Sunday, November 19, 2006

It can only be a matter of days

Wayne Swan has said that Kim Beazley will "absolutely" be the leader of the ALP at the next election. As any footy coach knows, this is the kiss of death.

I'm unsure what I think about this. I was embarrassed by Beazley's Karl Rove/Rove McManus gaffe but this seems to be an odd thing to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I quite like what I have seen of Kevin Rudd, but he does seem a little colourless (maybe that is just his complexion).

What I really want is a strong opposition and some excitement back in Australian politics. There seems to be so many people I meet who want someone to really challenge Howard, and even some Liberal voters think that a stronger opposition would mean a better government. I'm not sure Beazley will ever be able to do this. He just can't seem to get "lift off" on any issue.

On the other hand, another change for the ALP might lead to that awful honeymoon period from journos where Rudd can do no wrong, followed by a big let down and a period of disillusionment.

It looks like being an interesting few weeks.

The makings of a great concert

Saw U2 last night and it was fantastic. They were great and seemed to enjoy themselves, the crowd were into it, the sound was good and even poor old maligned Telstra Dome more than lived up to the task.

So, what makes a U2 concert so great. How about this:

  1. Appropriate local references. Unlike Kayne West with his hackneyed "Melbourne (pronounced "bourrrrnnne") is the best crowd ever", Bono got it just right. A verse about Melbourne and its suburbs in Beautiful Day and his imploring for the crowd from the "fashionable city" to dance got the right response. We even got a didgeridoo.

  2. Respect for the audience. We were thanked for waiting for them after their March shows were postponed. The lucky audience members who made it on stage were treated with respect and good humour. Bono's political segments assume a level of intelligence and understanding from the audience and don't seem to be to be sermonising or posturing.

  3. Respect for music. Their habit of inserting snippets of other songs Rock the Casbah, Highway to Hell and Sgt Peppers and the thank you to Joe Strummer marks U2 out as fellow music fans, just like their audience.

  4. Great songs played well in a great set list. The pace was good. It never slowed down too much, but at the same time the pace varied allowing us to relax at times.

  5. Some content. Bono's pleas for Africa, the prayer for our troops to return home safely and a prayer for the Bali bombing victims are political without being too divisive. Personally I wouldn't mind if he went further, but he knows not to alienate his audience and I guess the size of the audience is the thing that gives him the clout to meet with politicians. He comes across as eloquent and heartfelt and I think it adds enormously to the concert rather than being distracting.

  6. Amazing audio-visuals. The first encore featured two songs from Achtung Baby and we had Zooroopa style visuals. I was so entranced with the messages during The Fly ("Reclaim your space it belongs to you", "The answer is love") that I had tears in my eyes.

  7. Great fans. U2 fans in the General Admission area I was in were cheery and fun. When a pregnant woman near us got too hot, everyone cleared the way to make sure she got out and got some air. Complete strangers chatted together before the show and then sang together and smiled at each other across heads.

  8. Thank yous to their team. Bono thanked Edge and his wife Morleigh (whose young daughter's leukemia was apparently the reason for the postponement) and the tour promoters Michael Coppell.

  9. Grins. Even Larry Mullen Jnr was grinning. They were happy and enjoying themselves and it showed.

All in all a great night and one of the best concerts I've seen. An extra 500 tickets for tonight go on sale this morning ...hmmm, am tempted.

And yes, The Edge looked particularly fine. He was very bouncy and active, and his playing was great. I may have been the only person amongst 65,000 odd who finds him so sexy (ignoring the presence of his wife). Luckily I have another fine man to keep me distracted at the moment so I can get over my rock star crush.

Photos by matthias muehlbradt - see