|Date:||March 30, 2001|
This story, like so many of mine, begins in a similar vein. I was at a crossroads in my young life; living in Chattanooga, Tennessee with a girl I’d known since junior high. I didn’t particularly even like her… but I had a stable job (in insurance) for the first time in years and seemingly had a good thing going. But, deep down I knew the situation I’d found myself in wasn’t going to last for long. It was all going to come tumbling down… and I’d be the one swinging the wrecking ball. ;-)
My twin brother was living in Atlanta, and had been begging me to come live with him. You see, after our parents divorced a few years earlier, he moved to Georgia and found that this city was the best place to just… be yourself. I hadn’t seen him for a few months so with that in mind I set about trying to get away from my insane roommate/would-be-girlfriend for a weekend. Then it hit me… U2 was coming! I had never seen them live… and wasn’t even particularly a fan. But their most recent album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, had struck a nerve with me and I found myself listening to it daily. So there you have it, the plan was set and my scheme was off and running!
I bought some lower level tickets and rang my brother… He was ecstatic! “Come on down and we’ll make a weekend of it!” he said. After a bit of whining from the girlfriend (as I ‘d just spent over $100) and Mr. Snooty McBossman, I managed to get the Friday off work at short notice. You see, I’d been having trouble at work. And by trouble I mean I wasn’t conforming to the prescribed office practices. For example, one day my boss sent out an email to the team asking us to remove all our personal objects from our desks as some bigwigs were coming around the following morning. I failed to do this (on purpose) because my reasoning was that surely these upper-ups had personal items on their desks, so why should I remove mine? Things of this nature got me a “talking to” frequently. I'm sure the truth of it was that I just didn't like being told what to do... Ahh, youth. ;-) But we’ll come back to this later.
I drove down to the ATL first thing that Friday morning (it was March 30th). No sooner than I’d arrived in the city, and exited my vehicle, I found my brother yelling down at me from his 4th floor apartment window. He was packing up the last of his things, and moving out! This was something he (of course) failed to mention earlier. Well what was I to do? After all, we did have about 9 hours left to kill before the show. The only part of it that I vividly remember is tossing garbage bags full of his clothing straight down the gap in the stairwell of his building. If you can imagine, think of the scene in American Psycho where Christian Bale tosses the chainsaw down on his victim. Yeah, that was pretty much exactly how it happened. Don’t worry, I repeatedly yelled “Bombs away!” ;-)
Finally the time for the show arrived, and we set about walking from his apartment to Philips Arena, about a half mile away. I’d never seen a show at Philips before so didn’t know what to expect… The crowd was a little calmer than anticipated, but everyone in house hit 88 miles an hour once the band took stage and roared into “Elevation.” Now, as I said earlier, I wasn’t particularly a fan of the band but their latest record had made me think twice. There was no doubt the band that stood before me was not only polished, and had control of the crowd, but there was something else under the surface that couldn’t be seen. And once Bono kicked into a bizarre (but funny) rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” I knew this was a big time band that wasn't taking itself too seriously.
By the end of the show, Bono was out of breath, and I think everyone felt exhausted from the emotional expense of it all. The band came back with an encore of the Achtung Baby track “One” followed by “Walk On”… during the latter of which I believe everyone in the stadium had their arms raised in a kind of praise-the-Lord-Jesus sort of way. Yours truly included. I don’t think I’d ever raised my arms (aside from clapping) at a concert before, or since. That was the impact that show had on me. No reservations, no ego, no being self conscious about people around me. I remember thinking that it was a great moment, and I thought this at the time, not in that way that we often look back upon the past wearing rose tinted glasses.
So, show’s over. My brother and I left the stadium, bought a tour poster and tourbook and went home. I believe we ended the night listening to a track from Stevie Nicks’ upcoming album, as well as the song “Hopeless” from Train’s Drops of Jupiter. That “concert moment” we shared was enough to remind me of how much fun it was being around my brother, and provided the perfect excuse for me to leave Chattanooga. After all, he had just gotten a new apartment.
After returning to Chattanooga, I found myself in my boss’ office on Monday afternoon. He made it known to me that he knew I had taken the past Friday off to go to a concert. I can only guess that some co-workers mentioned it, and he overhead while making his Lumberg-like rounds about the place. I told him the truth, that I was at a concert, and that frankly it was none of his business. He went red from the neck up. I then told him in turn that what he did on his days off was none of my mine, either. I left his office feeling as though my remarks had come across as respectful as possible, but as if on cue, I received a call the next morning around 7am. "You are not to come back to Cigna.” was the news given to me. HA! You're joking? I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.
So, I guess you could say going to this concert was a kind of catalyst for me moving to Atlanta. And if I hadn’t moved, I never would’ve met MAB’s very own Dan Morris. And all this happened during one weekend in March, 10 years ago. Ten. Years. Phew! Time just gets away from us.