Monthly Archives: July 2017

U2 with The Lumineers

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

Seeing U2 live is always an experience. My friend Kim is a superfan, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a U2 show without her. She organized a tailgate and we got to Gillette early to meet up with some other fans and beat the traffic. We got to hear soundcheck from the parking lot, too, and fans were pumped. My friends Aimsel and Colin did the GA thing, and we stopped by to say hello to them, as well. Kim and I did GA back in 2011 in Montreal, and well it was well worth it to be a few rows from the stage. However, it makes for an exhausting experience, especially standing outside for all of those hours in the middle of the day in the summer. Turns out, I was jealous later when I saw their pictures, so I’ll have to reconsider my position on GA next time U2 tours. You can check out Aimsel’s show recap and pictures from the GA section here.

The Lumineers are excellent live, and I was really excited that they were opening the show. I saw them last summer at Thompson’s Point in Portland, and they put on a fantastic show. I loved hearing “Ophelia,” “Ho Hey,” and “Stubborn Love” again in person. I bet they had a blast playing for such a massive crowd, too.

U2 took the stage and brought their A game. They opened with a mini set of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Bad,” and “Pride” before playing their entire 1987 Joshua Tree album from start to finish. It was incredible to hear The Joshua Tree all the way through. Those songs are the soundtrack to so many lives, and it’s hard to believe the album came out 30 years ago. I feel lucky I got to be there. Also, “Where The Streets Have No Name” is definitely my favorite live U2 song, and it was exhilarating to enjoy it with 60,000+ other fans.

U2 always creates a phenomenal concert experience, and this night was no different. Their stage design was incredible, with the extension stage in the shape of a joshua tree. They projected stunning videos all night on a 200-foot long 45-foot-high LED screen. Also, it always feels a bit like worshipping at the Church of Bono, as I like to call it, and it’s always interesting to hear what global issues Bono will talk about. He dedicated “One Tree Hill” to Boston Marathon Bombing victim Martin Richard and told us that his family was in the audience. He said “there is no end to grief, and that’s how we know there’s no end to love.” He gave a shout out to John Kerry for his early support of HIV/AIDS research and told us that millions of people are now living long lives despite HIV/AIDS. They did a whole video montage about great women and promoted women’s equality. Finally, during “Miss Sarajevo,” we watched a video of of young woman in Syria who dreamed of making it to America someday and passed an enormous sheet with her face on it around the stadium. Bono sure knows how to use his platform to stir up emotion and affect change.

They turned up the energy for “Beautiful Day,” “Elevation,” and “Vertigo,” and closed the night with “One.” Since Boston is their favorite American city, they also treated us to “The Little Things That Give You Away,” from their forthcoming album, Songs of Experience. It’s always a treat to see U2 live. They’re nothing quite like singing along with 60,000+ other fans and worshipping at the Church of Bono.




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Friday, June 23, 2017

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Once in a great while, a night is absolutely perfect.

I LOVE Johnnyswim, who are husband and wife duo Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano. They are beautiful together. I put off writing this show review because I was busy listening to all of their recorded music on repeat. By putting it to “paper” (as it were), it means the experience is over, too, which is a little sad. I wish we could do it over again.

Their show was on my last day of school and I was THRILLED. It was a tough teaching year. I grabbed celebratory drinks with my friends Jan and Fiona and then scooted down to Portland to get up close for my first ever Johnnyswim show. They were scheduled to come in March and play at Port City Music Hall, but due to scheduling issues, they postponed the show and moved it to the State Theatre. I think the State might have been at half capacity, which was a delight. The pressure of having to stake out a spot and never move from it for fear of losing it was gone. It was so, so nice to have an easy concert experience. I ended up in the front row with a small group of Johnnyswim superfans–two married couples–who were close friends but lived states apart. They’d come up from Connecticut and Massachusetts to enjoy kid-free weekends. They were psyched. It was adorable. We mingled and then met another couple who were visiting overnight from New Hampshire and were also excited to be kid-free for the night. If we’d just had someone from Vermont, we would have represented all of New England. They partied hard, and were a riot to take in a show with. It was great for me as a mostly solo show goer, too, because I felt like I was with a gaggle of good friends.

Johnnyswim’s guitarist (whose name I didn’t catch, but who goes solo by the name Sunbears) took the stage and played a handful of songs. He was warm and chatted a bit with the audience. Abner and Amanda joined him on stage for their set, but there was no other band. Since I was with superfans, I learned that there is often a touring band that includes a drummer. I prefer acoustic music, so I was thrilled to have a more intimate concert experience.


Sunbears played a brief opening set

I love that Abner and Amanda have an obvious adoration for one another. It was a delight to watch them throughout the night. They were also incredibly warm and interactive with the audience, which is what a concert experience should definitely be. They went as far as climbing over the edge of the stage a few times to shake hands with the folks in the front row, borrowing an audience member’s cell phone to take a video for them, and playing a song unplugged from the middle of the room while we provided spotlights with our phones. Abner also offered a lovely toast to the crowd, observing that “the force that binds us together is much stronger than all the forces that try to tear us apart.” These are the moments that turn a concert into a concert experience.

img_2928img_2954img_3014img_2989img_2993img_2996Beyond their impeccable showmanship, Johnnyswim are talented musicians and beautiful songwriters. Take “Rescue You,” for example. They sing, “My love can’t rescue you/Can’t make your mountains move/Won’t make your desert bloom/The way you want it to/My love can’t heal the scars/You carved on your own heart.” In “Drunks,” I wanna learn what David played/When he found himself alone/Let it ring, let it ring/On every street and stage/Till the loneliest feel known.” These are songs that will do your heart good.

img_3009img_2947img_2983“Live While We’re Young” and “Diamonds,” are anthemic and will also help fix what ails you. I loved hearing them in person. “First Try,” “Georgica Pond,” and “Take The World” are all tender, heartfelt songs that will hit you squarely in the feels. I can’t pick a favorite song, but there’s a short list. I also laughed a lot during the night, especially when they sampled R. Kelly’s “Ignition” adjacent to their cover of “On the Road Again” during their encore. Seeing them live was a ride and I felt all the feelings. It was bliss. Thank you so much for coming to Maine, Johnnyswim. Come back soon!




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