the joshua tree tour


Several months ago, when U2 announced their Joshua Tree tour, I knew I had to figure out how to get tickets.  The tickets actually weren't for me.  I like U2 a lot, but I wouldn't call myself a superfan; that said, their music certainly weaves in and out of the soundtrack of my youth.  However, I fully admit that I'm am a superfan of the lead singer, Bono -- he is one of the founders of The ONE Campaign, an organization whose mission is to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.  I've worked for several years with ONE, and have traveled with them several times to Africa to show the good work that is happening in various countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Malawi.  

But the tickets were actually for my daughter, Alex.  She's an avid guitarist, and The Edge is one of her guitar idols.  And I figured that if you're a 13-year-old guitarist, getting to watch one of your idols play might be a cool thing to do.  

I was afraid that tickets would sell out faster than I could get my hands on them, so I decided to see if a friend of mine, who works at ONE, could figure out a way to get me into a "back door" of some kind, so I could purchase tickets.  "I'm thrilled to pay for the nosebleed section," I told her.  "The seats don't have to be great.  I'd just like Alex to be in the same room as The Edge."

"I got you covered," said my friend.  "Leave it to me."

And man, she totally hooked us up.  Somehow Alex and I found ourselves on the floor right in front of the stage at the U2 concert here in Houston last night.

It was, unsurprisingly, an incredible show -- they sound as good as they ever did, and the songs hold up after all this time.  Alex plum lost her mind -- every now and then she'd turn to me with a huge grin, and start jumping up and down and clapping, especially if The Edge came anywhere near us.  And while I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I had a bit of an epiphany about Bono and the band while I watched them perform.

So as I mentioned, I've always liked U2's music, and I love Bono.  But I realized that I had always assumed Bono was primarily a musician -- a rock star, a singer -- who also happened to be an activist in his off-time.  Like, U2 and Bono were first and foremost about making music; the activism was just something that they did, because it was the right thing to do.  Sure, some of their music had activist overtones, but that wasn't the primary reason that they did what they did.  They were in the game because they wanted to create music.

But last night, it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps I was dead wrong.  That perhaps I had it backwards.

I've started to believe that really, Bono and U2 are full-on activists, who happen to use music as their medium.  Everything, from their lyrics, to the mind-blowing visuals behind them, to the messages that they shared between songs, was purposeful and intentional.  They talked about feminism.  They talked about the Syrian refugee crisis.  They shared statistics on the fight against HIV/AIDS.  They talked about love and hate and what it means to care for each other.

All this to say that the concert was amazing, not just because the music was great -- although it was, make no mistake -- but because at various points it felt like a movement.  Church.  A revival, maybe.  Even a bit like a TED talk with music -- and people didn't even know they were being taught.


Here are some of my favourite shots that I took last night.  (Incidentally, these were all shot with my little Sony point-and-shoot -- SLRs weren't allowed in the arena, so I put this little powerhouse of a camera through its paces.)

On the way home from the concert, Alex said, "Every time The Edge came near us, he got me shook."  I think that's a good thing.

On the way home from the concert, Alex said, "Every time The Edge came near us, he got me shook."  I think that's a good thing.

So huge thank you to the ONE Campaign for the amazing experience -- you created a memory of a lifetime or me, and even more importantly, for Alex.  And to all of you:  if you have a way to see this concert, seriously, make it happen -- especially if you happen to be a photographer or a cinematographer.  The visuals in this concert are insane.  And of course, please consider adding your voice and joining ONE by clicking here.  Your information remains confidential, and ONE never asks for your money, just your voice. 

There's no end to grief - that's how I know there's no end to love. That's what I'm holding on to.

- Bono, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, on the bombing in Manchester.