Why we love U2 concerts

08Oct09
U2 at Fedex Field

U2 at Fedex Field

I want to take a brief hiatus from my current line of thought about melody structure and hymns to say this: I went to see U2 last Tuesday night at Fedex Field.  It was my first time at a concert of this magnitude.  I’m not going to review the concert here.  Click the image above for a link to the Washington Post’s review.  Suffice it to say, it was colossal in scope and execution.

But I do want to offer an opinion about what makes U2 concerts so enjoyable to so many people.  Really, it’s just an anecdotal suggestion, take it or leave it.

U2 has a few things going for them: they have been producing popular music for 30 years, everyone knows at least the choruses to most of their hits, and Bono knows how to get people singing.  Moreover, U2 knows how to shut up when people are singing so the crowd can hear itself.  So when you go to a U2 concert, you not only get to hear a rock band playing really loudly for tens of thousands of people; you also get to hear tens of thousands of people singing/yelling at the top of their lungs in unison! Now that is amazing.

Last week I got to hear 80,000 people singing “I believe in the Kingdom Come, Then all the colors will bleed into one, Bleed into one, But yes I’m still running.  You broke the bonds, And you loosed the chains, Carried the cross, Of my shame, Oh my shame, You know I believe it.”

And, honestly, in my opinion, that is WAY cooler than hearing U2 or any rock band perform.  In fact, I believe there  is something powerfully transcendent about corporate singing, especially when it’s in unison with so many people, regardless of what you’re singing.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that a U2 concert is some sort of “ultimate spiritual experience,” although many people do have what they call spiritual experiences at U2 shows.  If anything, the show last week left me feeling a bit hollow, longing for what one day will be–innumerable Saints and angels lifting their voices in louder song to the LORD of Hosts.

But I think God designed us to sing together, and often when we do, something deep inside of us resonates.  And I hypothesize that one of the reasons (and there are many others) why U2 is so popular is because they harness and utilize the power of corporate singing at their shows.

It’s almost as cool as being at church.  Almost.  Check the video below for a good example of U2 using the audience’s voices as an instrument.

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One Response to “Why we love U2 concerts”

  1. Yes, my favorite moments from the Dallas show were when they let the crowd sing.


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