Random acts of kindness

Bono.  Superstar in more ways than one.

We all have seen or heard about that crazy moment during her show when Oprah says “reach under your seat” and everyone ends up with a new car.  When a superstar reaches out and touches an ordinary person with a gift of genuine kindness, it touches us all. 

I never had the privilege of sitting in the audience during  ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, but I was in the audience for the 100th performance of U2’s 360 Tour in Nashville last Saturday night.  The show ended with the song, ‘Surrender’, and all 45,000 of us there were about to leave happy.

My son, Alex, was going to leave happier than most concert goers, as he had not one, but TWO guitar picks in his pocket.  The came unexpectedly from Adam Clayton’s guitar tech as he circled the outer stage during a check.  The second came a few minutes later from Dallas, Edge’s guitar tech who we were calling by name.  It turns out that second pick has Bono’s signature on one side, and a Superbowl insignia on the other.  Cool.  Even cooler if you are 12.  
Alex at the gate to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville
Here we are!  As seen by the U2 Fan Cam

Alex up in the stands, overlooking the stage, and our great seats down below.

Adam Clayton's guitar tech

Dallas, Edge's guitar tech, gives Alex a pick.

Eason and Alex with pick #1.
Alex with his picks, and the band about to walk onstage.

Then again, it was Eason who had orchestrated everything, and was certainly happier than most concert goers as well .  This was his sixth concert on the tour.  He had been in the Red Zone for the 360 Tour in Dublin, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami just three days earlier, and now Nashville.  He knew where to stand and what to look for.  He knew when there were diplomats in the audience because he spotted the security. He knew the usual set list, and when they deviated from it. He knew Dallas, and he knew he often gave guitar picks to kids.  Eason is a pro concert goer and a huge U2 fan, and this was his second concert in three days with a 12 year old in the front row of the Red Zone.  Three picks for two different kids in three days.  Not bad.

Edge on the bridge, with Bono in the background on the second bridge.

Bono passing right in front of us

Show #100 on the U2 360 Tour.
But at the end of the show, it was not what we received in booty that made the event all the more memorable.  It was Bono's personal gesture that was at once so small and so huge that it simply defied explanation in the moment.   I was thrilled and stunned to watch as Bono approached the front edge of the stage after the finale (we were off to stage right) and lean over to someone and yell “What do you want to play?”.  Seriously?  How could he even know if someone in the audience could play anything?   
A second later, he was hauling a rather large guy (at least 6 inches taller than Bono) up onto the stage.  Was this really happening?  Bono said “Get this guy a guitar.  Give him my guitar”.  And to the guy, “What’s your wife’s name?”.  The poor guy could barely reply, “Andrea.  My wife’s name is Andrea”.  And before you knew it, Bono was singing the intro to “All I Want Is You”  

 “You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold.   
You say you want your story to remain untold.   
But all the promises we made
From the cradle to the grave 
When all I want is you…” 

When I think of it, I still get goosebumps on my arms.  Imagine: Random guy from the audience is hauled up on stage, is holding Bono’s guitar and playing it (quite well), and Bono is singing with him and the band has now joined in.  Imagine the audience going crazy.  Now imagine twice as crazy as that.  I thought about making a video, but frankly I just wanted to enjoy the moment.  I was singing too, at the top of my lungs.  We all were.  When it ended, I was screaming.  We all were.  Bono and the guy hugged.  Adam (we learned his name the next day), took off the guitar and handed it back to Bono.

Adam Bevell plays Bono's guitar while Bono sings
Then Bono gave him back the guitar!  “You keep it” he appeared to say.  More screaming with whatever voice I had left.  Can you possibly imagine the thrill?  I kept thinking I was witnessing the experience of a lifetime, and we were all thrilled to share the experience.  I was so happy for this guy, and so happy to be there.  

We learned more the next day, and the story only got better.  Adam is blind.  Bono was reading his sign “Blind guitar player. Bring me up!” when he first approached him in the audience.  So while Adam never saw the stadium go wild, he most certainly heard it and felt it.  He was nervous at first, but he did a great job in spite of the nerves.  I am certain he will always treasure that guitar.

Over and over I thought of that moment.  I thought of Bono’s simple display of kindness.  I thought of how he had already finished an incredible concert with the band, and that was enough.  Then he went the extra mile, and did something extraordinary for one person, which became extraordinary for us all.  And the ripple effect continues.  Even in that moment, I was in awe of the gesture, and asking myself how I could do the same in my own life.  

Instead of leaving the concert thinking about what an amazing experience I had just been given, I left thinking "How can I give someone an experience that feels like THAT!!?"  Bravo to Bono and U2 for shifting my thinking.


  1. Great post, we were just above you in the bleachers in Nashville. That was a heartfelt gesture to bring him on stage, proof that every U2 show is something special. I remember seeing him walk out of the circle and saw his walking cane "he was blind and on stage with U2!".

    I was at the Dublin show as well and just a couple of days ago the Chicago show.

  2. So awesome!!! It looks like you guys had a blast!!! I'm sure Alex is still beaming!!! ;) xo