They move in mysterious ways

Updated: Dec 22, 2019, 08:14 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

Mumbai's energy at a rock show is infectious, hard to match - but you also meet specific groups of people at every concert


Only five people saw both, U2's Joshua Tree concert in Singapore on December 1 and in Mumbai on December 15—Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr and I.

I was asked, "Dude, why fly all the way there when you could have waited two weeks for the Mumbai gig?"

Two reasons.

1. I bought my Singapore ticket before the Mumbai show was announced.

2. Living in SoBo, The National Stadium, Singapore, is a tad faster to get to than DY Patil, Navi Mumbai.

I was asked: "You like U2 so much that you saw them twice?"

"Yeah," I said, "Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are both in my top 10 albums of all-time list—Joshua's melodic aridity and Achtung's alternative industrial sound. Two vastly different musical styles—Bono's soap boxing was occasionally OTT, but his lyrics, the political underlay, the melodic hooks, the ability to experiment with different genres, deep ballads combined with danceable tracks, songs that are vast wastelands and claustrophobic short stories, anthems about abuse, a quartet that has approached every decade with renewed vigour. U2 has milestoned my musical landscape."

I was asked, "How do you compare the two gigs?"

Okay, in Singapore they served Tiger Beer, in Mumbai, Appy Fizz.

Besides that, Mumbai's energy at a rock show is infectious, hard to match—but you also meet specific groups of people at every concert.

1. The Audio Experts who say things like "See, the U2 engineers don't really understand the balancing of sound—they should have angled the speakers differently, the stage should have been higher" or "I don't think Bono was pitching his voice correctly, he should drop his jaw and open his throat more."

2. The Armchair Songwriters who claim dismissively, "U2 aren't in the same ballpark as Lennon-McCartney or Bob Dylan as songwriters. (I'd like to tell these maestros—"Bro, let's begin with you writing songs anywhere close to Running to Stand Still or With or Without You and then we'll chat about song writing".)

3. The Atlas Travellers—they will boast, "Accha, this is your first U2 show? I saw them first in 2001, in Tokyo. In fact, I spoke to their managers about them playing at my daughters 'sangeet' next year."

4. The Air Kissing Page 3-ers—to this glam set it doesn't matter if it's Justin Bieber or Bono. It's about getting VVVIP seats and attending the after- show parties.

"I got a selfie with uhm, what his name, yeah Mr Bono, he's damn 'hot' even at 60. I met him at Milind's party, we talked about the future of music."

5. The Anpads, who say things like "I adore U2 especially their hit single Red Red Wine.

Finally, Mumbai had one addition that Singapore didn't—AR Rehman in dark glasses singing Ahimsa. But I had left the show before that. Bono without Bollywood, is how I'd like to remember this epic concert.

(Sad irony—while U2 sang Give Peace A Chance—AMU and Jamia were burning.)

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photgrapher and traveller.

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