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Bono and U2 share message of unity during Atlanta concert

By Maria Saporta

So I got another dose of Bono tonight. A U2 show is always special, but I must admit that this was my least favorite of the four U2 concerts I’ve been to.

Why? The concert was in the Georgia Dome, which is too cavernous a place for rock ’n’ roll. With the exception of going to Rolling Stones concerts in the Georgia Dome, it’s difficult for a band to create that special ambiance in a sold-out, mega football stadium.

That said, a U2 concert brings a wonderful blend of music, political and social consciousness, and a camaraderie of concert-goers of all ages. Bono — with his music, his words and his persona — exudes love, hope, peace, freedom and an end to poverty.

Tonight Bono’s cause was to free Aung San Suu Kyi, a 64-old-woman who has been under house arrest in Burma for the past 14 years. Her confinement will last another 18 months because she allowed an American to stay at her home.

In one of the most moving moments of tonight’s performance, dozens of concert-goers walking along the circular walk wearing Aung San Suu Kyi face masks. As they walked, Bono and U2 were singing one of my favorite songs: “Walk On.”

The stage set up resembled a giant space ship that had a 360-round projection screen showing close-ups of the four members of U2 while they played. I still couldn’t figure out how that was technologically possible.

Another high point was when a video-taped Desmond Tutu shared Bono’s message of “One,” a world united by a common goal of peace.

Where we were sitting (high up in the nosebleed section), the sound was often muffled, and it was hard to hear the words when Bono sang.

That was not true when Bono spoke to his fans. It’s obvious that when Bono comes to Atlanta, the first person he thinks of is Martin Luther King Jr. For Bono, King was his inspiration.

In January, 2004, Bono was honored at the King Center’s Salute to Greatness dinner. Although many present had not been aware of Bono and U2’s fame, they were totally enthralled with Bono’s messages of how Atlanta must expand its civil rights tradition to the continent of Africa. Bono has made the development of Africa the centerpiece of his global reach.

Bono and Coretta Scott King at Salute to Greatness Dinner (courtesy Nicholas Wolaver)

Bono and Coretta Scott King at Salute to Greatness Dinner (courtesy Nicholas Wolaver)

At that dinner, Bono also talked about how King had influenced his life and his music. It’s was King’s message of non-violence that really helped Bono understand the way to resolve the civil conflicts in his home country of Ireland. Click here for a related post.

But what I remember most visibly was when Coretta Scott King introduced Bono as one of her children. “ “Oh Mama,” Bono warmly addressed Coretta Scott King. Hard to believe that Coretta Scott King and her daughter, Yolanda, are no longer with us.

But seeing and hearing Bono helps keep their message alive with his messiah-like quality that naturally attracts fellow followers.

Thank you Bono for your music, your show and your message of One.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. The Raisin Girl October 7, 2009 10:47 am

    It really was amazing. Bono has got to be one of the most inspired and inspiring people alive. U2 blows my mind.

    High five for fellow nose-bleed sectioners. But from where I was, the sound was just the opposite. It was so loud and clear my ears are still ringing.Report

  2. Nicholas Wolaver October 11, 2009 10:07 pm

    Great review, Maria. I think the answer to your question about the live close-ups is that in the legs of the “space ship” there were multiple boom cameras (and a couple of camera operators) tucked up in those columns (I spotted one from the pit in front of the stage after the opening act). For me, the Desmond Tutu segment was also moving — it inspired me to do some research about his work, as well as the Burmese woman. Some additional thoughts and photos are on my blog on two dates http://olympicringsandotherthings.blogspot.com/2009/10/adam-clayton-and-u2-at-georgia-dome.html and http://olympicringsandotherthings.blogspot.com/2009/10/u2-unforgettable-fire-afterthoughts.html with notes about the King dinner you referenced (as well as their 2001 Philips Arena U2 concert) here http://olympicringsandotherthings.blogspot.com/2009/01/awards-dinner-fit-for-king.htmlReport


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