A song that feels like it should be sung by everyone in the world, every day, One grabs you and doesn’t let go. One of the greatest songs that U2 have written and performed, I have the feeling that it gets better and better every time I hear it.
For me the ultimate version of One has for the longest time been the version they sang just after 9/11. I remember seeing it live, seeing the song and the names scrolling up on the screens behind the stage. I saw it live twice, and have seen it several times since on video. Those times I saw it live, it was the most powerful moment I’ve ever felt at a U2 show. It was a month or so after 9/11, and obviously the feeling nationwide was one of fear, of anger, of sorrow. Much like the feeling these last couple of days after the Paris attack. But it had been ongoing, for a month or more, that feeling of waiting for something to happen, that we were getting ready to go to war with someone, anyone, in the end it didn’t matter who because the bloodlust was up and there wasn’t any reasoning with people. And we go into the show with that feeling, with the idea that U2 are going to take us away, and they did, of course. They have commented on the feeling in the US, I have mentioned it more than once in the last few days, that it was quite rabid for a while.
And enter One into the show, they drop the screens and start displaying something on them, and you know it’s One and it’s quite a sad song in many ways, and then you realize that these are names, and you realize what the names are, victims of 9/11, and the floodgates open. Not a dry eye in the house. It was so sad, it was so happy, it was so cathartic, Bono leading the congregation in the mass - as he has said many times on the current tour - and I can honestly say that for me it was that breaking of the dam. I had cried on 9/11, I had cried a couple of times after that at various memorials and services, but that moment, in the show, that was absolutely the moment where I felt that weight lift off my shoulders. The feeling was a shared grief, but it was that feeling when you’re sick with a fever and the fever breaks. I literally had that fever break happen to me one time in my life, when I was a teenager and very sick, and I remember going from terribly sick one minute to a broken fever and feeling much better the next. That was the feeling. That we as a nation had been sick with grief, and this allowed us to let go and get back to ourselves. It was incredible.
I mentioned all this before, in the Walk On review, and it really was a combination of the two songs, that were played together, and gave that amazing feeling. They are great songs to play together.
This year of course they have been playing One differently, it has been sung by the crowd in a karaoke way with Bono leading the way, guiding to the correct lyrics in a couple of places. It has been another fantastic finish to the shows, and gives a little different perspective. Wonderful again, I do like this version very much.
I’m not going to talk about the videos, I actually reviewed them a month ago so you should go check that out too. It helps to give a complete look at the song.
My rating for One: 9 / 10