By Sunday we had the drill down. We showed up early, got wristbands (high numbers but not too bad for our favorite spot in the back), went home to chill, then came back to get into the pen. We decided to slow our roll and not show up to the pen super early, instead giving others a chance to get prime rail spots.
I had explained to Nia that these show days were all day events really because of the chance to geek out with other fans in ways that real life doesn’t afford. We met up with Jeff again and got to trade dorky comments about U2 albums and other mundane facts. At one point, a staff member handed out bottles of water sent to us from the band, a good sign that they were likely to stop by (as well as an extremely considerate and gracious gesture). But as the day wore on, the pen overflowed out onto the sidewalk and any chance of seeing them up close again shrank with each passing moment and added fan. The venue simply didn’t have enough guard rails in the area to barricade us off, and we began to recognize that no bodyguard worth his salt would allow a client into such an uncontrolled environment. Eventually we peeled off and went to join the GA line.
Once inside the arena, we took up our favorite spot toward the back of the B-stage once again and were fortunate enough to land next to a pair of friends named Nathan and Mitch. We got along instantly, and did the usual exchange of swapping stories of favorite shows and favorite songs. We tried not to lead off with my experience on stage, but found that toward the end of nearly every conversation that we had managed to end up there anyway. Nathan and Mitch were very excited to hear about it and very sweet.
We also met Judy in the row behind us, a fan since the Joshua Tree tour who’s still not too fond of “Bullet the Blue Sky” (she uses that song as a cue for a bathroom break). She recognized me from a few nights earlier when she had been in the seats and was excited to see me again. She alluded to the possibility of Bono seeing me again and inviting me back on stage (and she wasn’t the first person to do so). Whenever someone posited that theory, I politely declined the possibility, knowing it to be someone else’s turn.
Unfortunately, that was also our first encounter with a belligerent attendee. A woman behind us felt the need to be aggressive and inconsiderate, trying to push her way around us to the front of the rail. Sharing rail space is different, but when we were already pressed together, to force one’s way onto the rail is rude and bad etiquette. When she started picking on Nia and taking advantage of her natural “no conflict” disposition, I jumped into action. I tried to remember Bono’s message of surrender, but I also was torn with the desire to stand up for myself and for my sister. When she pushed, I pushed back until security eventually forced her to behave.
I only bring up this negative event in order to show how it was sublimated into a positive one later on, similar to how the bad luck of Nia’s arrival day somehow yielded the magic of the evening beyond anything I had ever imagined. Our neighbor Mitch commented on what the ordeal with the woman behind us revealed about us—that Nia was the gracious, no-conflict, surrender type while I was more of the decisive and direct protector.
The show continued in its usual fashion, and the excitement and positivity of the evening washed away any lingering traces of negativity. Once again, Bono locked eyes with us during “Until the End of the World” and smiled. When the boys launched into “Mysterious Ways,” Nia and I held our breaths. Although neither of us said it to the other directly, it was becoming clear that we were hoping to be noticed again and for something magical to happen. I wanted it to be Nia’s turn, and during the previous night I had had the strangest certainty that Bono also wanted to give her a turn.
Bono started circling the stage, fingers out, as if looking for someone to bring on stage. At first I thought he stopped and found someone, but he kept going, then, finally, he rounded back to our side of the stage and pointed directly at Nia, waving her up. We were stunned and I started screaming. For a moment neither of us moved while Bono shouted “Come on! Come on!” in time with the beat.
Behind us, the belligerent woman launched herself forward as if in response to his call. But Edge’s bodyguard met us at the rail, picked Nia straight up and set her back on the ground in front of the staircase. She took Bono’s hand and raised her fist in triumph. Together they grooved to the end of the song.
(Video of Nia getting invited on stage, cued up to about 3:40 where you can see Bono start *looking for her!*)
When “Mysterious Ways” finished, Bono handed her the iPhone to do the Meerkat stream and I lost myself in shouting. “THANK YOU BONO! I LOVE YOU NIA!” was my refrain for a good couple minutes before I regained my head. I was so happy that I would get to share this experience with her, and not be the only one to hold onto it. Once again the band played “Angel of Harlem” — a song that they only played for me and Nia during their time in LA, and Nia did her thing.
(video that I took of Nia on stage, it straightens up after about 5 seconds)
When it was all over, Bono gestured to the bodyguards to escort Nia back to her spot. With the belligerent woman still on the rail, I made sure to clear a wide spot so that she could land safely. We hugged and watched the rest of the show in that same familiar sweet daze.
Mitch was kind and said that he felt blessed to have shared the show with us that evening. He reiterated a point he had made previously in the evening, about how Bono must have picked up on our energy and been drawn to us from the beginning. It’s as good a theory as any. As a performer, Bono has likely grown very skilled at picking up on positive and negative cues, who he can trust and who he should be wary of, and it’s comforting to hear that he was drawn to us on some level because we stand out in his mind. This may not be the most humble thing to admit, but it’s always nice to recognize when someone likes you just for the simple fact of you being you.