U2 Gives Fordham a “Beautiful Day”


U2 took the stage at 8 a.m. on March 6 before an audience of thousands of students and faculty for Fordham’s most memorable event of the year. (Luke Villapaz/The Observer)

Published: March 12, 2009

“We joined a rock and roll band to get out of going to college, but maybe if it looked like this, things could have been different,” U2’s frontman, Bono, said during the March 6 performance at Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus. While the band may have missed out on college, U2 gave Fordham students an unforgettable experience.

U2’s performance was amazing, mesmerizing and just all-around awesome. Even though the band only performed for about half an hour, they made every second count with a boundless amount of energy that they put into new and old songs alike.

The concert was staged for U2’s live appearance on “Good Morning America” (“GMA”) in support of their new album “No Line On The Horizon.” By 6 a.m., Edward’s Parade was already half full with students who rolled out of bed early to see the concert that took only two weeks to plan, according to Bob Howe, director of communications at Fordham. Rose Hill staff kept the security line that wrapped around the campus moving at a quick pace.

At 8 a.m., Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. slowly emerged from Keating Hall. Bono took a cue from the crowd and shouted, “It’s F.U. time!” before the band launched into a performance of their current single, “Get On Your Boots.” About halfway through the song, Bono, decked out in his trademark wraparound sunglasses, jumped out onto a small extension of the stage that put him within inches of the front row. The highlight of the song was the bridge, during which Bono pumped his fist and chanted, “Let me in the sound!” as Mullen, Jr. slammed onto the drums while supplying backing vocals with The Edge.

Bono then introduced U2 as “a little combo from the north side of Dublin” and said, “Hope you like our new direction,” before the Edge’s rumbling guitar sound shook through the crowd. Bono soon had us waving our hands in time with the backing synthesizer as the band launched into “Magnificent,” one of the strongest songs on their new album. The shimmering sound of The Edge’s guitar echoed over the audience who loudly voiced their approval of the new song.

As the band prepared for the next song, Bono asked Mullen, Jr. what his major would have been in college. “The major key,” Mullen, Jr. deadpanned. “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” was dedicated to Friday nights at Fordham. The energetic pop-rock song is bound to be a hit.

After a short intermission, U2 took the stage again for a quick interview with Robin Roberts, the co-anchor of GMA. Bono considerately asked for a stage microphone so we could listen in. Once the crowd was able to hear, Bono talked about how U2 was formed in high school when they were 18 years old and that they haven’t forgotten that places like Fordham is where they come from. The Edge then said that the group considers people like the Fordham student body to be their peers. Mullen, Jr. got the last word when he said how happy his father will be to see that his son finally made it to college, saying, “I want to thank you and GMA for making it real for Lawrence Mullen, Sr.”

The band then played an astounding version of “Beautiful Day,” from the 2000 album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The swells of the Edge’s Gibson Explorer echoed out of speakers and off the buildings as Bono leaned in over the first row of the crowd. Everyone was smiling as the band went through the song with the same amount of passion they had when it was released. Bono also changed some of the lyrics to reflect the specific occasion singing, “Fordham University right in front of you,” reminding us of the uniqueness of the experience. The performance had us all singing along and screaming out “The Goal is Soul!” after Bono. By the end of the song, the clouds had broken enough to let the sun through. It felt like the sky cleared just to give us a beautiful day for the show.

At 9 a.m. the GMA broadcast ended, but it wasn’t the end of the concert. Mullen, Jr.’s solid drumming opened one of the most powerful tracks of the new album, “Breathe.” It featured rapid-fire singing by Bono ala Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” before a belting chorus took the song to an even higher level. U2 finished the concert with a blistering version of their 2004 hit single, “Vertigo.” We all yelled out, “Uno, dos, tres, catorze!” as the song started and as the “Hello! Hello!” chorus as we jumped and danced on the field.

The band gave a phenomenal performance, and Bono’s vocals were exceptional. It is amazing that after 30 years, U2 is still at the top of their game.

Before Eddie’s Parade was abandoned, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, had a few words for the crowd of students. He said how proud he was of us for our good behavior and that Fordham had been introduced to over 4.5 million homes during the broadcast. He also joked that there should be an extra-early class period at 7 a.m. since students are willing to get up at such an early hour. “So, ladies and gentleman, there will be class,” McShane said, “But you’ve had the experience of a lifetime.”

Seeing U2 play at my university was one of the most surreal and unforgettable experiences of my life. Not only did the students and faculty get to see one of the biggest bands in the world perform, but we got to see them perform just for us. It doesn’t get much better than that.