Previous entry Next entry

Latin Adventure’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 07 Mar 2006

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

MapU2 could help end poverty, just as long as the poor are willing to pay for it.

Could Bono be the new son of God? Energetically beating his drum to a screaming hoard of adoring fans, the front man of U2 whips the porteno crowd into a frenzy not seen in Buenos Aires since Robbie Williams bared his arse from the balcony of the Four Seasons Hotel . As the atmosphere intensifies people begin collapsing all around me and are carried out by Bono’s minions. His message is simple - coexistence and tolerance is the answer to the world’s problems. Muslims, Jews and Christians living together in harmony. Is Bonology the answer to your prayers?

The vertigo road show landed in BsAs this week to thrill expectant crowds with the usual U2 flair and extravagance. The River Plate stadium overflowed with almost 70,000 cheering fans, some of which had queued up over night to be the first in.

I bought my ticket for the concert just before Christmas determined not to miss out on the opportunity to see one of the best live acts in the world. Opportunities of this kind in the UK are always few and far between and it’s not uncommon for an entire tour to sell out in a matter of hours.

Needless to say I was extremely excited at the prospect and left work early to join the queue. Franz Ferdinand were supporting and as an added bonus I went to see them play a solo gig the night before at Luna Park, an indoor arena with about three thousand in attendance. They played an energetic gig which set a lively tone for the U2 show the next day.

The stadium was an incredible spectacle, packed to the rafters with fans happily entertaining themselves during the interval with one of the most impressive Mexican waves I have ever seen. In a cloud of smoke U2 came on to a thundering applause with Bono dressed in the colors of the Argentine flag to start what turned out to be one of the best live shows I have ever seen. The back drop of a sixty foot lights screen and TV monitors helped to vertically challenged Argentines catch a glimpse of Bono in all his extravagant glory. Like many front men of cult groups (e.g. David Karesh – Wako, Texas), Bono’s skill in manipulation and control was impressive. He had the entire stadium in the palm of his hand for two and half hours and did with them as he saw fit. He would only have to lift an arm in the air and a sea of hands followed.

As a concert in its own right it was fantastic, but the underlying political message reeked of hypocrisy. In his opening message to the fans, in Spanish, Bono said “Gracias por darnos una gran vida. Gracias por esperarnos después de haber pasado momentos tan difíciles y que han sido superados por la nueva Argentina" or “Argentines have gone through difficult times, but these have been overcome by a new Argentina" U2’s last concert in Argentina was when the peso was fixed one to one with the dollar back in 1999 and they charged around USD$50 a ticket. Seven years later they returned, and were charging the equivalent sum of around ARG$160 per ticket. If Bono wanted to show his support and help the country, he should have done so when the country needed U2 the most, during the crisis when almost 50 per cent of the population were living below the poverty line. Showing up when the job is well on the way to be being completed, saying well done lads, good work, is too little too late in my opinion.

Subliminal messages flashed on the screen, denouncing the exploitation and encouraged help and unity for the poorest nations in the world. We have all seen Bono campaigning with world leaders to help end poverty and even before the show, he was invited to visit President Kirchner at the Casa Rosa. Argentina still has a long way to go in terms of development. The average monthly income remains only ARG$800 per month, about USD$260. Yet, when U2 come to Buenos Aires they seems to be perfectly happy charge what equates to almost a quarter of the average monthly national salary as an entrance fee. How does this exactly help the poor? To me, this doesn’t sound like a man trying to help out a poor and developing nation. When it comes down to it, making dollars is still what it’s all about. You can schmooze and talk to as many world leaders as you like and even be nominated for a Nobel prize, but unless you practice what you preach you will always be a hypocrite.