Tuesday, 3 June 2008
1991 November - Achtung Baby!
Achtung Baby was a longtime in the making and over the summer and autumn fans got more and more excited about the coming of a new U2 album after three years waiting. I must admit this was the time my fandom became rather over the top, and I had to have everything that came out that had anything to do with U2! I now knew quite a lot of other U2 fans in the UK and well beyond and some of us decided to go to Dublin for the release of the long-awaited Achtung Baby.
In Dublin I met up with Jane, (who I had become very friendly with over the last few months) and her friend Carol who I had not met before, first impressions were not good there was something I didn't like about her, but I was determined to try to over come that and have a great holiday. We did all the usual Dublin things, by now I was becoming very familiar with the city and still loved it as much as ever.
By Sunday 17th November quite a few songs from the new album had been played on the radio and we had listened on our Walkmans. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses which I loved and recognised some of it from the Berlin Bootleg. Until the End of the World was another dark song that initially I didn't take to, it was only when I saw this song performed live that I grew to appreciate it. Then there was One, what can you say, it took my breath away from the first listen, and even then it was clear that song was going to be a U2 classic, I loved it.
The album cover was so different from before, instead of the monochromes we were hit with a kaleidoscope of colour, U2 wearing make up, Adam naked (unless you lived somewhere that censored the image with a X!), snake-charmers, U2 in a garishly painted Trabant - in other words U2 as we'd never seen them before! Gone were the serious, earnest young men and in their place was a new incarnation of U2, and it was quite an assault on the senses, but I liked it!
HMV in Grafton Street was opening at midnight on the day of Achtung Baby's release and we were determined to be near the front of the queue, so we went along there at 1pm! Looking back I'm a bit embarrassed I did that and waited all those hours outside in the middle of November! But I'd say around this time and for maybe the next couple of years, was my most obsessive time as a U2 fan. It was madness time, but we did have great fun!
We weren't actually first in the queue, that place was taken by a bunch of Aussie fans that we knew but had not yet met, they were really nice. The windows of HMV were a riot of colour that advertised the new album, right down to a whole Trabant in one window! It really got us into the U2-vibe.
We caused a bit of a sensation in Grafton Street, and got lots of comments from passers by, but after a while we became immune to it. Unfortunately my first impressions of Carol proved true, she was rude and wound up like a spring, a very angry person who never shut up. She had taken an instant dislike to me and proceeded to completely ignore me in conversations and if she was sharing sweets would pointedly not offer one to me. She only showed herself up with this childish behaviour though and I just bit my tongue, there were lots of nice people around to occupy my time with and I didn't want to get into a row with her.
The afternoon and evening went surprisingly fast, chatting, getting things to eat and drink, going to the toilet, trying to keep warm, aching feet..... It was only from around 9pm that other people joined the queue, we could have saved ourselves a lot of hanging around! TV, radio and press people also arrived around then, I managed to get out of their way most of the time but did end up with a microphone shoved in front of me by some radio guy. I just waffled on about U2 and the forthcoming album (can't remember about what I said) and he seemed happy with that! Our picture was in the paper the next day.
Dave Fanning, who was doing a radio show for 2FM live from HMV that night, arrived and we watched all the action inside the shop. Rumours started flying around that U2 were coming for the release, that they were going to be interviewed by Dave, that they had come in the back of the shop and so on.
At midnight the shop was opened, we were amongst the first 25 people and got a free album and poster, so we were chuffed with that. There were lots of people now and the crowd was getting a bit out of hand, one of the shop windows was cracked by the pushing and the Garda were called. They emptied the shop on safety grounds, so we reluctanly trudged off into the night. It was a bit of an anti-climax, we thought we'd be able to stay in the shop and listen to Dave's show, have a bit of a party, maybe even see U2. Instead, there we were after ten minutes in the shop, back out in the street holding our precious albums heading back to our accommodation in the pouring rain! And no sign of U2.........