The U2 show at the Rose Bowl may have been billed as the concert of the century but this is also the “decade of the fanboy” and I couldn’t help but notice some overlap between the massive music event and the universe we cover here at the Hero Complex.
I was only inside the venue for 10 minutes when I saw a familiar face in the churning crowd of the stadium’s outer ring. I called out to J.J. Abrams and he smiled, waved and paused but really there was no way to stop and talk amid the crowd current. “See you inside,” he said.
My son, Ben, who is 8, was attending his very first concert and he recognized Abrams but not as the creative brand behind “Lost,” “Star Trek” and “Fringe“: “Hey, he’s the guy who played keyboards in that video ‘Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions,’ right?” Um, wow, yeah, son, that is him.
We were lucky enough to get bracelets for the pre-show party at the Round Room, a swanky (but sweltering) VIP tent, and one of the first people we saw when we walked in was Ewan MacGregor, who was posing for pictures with some people. Ben was properly awed by the presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi and he was searching faces in the rest of the room in hopes, I suspect, that Chewbacca might be in some corner debating the merits of “Joshua Tree” with General Grievous.
The room was dotted with Hollywood execs (Tom Freston, Jimmy Iovine, Jeffrey Katzenberg) and glossy-magazine faces (Cindy Crawford, Paris Hilton) but they held zero interest for Ben. I ran into a friend, Nancy Sullivan, who said Chris O’Donnell, the former Boy Wonder of “Batman & Robin,” was walking around, and not long after Colin Farrell, who probably doesn’t put “Daredevil” at the top of his resume, sauntered in wearing a jaunty hat. I saw Michael Bay arrive with his statuesque date and walked over to say hello. I congratulated him on the commercial success of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (which still stands as the highest-grossing film of 2009) and got him to promise I could visit the set of the third robot film. Ben, hoping he might get to tag along, smiled like the Boucher family had just won the lottery.
It was time to head for our seats so I assumed the fanboy subplots were over but I was wrong. The startling set for the show, the cosmic claw, looks like something that Jack Kirby would have dreamed up. Bono mentioned Scarlett Johansson, star of “Iron Man 2″ and “The Spirit,” at one point but that was just a footnote. The great line came midway through the show (a show, by the way, that was absolutely astounding) when Bono began a tongue-in-cheek introduction of the band members. He described the Edge as a mad scientist and an alien visitor, whose mission has “gone where no other guitarist has gone before.” I wondered if, somewhere in the crowd of 97,000, Abrams fell out of his seat at that line. Bono added, “He’s Mr. Spock to us, he’s the Edge to you.”
Lovely. Live long and prosper, rock fans.
— Geoff Boucher
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Photos: Bono performs at U2’s Rose Bowl show in Pasadena. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.
UPDATED: Fixed a misspelled name. And, no, it wasn’t Bonno or Beno and Bobo.