
I remember thinking at the time that this was the best show I had ever seen, and that was true. It was only the second true rock concert I’d ever witnessed (Aerosmith was show No. 1 in 1993, though before that, I was supposed to hit a Coverdale/Page concert that eventually was canceled (I still remember how devastated I was when I heard that show was kaput because of poor ticket sales)). I also remember thinking Pink Floyd (minus, of course, Roger Waters) was the best show I’d probably ever see. And that’s true. At least I think.
I really wish I could have found some YouTube clips from the show at Bobby Dodd, just so I could confirm what I’ve built up in my mind the past 15 years. That apparently is not possible. But I do know this. The stage show was incredible, but the vibe in the audience was mediocre (the crowd was decidedly uninterested when the band played its new music, though the fans turned themselves around when Pink Floyd played the hits in the second act). The sound wasn’t really the best I’d ever heard either.
But overall, that show – when I was 15 years old and a freshman in high school – was the highlight of my concert-going experience, and I don’t think anything will ever live up to it. Listening to Julie describe her experience, I was a little jealous, because I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way for another show. It’s not the Pink Floyd show that was so great. It’s the memory of the Pink Floyd show that was so great.
Maybe I peaked too soon.