Stories of Surrender
Well. Sorry for the delay on this one guys, Netflix finally released ‘Wednesday’ and priorities you know. Ha. Joking. Probably. (You should watch it though it’s really good).
Anyways – where was I ?
Oh this is starting brilliantly isn’t it ?
Well don’t be too quick to judge, I have reasons.
Bono broke my brain.
I know, again. What can I say – Blame him, not me.
Everyone reacted pretty quickly after seeing Stories of Surrender, and I mean for good reasons – reactions are supposed to be instantaneous right? Well. I needed to remember how to human first, so there’s my first excuse really.
Then I had to recover from seeing the man himself. Yeah. This finally happened ! Won’t be able to throw in my favourite poetic line about him being ‘the best friend I’ve never met’ anymore. Ha. Shame. It was a good one.
What am I saying now? See, brain broken still. I’m glad I won’t be able to say it anymore – shitty line anyway – because… IT HAPPENED. I said that already, right? Oh well. Worth a few lines after 12 years of waiting in those I guess. Still a bit surreal to think about it. It… happened. Yeah. Just trying to process it all…
And that leads to the third and main point of this delay. Processing.
Taking the time to process it all because for once I didn’t want to say a lot of shit – even though what follows will probably be still tinged by my usual nonsense – no, this time, and maybe this time only, I wanted to write something that could possibly do that evening justice. For it deserved it. And so does he.
And processing it all wasn’t an easy task – not even sure I’m there yet to be completely honest. You know those trauma that give you momentaneous amnesia? It felt a bit like that. My mind was blanked, blinded, like the empty page of the end credits left to write. Told you. He broke my brain again, big surprise. Not.
Process it all to actually react to it. I rarely make sense and trust me you don’t want to see the notes I took after that show. Not a show I saw, or one I heard, but one I truly experienced for lack of better words.
It was an experience of sorts and for the past week or so, thoughts have been twirling around without words forming to express them.
Words are hard to talk about, because you can never be unbiased about them. And that’s the main reason why I haven’t and probably won’t write about the book what he wrote himself, well, in itself.
Whenever you give your honest opinion on something, there’s a part of judgement that can’t be helped. Good. And bad. With music it’s easier somehow, the language of the soul is always inviting and ready for interpretation. Words are on another level of power. Once down on paper, they become sacred. Especially when they come from someone you consider your hero – I know you hate that B, but I still haven’t found the word I’m looking for, for you after all these years – and no, I won’t be using my shitty words to judge yours, man.
Or maybe too many words turning into a chaotic silence inside your head and drowning the ideas you almost grasped, turning them into a blur. Thoughts twirling around so fast you can’t catch them. And there you are standing in the midst of the white noise buzzing in your ears. Witnessing that mad dance of sounds.
That dance bringing quietness.
That dance bringing clarity.
An allegro bringing… peace.
Turning into another kind of white noise. And eventually into an ecstatic bliss.
That’s the feeling I felt walking out of these venues – I know, I’m a lucky fucker. I got to see it twice. And not sure if it matters to you but I will probably be more influenced by the show in Dublin for whatever comes next.
Stars aligning and all that Astro/God/Universe/Spirit, call it what you want, that seemed to take over.
Knowing with certainty that you were at the exact right place, at the exact right time for that one moment in your life.
Am I overdoing it again? Maybe. But I don’t care. Your passions are supposed to be untamable. It’s what drives you and if you don’t lose yourself in them once in a while and let them take over then what’s the point? Surrender people, just surrender not necessarily to him – I’ll get to that – but to yourself, and embrace what brings you joy even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.
Okay back to the point. Or at least closer to it somehow. Still twirling. Still drifting but this time with an anchor instead of an encore. With less sounds and more words. One word. Surrender.
I’m not sure what I was expecting of Stories of Surrender.
I knew it would be different. Not a gig, not a play, a show from the showman’s heart? Songs, words, mischief. Well now I’ve seen it I’m still not sure what to call it. But as I previously said – I’m trying my best here I swear – I didn’t see it, I’ve experienced it – and that’s the closest word to reality I can think of. It was an experience. An experience you can’t be ready for.
I spent most of that experience with tears in my eyes and a stupid smile on my face. No wait. Not stupid. Childish? Yeah. Like a child discovering fireworks or a magic trick for the first time. That genuine smile of utter amazement you can’t fight. That smile you usually keep for first times.
And it makes sense really, because it felt like I was seeing that man, hearing his voice, embracing those emotions beaming from him – for the first time.
Ha. What are you on about now you ask me? I’m telling you. It was different. It was him.
We’re used to seeing the rockstar, the showman or on certain occasions the activist. More rarely, the father and husband or even less, the son. We’re used to seeing parts of him. Versions of him. As we all do, adapting ourselves to the situation and the crowd around us.
But that night I saw him.
