As I’m sure you all know, Saturday’s U2 concert in Berlin, the second of two consecutive shows in that city, was cancelled after just five songs due to the fact that Bono lost his voice. Unfortunately, I was at work at the time and was unable to tune in to the show on Mixlr, but I kept up to date on Facebook with what was going on. I have to confess, it was pretty frightening to be reading those accounts of what was happening but to not know what was really going on. I’m sure that it was equally troubling for the band members, especially Bono, who seemed flummoxed and unsure what to do. He tried desperately to sing through “Red Flag Day” and then “Beautiful Day” but the voice just wasn’t there. It was also heartbreaking to think of all those fans who had bought tickets and waited anxiously for the concert to have it ripped out from under them like that. I’m not blaming the band, or anyone, really…it couldn’t be helped, and it was certainly no one’s fault. Stuff happens, sadly. Today, it seems that Bono has seen a doctor and that he’s going to be OK (thank goodness!) and that the band will revisit Berlin in November, after what would have otherwise been the last show of the tour. What is unclear is when the tour will resume. On U2’s official Facebook page, all of the shows between now and September twentieth are no longer listed. I suppose that this could simply be a coincidence, but it could also mean that the next couple of weeks’ worth of shows have been cancelled or postponed. I guess we will know when Tuesday rolls around…if U2 plays Cologne and everything goes as it should, then things are back to normal. If not, then Bono might need a couple of weeks to recuperate from whatever caused the problem in the first place. Either way, it seems that at some point, the tour will continue…it’s just not clear when. At any rate, here’s hoping that Bono truly is on the mend. I’m grateful, especially for all of those European fans who have concerts coming up, that it seems that the problem wasn’t more serious.
All of this trouble around Bono’s voice has got me thinking of one of my favorite concerts that U2 has ever put on, 1997’s show from Sarajevo. If you will recall, Bono lost his voice that night too, and was barely able to croak out the words to the songs. I wonder if the band would have postponed that show as well if there hadn’t been so many special circumstances and so much planning and hard work that went into allowing that concert to take place at all. As it was, though, the audience stepped up and helped Bono and the rest of the band through the night. It was pure transcendent magic. During his spoken introduction to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono called on the crowd for assistance. “My voice is gone, but your voices are strong. I ask you to carry me like you carried each other in those weeks, months, and years, and sing with me this song.” Saturday’s vocal problem was a little more serious, as it sounds like Bono wasn’t able to sing at all (he could barely even talk), but even for those two songs, when the Berlin crowd sang their hearts out in support of our favorite front-man, it demonstrated how important the audience is to the success of any concert, and reminded me that we are all in this together, fans and band alike.