A week ago Saturday, Fergus took me out to the Dublin Square Pub down in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. Desire, a U2 tribute band, was playing, and I was in the mood for a little fake Bono with a five dollar cover.
A few years ago back in New York, I saw a U2 tribute band from New Jersey. It went great until the Bono opened his mouth with his full-on New Jerseyness. The spell was broken.
Apparently, the San Diego Bono was Irish and had started out singing U2 at Scarey-okee at the local Irish bar. In between songs, he'd hang out at the end of the bar and write in his notebook. Ewww. Hate them notebooks on the bar.
Still, I was feeling up and chipper as the grand birthday celebration was continuing. Besides, I knew the songs would be good. If not, we could always just have pints.
The Dublin Square was packed, but we found our friends and secured stools around the table. Fergus and I dove into our pints like Greg Louganis.
This Desire band was pretty good. The band could play in tune and had the U2 catalogue down. The Edge wore a knitted beanie cap, had an Edge-like demeanor, and could play in an Edge-like way.
The Bono looked like Bono and had all the mannerisms down. Even though he lost the high notes on ‘One', he could channel the Bono energy. He'd dance out into the crowd. He took it to a whole other level. He was able to channel the complete freedom and possibility of Bono and zap the crowd with the Bono energy. If he was actor, I would say he was committed to his role.
Maybe it works because Bono is so iconic and messianic at the same time. Maybe it works because the Bono persona hits so many people. Maybe it's the sunglasses and black leather. Maybe it's because U2 has been around soooo long. ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)' gets played and suddenly all the thirty-somethings start singing ‘in the naaaame of looooove'. Maybe it falls in line with the very American idea of becoming whoever you want to be. Can I be Bono? Yes, you can be Bono even if only for a night.
You knew it was a tribute band, but it had so much heart, that you just didn't care. U2 fills stadiums, not little pubs in the middle of a block. By the end, we were all chanting ‘Oh! You! Look! So! Beauuuuutiful! Tonight!' right there with him. Yes, we can end poverty in Africa.