a misstep in the right direction

Last night in Vancouver U2 found a way to keep its live show fresh.

The Edge fell off the stage.

He was not hurt, so we can laugh about it.

A lot.

(If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it isn’t.)

And while I may not be laughing as such, I have to admit I wish I’d been at that show.

Not that I wish any misfortune to Mr. Edge (The, to friends). Nor do I have anything against U2 as a person or Bono as a thing or whatever it is.

I give U2 credit for a fine debut album (Boy), a decent mid-period album (Achtung Baby) and, in One, a contender for one of the best pop songs ever transmitted to the masses. I’ve seen the band a time or two and enjoyed the show or shows. (Okay, I’ve seen two shows.) But I’m in no hurry to see U2 again.

Unless, that is, I can be assured one of the band members will fall off the stage. Perhaps they can agree to have a different aging rocker tumble from the platform each night. Drummer Larry Mullen Jr. will have the toughest time making it look accidental, but I’m sure he can pull it off. After all, not for nothing is the quartet known as The Larry Mullen Band.

One so rarely gets to bear witness to such timeless rock-concert moments. Today’s bigname performer — what with the videos and the autotune and the computers and the costume changes — offers little to no variation from show to show. That includes between-song patter. It’s curious, in a way, given that odds are last night’s entire show has been posted on YouTube for the enjoyment of those of us desiring a blurry, distorted concert experience without the aid of chemicals. You’d think varying the setlist would be essential.

Yet, I’ve reviewed more than one show only to discover that I was in essence reviewing every show on a particular tour. The Dixie Chicks come to mind, as they were the one act for whom I dared to check setlist.fm prior to the show to see what sort of songs they were performing on the tour that last brought them to the Palladium. And sure enough, with the occasional one-off exception, the setlist was identical. Night after night.

So, thought I momentarily, it’s almost certainly safe to file this review as early as the second song. If not before. I didn’t, of course. No journalist would. Besides, it turned out to be a far better show than anticipated, despite my being armed with the setlist beforehand. So predictability does not have to be a hindrance.

Just ask a Diamondhead. I’ve had to pleasure of meeting and interviewing members of that legion of Neil Diamond fans devoted to catching as many of the Frog-who-became-a-King’s shows as possible. And while I admire their ability to withstand dozens or even hundreds of renditions of Forever in Blue Jeans — a song he performed twice at his first Palladium show — I also worry about it.

I mean, I love Neil Diamond as much as the next person. (Usually more than the next person.) But there’s a limit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. And I am not advocating for Neil Diamond falling off the stage in order to win me back as a concert-goer. That would not be advisable. Evidently, At age 53 The Edge can still handle that sort of thing. Neil Diamond, not so much.

I would, however, like to see one of those talked-about moments in my town. I had to travel all the way to New York City to see Sinéad O’Connor allegedly booed from the stage. Surely, she could have done that here; we have a fair number of Catholics and general Pope fans in Ottawa-Gatineau-Embrun region. And we’ve been known to express our displeasure — or at least righteous indignation — when deemed necessary. Heck, we’ve even had a concert riot here, as recently as 1967.

Okay, I guess I don’t want to see another riot. Or another stage-collapse. (Bluesfest is coming soon, people. Expect local press to provide another update on those lawsuits just in time for opening night.) And, now that I think about it, Ottawa has not been without its legendary concert moments. We are, doncha know, one of only three cities outside the United States to have hosted an Elvis concert. And Jimi Hendrix fans will tell you his 1968 Capitol Theatre shows were among his finest. The Sadies’ now-de rigueur “Ten more songs!” audience demand started here. Joni Mitchell met Graham Nash here. (Very much an offstage story, that, but still…) And, um, Ottawa played a significant role in making Chris de Burgh a star, which is not as easy as it sounds.

Is this a city where Mariah Carey had an onstage meltdown? Where a member of Ray Charles’s band called his employer a dog? Where Linda Thompson hit then-husband Richard over the head with a bottle? Where Jim Morrison did all those things that made him a legend (and also sang)? Where Paul Anka’s guys did not get shirts?

No. Sadly.

But hey, you know U2 will be filling in additional dates for this tour, the better to stretch it out over a period of years. Guarantee us a fall from the stage and we’ll fill the place for a week’s worth of shows. That’s a promise.

If Paul Martin‘s still in town, he can probably get it done with a simple text-message to Bono. Just don’t mention the current prime minister.

It might not happen. I can accept that. Perhaps I’m still regretting that I did not attend Meat Loaf’s Civic Centre concert all those years ago, simply because I really hate(d) everything about the man’s music. (Or, for you Buzzfeed readers: Because Meat Loaf!)

There were probably curfew issues as well. But I stayed home. He performed. He fell off the stage.

Had I been told in advance Meatloaf’s concert would end with an internationally noted fall from the humble Civic Centre stage, I (and/or my Mom) would have been among the first in line at Sears Carlingwood to buy an advance ticket.

Not in the first few rows, of course.

Please remind me of that when U2 tickets go on sale. Safety first.

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