|Herbie Hancock. September 1, 2017.|
|Aaron with John Patitucci, September 2, 2017.|
|Beck. Ford Field, 9/3/17|
After a 2nd day at Jazz Fest on Saturday, last night was the biggest night. While Aaron went down to catch bassist Esperanza Spalding play with Shorter, Lori and I made a last minute decision to see U2's 30th Anniversary "Joshua Tree" tour over at Ford Field. We arrived at the will call window at the same time as Bono entered the stadium just a few feet away; we took that as a good sign.
Beck opened the show. He played a solid set that included a brief tribute to Steely Dan's Walter Becker. There were plenty of fans around us who knew all the words to Beck's songs. But of course we weren't there for Beck, and as the minutes ticked away between the sets -- the down-time ultimately lasted a full hour as Beck's equipment was removed and the stage was set up for U2 -- we got the opportunity to internalize a scroll of poems and writings from Walt Whitman, Pedro Pietri, Sam Shepard and Elizabeth Alexander (among the ones I remember). One theme that ran through the writings was a long tradition of great writing exposing and opposing racism, nativism and sexism. Still, after an hour of nothing-but-the-scroll, a friend on the other side of the stadium texted, "I think Juan and his buddies have died 6 times already."
Finally, U2 came on to the so-called B-stage, which juts out on to the main floor. Larry Mullen Jr. came out first, to announce the opening salvo for Sunday Bloody Sunday. The rest of the band followed, giving a relatively quick run-through of some of their best-known '80's hits. No video screen, which meant those of us in General Admission who had taken up spots near the main stage saw very little of it. For this first stop of the tour's third leg, Bono made sure to announce that he understood that he was in Detroit, "City of history... city of the future." One recurrent theme was that of "looking for America," an old Simon & Garfunkel tune re-purposed now both for automobile commercials and as political commentary.
|U2 at Ford Field, September 3, 2017.|
|Bono at Ford Field, September 3, 2017.|
|Patti Smith at Ford Field, September 3, 2017.|
Smith's presence and performance elevated the song in to an emotional powerhouse. Flipping the lyrics here, adding her own words there, provided dimensions of reality and foreboding that went well beyond anything I could have anticipated. It was, simply, among the greatest concert experiences I've had.
And then it was over. We walked across dowmntown, past overflowing bars and restaurants, and drove down to where Aaron had caught a post-Jazz festival jam session. The city felt alive, felt like now.
pictures and video c) Matthew Orel