Climbing the Joshua Tree


For my 47th birthday this year, my wife proposed that we get tickets for the 2017 U2 “Joshua Tree” concert in Arlington, Texas. Apparently, Bono needed to purchase another Irish castle for his total real estate holdings to qualify as a new continent, so he and his band decided to embark on a multi-city tour on which they would play every track from their 1987 hit album. I actually thought this was a really sweet gesture on the part of my wife, although I suspect she was trying to pre-empt my suggesting that at our age, we should just celebrate with a 4:00 p.m. supper at Luby’s cafeteria–followed by a nap. She also may have done it out of pity, considering that instead of aging into the rugged appearance of a Robert Redford or Clint Eastwood, the older I get, the more I look like Angela Lansbury–only more matronly.

On our drive to Arlington, I passed the time by engaging in a Facebook argument with a friend about whether U2 or Fleetwood Mac is the better band (because everyone knows that Facebook is the ideal forum for conflict resolution). He remarked that all U2 songs are the same with their “twanga, twanga, twanga, twanga” riffs (those are technical musical terms) and Bono’s refusal to take off his dilation sunglasses. I replied that Stevie Nicks sings like she has a mouthful of landscaping mulch.

Our intellectual debate ended when my wife and I entered the cavernous AT&T Stadium and immediately joined one of several massive lines for our obligatory concert t-shirts, which haven’t changed much since my high school days with their paper-thin fabric that inevitably transforms into a sausage casing after the first wash. Thank goodness they were only $40 each!

After about twenty minutes of waiting, we had almost reached the register when the rather surly sales associate sharply announced that we (and the 200 people behind us) weren’t actually in a line. Well, I wasn’t about to stand for this injustice, so I did what any self-respecting husband would do–nudged my wife forward so she could explain that there was going to be a riot if this horde of middle-aged fans was prevented from trying to recapture their youth with an overpriced souvenir that is destined to have its sleeves cut off. Luckily Mrs. Grouchybloomers (the sales associate, not my wife-of course) listened to reason and allowed us to waste our hard-earned money on a couple of garments that we would probably be using to clean our toilet seats in a month.

We then began our ascent up approximately 26 escalators to find our seats, located just below the stratosphere. We knew we were in for a hike when an usher issued us anti-gravity boots and our own Sherpa.

Once we had set up base camp near the roof of the stadium, the concert began with the opening act, The Lumineers. I had never heard of The Lumineers, and I’m still not sure how to pronounce their name, but I did appreciate their folk-rock style. I even recognized a few of their songs from Dick’s Sporting Goods, Blue Moon Beer, and Bing commercials. (It’s refreshing to see a band that hasn’t sold out to capitalism.)

When U2 took the stage, the crowd went wild, and although I knew all of the songs, I needed the Hubble telescope to determine whether the miniature figures on the stage were actually Bono and the boys, or a pack of trained labradoodles. To further complicate our view, the couple seated directly in front of us occasionally stood up and danced around. (Apparently they forgot they were in the section for borderline fans who only stand up and dance around if they have to go to the bathroom really badly.)

About halfway through U2’s set, the dry, thin air at our elevation began to take its toll, and my wife and I grew desperate for something to drink. Luckily, we were able to avoid using our rappelling gear to go down to the concession stand when a drink vendor appeared in our section. He was selling some kind of semi-frozen liquid that tasted like a Nyquil Slurpee, but we didn’t care at that point. It was cold, refreshing, and almost made us feel like dancing along with the overeager couple in front of us–almost.

Other than the altitude sickness, I have to admit that attending the concert was a great birthday gift, and seeing a legendary band I enjoyed in my teen years really took me back to those simpler days when my main concern was whether or not I could get away with using my mom’s makeup to disguise my zits. (I now use my wife’s.) We even made plans to attend another concert featuring Styx and REO Speedwagon–after an early supper at Luby’s and a good nap.

– Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of East Texas, and an Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective, and his blog is published at Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.


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