Live Music is Best: U2’s 360 Show in Chicago

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

Last night U2 played the 2nd show of their 360 tour of the US in Chicago. My plan for the blog this week was to present a raft of useful software to help you practice, but last night’s performance has seriously changed that plan, as in: blown it completely out of the freaking water. If you haven’t heard about the tour, and the amazing stage-in-the-round that’s been built for it, as well as the innovative screen, watch the clip from a Barcelona show below. This will give you only a vague idea of the scale and awesomeness of the show, but it’s better than anything I might describe with words. Behold (watch it in full-screen HD if you have the bandwidth):

At last night’s Chicago show, Bono reached down from the bridge that connected the main stage with the outer ring and pulled up a boy of about 10 or 12 and asked him if he wanted to go for a jog. Who would say no? They ran around the entire stage (which is VERY big) to the screams of the crowd, then lowered him back into the arms of his (presumably) joyous parents. Instant celebrity. This must have brought the music–and Bono himself–alive in a way that not many people will get to experience. Certainly not from the recorded music.

Usually, our experience of music is very abstract. It’s coherent sound coming out of a speaker, with no visuals of those who made the music, and not only that but the actual event of making the music is in the past, sometimes the distant past. This is why live music of any kind is such a powerful and necessary thing for your own music. To see live bodies in a room (or stadium) with you, making music, breathes life into what it means to make music. The art becomes real, palpably so, and takes on a resonance and meaning that goes well beyond a recording (this is, of course, assuming the sound quality is good, but even then the argument could still be made…). Not only does this make the music more real, it also somehow makes it seem more achievable, more possible for you to do yourself, and this is part of live music’s power.

In fact, neuroscience has shown that when you watch someone do something (like play Soldier Field in Chicago), the same neurons it takes to do the actions you’re watching will fire in your own brain. These are called “mirror neurons,” and if I’m not mistaken, I’ve written about this in a previous post.

Go see some live music! It doesn’t have to be one of U2’s  live shows in the US. It could be a singer-songwriter at your local coffeeshop, or some Gypsy Jazz at a campfire on the outskirts of town, or around your own campfire next weekend. Live music is best. It’s best because it’s the most real and can light the fire within (yes, that’s why I chose to use Unforgettable Fire as the example in the vid above 😉 )

Good luck!

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

U2 in Chicago @ Soldier Field

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