"In Your Hands" - Charlie Winston

I got into my car this morning and CBC Radio 2 lit up ". . . this is the most requested song on Radio 2 right now . . ." and the best song I've heard in ages faded into huge sound. This is Charlie Winston (sign up for the newsletter and get a free download of this song):

The song recalls migrant workers - those who would leave their families to work in foreign lands. In Guatemala, I saw the damage this does to families as some parents worked in other parts of the country, in Mexico on plantations or as truck drivers or as illegal workers in the United States. I've also heard countless tales of fathers leaving their families in Georgia (in Asia) to work in Russia or from North Africa to work in Europe.

There is a level of desperation that is beautifully captured by this great song.


U2 360º Tour, Vancouver, BC

All photos courtesy of Chris and Christie, our companions to the show!

A couple weeks ago, Amber and I splurged (actually, we splurged back in July when we bought our flights, reserved our hotel, and got tickets off our friend Chris) and flew to Vancouver to see one of our all-time favorite bands perform the final concert of their 2009 tour. I must say, U2 puts on a killer show.

As we had general admission tickets, our friends got in line about an hour before we arrived at BC Place. We joined them and got numbers 822 and 823 written on our hands in black marker meaning we would be admitted 822nd and 823rd to the building.

U2's stage is circular and has a larger catwalk ring around it. This means that some fans get into the inner ring and others are on the outside. Our line waiting paid off and we wound up about 5 people back from the stage. There were two bridges that swung between the mainstage and the catwalk so the band moved around a fair bit.

We were really close. In fact, when Bono reached over the railing and sang "I reached out for the one I tried to destroy" from Until the End of the World, he was reaching right for us. We almost had his sweat drip on us (gross). And no Aimee, he didn't hold our hand.

Larry doing his thing on the catwalk (we were pretty much on a first name basis).

The Edge and Bono jamming just to the left of us.

This is what a lot of people's view would have been up in the bleachers. We were inside that outer ring.

I was really proud of myself for not having looked at the set list from previous concerts on the tour. So every song was a surprise for me - and a delight. This is what the 2 hours of sound, light and emotion looked like on paper:
Breathe (2009)
Get on Your Boots (2009)
Magnificent (2009)
Mysterious Ways (1991)
Beautiful Day (2001)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (1987)
Stuck In A Moment (2001)
No Line on the Horizon (2009)
Elevation (2001)
In A Little While (2001)
Unknown Caller (2009)
Until The End of the World (1991)
Unforgettable Fire (1984)
City of Blinding Lights (2004)
Vertigo (2004)
I'll Go Crazy - Remix (2009)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1983)
MLK (1984)
Walk On (2001)

One (1991)
Where The Streets Have No Name (1987)

Ultraviolet (1991)
With or Without You (1987)
Moment of Surrender (2009)
A few things struck me during the concert. First, everyone at a U2 concert would probably be really cool to visit with. The people in line with us, the people around us in the pit, they were all really cool people with great political ideas, experiences and an appreciation for the spiritual. There was a camaraderie as Bono held out the microphone and let the audience sing the entire first verse of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and as he closed One with Amazing Grace, everyone joined in.

Secondly, the songs carried so much more meaning live than they do on the albums. I could see the expression on Bono's face and the energy in the musician's performance that added so much to each song. They had big smiles on their faces and just had a great time letting the audience participate in these offerings they had for us (and God).

Third, as I was going into the concert and I marveled at the stage structure for 90 minutes before the opening act came on. I had read and heard a lot of criticism about U2's carbon footprint because of the tour. They have three of these stages that take dozens of transport trucks to carry around to every third venue, often for just one show. The band has several planes (we saw one parked at the airport) to transport them. The show itself is a massive energy user with all the sound and light and even mechanical features. Add to that all of the extra travel by fans (we met some from Edmonton and the States, we and a dozen people we know came from Calgary, and Chris and Christy came from Regina). My buddy Chris told me that the tour was ultimately carbon neutral and that's good, but even if it wasn't - this is an amazing thing to spend energy on: unifying people to rejoice and lament and experience a rare occasion of excellent spectacle.

I have tickets for their recently announced Edmonton show in June, 2010. Should be awesome in the outdoor venue. Can't wait!

Vancouver, 21st Century City

As you can read in the post above this one, Amber and I travelled sans children (big thanks to Alanna and Kyle) to Vancouver to see U2 perform on October 28. I've been to Vancouver a handful of times, most recently this summer when we spent a few hours at the Aquarium. I even lived in Maple Ridge for a season when I was 2. I hardly expected to be impacted by the city in the 20 hours that we spent there.

Upon landing at YVR Airport, we went up an elevator and boarded the SkyTrain. For just $3.75 each, we were comfortably shuttled to downtown Vancouver in just over 20 minutes. Compare this to Edmonton where a shuttle costs $15/person and a taxi would run $48. In Calgary, a shuttle costs the same and a cab would cost about $35 (because the airport is within city limits). We used the SkyTrain to return to the airport from downtown too.

Then there was the vibrant downtown. There were people everywhere and cool shops too.

The water really makes the city though and waiting in line outside BC Place on the edge of English Bay, it really felt like this city was on the right track.

Too bad housing prices are prohibitively expensive (even more than Calgary!).