Paul Hewson, Steinvich Von Heischen, Bono. Whatever name he chooses or not. I saw him as himself. As a whole. As probably only his close friends and family see him. It felt intimate. Almost too close to comfort to be completely honest.
Seeing him for who he is.
Not who he tries to be, not who he pretends to be, not who we think he is but who he is. The sum of all his parts. A chance to see your hero as just a man. And not gonna lie now as the younglings say : what a man.
The honesty that came from it was exhilarating. It felt like those shadow play stories you see in old movies. Your mind trying to keep track of what your eyes are seeing, your heart trying to keep track of the emotions you’re feeling. Trying to soak it all in but the shadows twirl and swirl and dance faster and faster.
And the music.
The music guiding his soul and our hearts.
And here comes the cello and its primal rhythm instinct, beating the fast pace of this dance. Only to be joined by the surreal sound of a harp that transports you. No. Transcends you. And what feels like a choir of angels taking over the parts of our very own angel in a beanie.
It felt surreal. It felt so real.
And that’s even before Jacknife Lee starts doing whatever magic he’s doing – and dear lord that man just knows what he’s doing. What a joy to see him at work. My seat neighbour before the show had told me it was his first show sober and that he was ready to get high on music. I’m pretty sure that’s what he got alright, because damn I sure got high on the best drug in town.
An act without the act but with all the act. If that makes sense.
The voice that fills stadiums contained in a tiny room. Was it merely an acoustic trick? Maybe. Maybe not. Definitely not. No. Because you can’t contain it. You can’t contain the power of that talent, that gift or those lungs – whatever you want to call it. And all of a sudden, it’s all bigger than him. It’s all bigger than us.
The transcendence of his art.
The transcendence of his heart.
It was surreal. And somehow, you get caught in it too. The words you once shouted til your throat tore apart on those songs are now stuck in that same throat. Unable to come out. Leaving us shy to utter the words we once screamed. Too shy to take what’s his. Because you realise that all those songs we made ours along the years, he reclaimed them that night.
It was his words.
On his stage, and his alone.
No childhood friends and brothers in music to have his back this time. I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been after 46 years of it. And yet, there he was, standing tall on that theatre stage with only those chairs symbolising his mates as a comfort blanket for support – that was truly very sweet. And that made it all even more impressive.
Because, see, a theatre stage is not like any other stage. There’s nowhere to hide from others, and nowhere to hide from yourself. You’ve got to channel everything you have inside to make it real on the outside. But being on such stage is also a fast dance. One I know well for having practised it for many years actually. But it’s also one that doesn’t forgive. If you’re not fully committed to it, then it’s just a free fall with no safety net. And if every bit of your body isn’t following the dance, you’ll just end up falling face first.
An out of body experience necessary to let the story tell you. Or in his case, let the songs that were his to sing carry him along the way.
That other dude once said, ‘all the world’s a stage’ – but the world was his that night. A world we thought we knew, in which he kindly invited us to witness, from what I can only think of being an extra seat at the Sorrento Lounge. Frontrow to his heart. Inviting us to witness those private moments that build a life. The pains, the joys, the love and the laughs – so much laughs gosh, what a blessing to have everyone finally see him as the funny fucker he can be. The sums of all his parts. Such an honour to see him like that. A moment suspended in time that could never have happened. Just surreal.
Or maybe even unreal, standing there like pilgrims witnessing a miracle, mouth half open, one that science can’t explain. One that faith might. Faith in him I guess. He keeps saying those songs can bring God to walk into the room but I’m pretty sure he’s the one letting him/her/they in on a certain number of occasions.
That was definitely the case that night.
Those songs. Those words. Those stories. That fast dance. The rythm of his soul in that moment of Surrender to his audience. Bringing us to our knees this time. He keeps saying he needs to get better at the whole surrendering thing but that show I saw in Dublin was a pure moment of Surrender.
That vulnerability, unafraid and ultimately that power.
That last crazy twirl of the evening dance all caught up in that sound coming from god knows where. That power simply taking over. Over him. Over us. The tenor taking over everything.
The last gift from Bob to his 3 sons.
It was just physically impossible to resist that call. Without even noticing it, I was up on my feet, clapping, shouting, crying, laughing for witnessing the miracle of Paul David Hewson, 62 years after the first time those lungs filled with air.
And just like that, the dance ended – in a moment of awe.
A moment of pride, or love. Or both.
Even if I dare say. In a moment of grace.
Yeah. A moment of grace.
And while Jacknife Lee was giving him the biggest hug we all wanted to give him – and we all needed really – there we were, like deers in the headlights, not too sure what happened, just on our knees begging to surrender and see the day when we’ll be able to get to that level of inspiration and let our story be sung in our own words.
I’m not sure what to call that night. What I know is that it will never happen again. Like a perfect shooting star. And a blessing to be at the right place at the right time.
See? A lot to process.