In all of these years -- as Lincoln Financial Field wears a spectacular 9 -- the U2 show was my first to work the crowd, to enjoy the experience -- every bit of it from start to finish.
It was a treasure. On the grand scale of acts, U2's 360 Tour ranks as the biggest going -- the highest dollar gross, the largest crowds, the most elaborate stage, the most complex multimedia mix and, with Bono in the lead, the most star studded.
The party started days before when the road crew of more than 400 workers began the load-in of a stage that consumed more than 40 yards of Lincoln Financial Field's playing footprint. When the stage was finished, it loomed high above the crest of Lincoln Financial Field and shot out four "crab-leg-like" legs. Moving staircases allowed Bono to work the entirety of the stage -- the 360 stage provided everyone a great view, an up-close look at music's top superstar who thanked the fans early in the show for "your patience, Philadelphia!!" ... as the band was forced to postpone last year's show when Bono suffered a serious back injury and most fans retained their tickets for the Thursday show.
Truth is, this was an all-everybody crowd. Tons of sports gear in the crowd, a very appreciative one for sure, stayed on its feet throughout singing to all of the favorites.
For a night, for four fabulous hours, I didn't think about the labor negotiations and the pending collective bargaining agreement. I didn't follow the headlines. I marveled at the entire spectacle of a big-time show at a big-time venue in front of a crowd that couldn't get enough.
It was part of a standout summer at Lincoln Financial Field. There was Kenny Chesney and there is Real Madrid soccer and Taylor Swift music and USA-Mexico soccer ahead. The home of your Philadelphia Eagles is more than a first-rate football stadium. It houses the major events on the East Coast and in the country.
I stood at, oh, the 20-yard line and looked up at the crowd early in the show and felt an intimacy with the crowd gathered. Everyone was pulling for the same thing, much like an Eagles game. The crowd was in sync with each other and with the music and the show. The crowd flowed in and out easily, in rhythm.
And I fielded two dozen questions about the Eagles and the season ahead and it felt like something great is right around the corner.
My introduction to U2 came in the mid-1980s, in college. The albums then were War and October and the songs tinged the same now as they did then.
This isn't a story about football, and I am happy to write it. I have a chance to see the best events of the year at Lincoln Financial Field and I made the most of one on Thursday night. I've seen every Eagles game there and they've all been memorable.
U2 on Thursday on the glitzy, incredible stage was one to file away, too. A show of shows, as they say. One that leaves with me that thump-thump-thump in the chest that a big Eagles win leaves. Great show. Great venue. Great time.
And a sense that good news is coming soon for all of us.