Tuesday, 29 April 2008

1989 December - The First U2 Concert - Lovetown

By now I really wanted to see U2 live and was waiting for the band to announce the dates of their Lovetown Tour. When they did I was dismayed to discover there were no dates in the UK! I was very disappointed, and thought I would have to wait years until the next tour to see them play live. Then, I saw an advertisement in my local paper for a concert trip by bus to see U2 in Dortmund, Germany on 15th December. I jumped at the chance to see a Lovetown gig and immediately booked my place. I was travelling by myself but I wasn't fazed by that, Germany was a very familiar to me as my mother came from there and I'd often visited the country when I was younger.

On December the 14th I travelled to Newcastle to join the coach. I got it ok and so began a seemingly endless journey south. We stopped at York and Leeds to pick up other people, the coach was nearly full.

We arrived in a Dover at 1am, a storm was blowing and it was so severe that waves were crashing over the sea barriers onto the street! I was a bit worried when I saw this because I knew we wouldn't be able to set sail in a storm of this magnitude. We found out that no ferries had sailed since 8pm and none would go until at least 5am, and only then if the storm had abated.

There is nothing worse than sitting for four hours on a bus being buffeted by storm-force winds on a dark quayside in the middle of December. Most people took the opportunity to get some sleep, but I can never sleep anywhere except in my bed, so the night turned out to be long for me.

Thankfully, the storm blew itself out and at 5.30am we drove on board the ferry and set sail at 6am. The crossing was surprisingly smooth, no problems with French customs and by 7am we were on the autoroute heading for Dortmund. As we were so behind schedule due to the ferry delay to make up time we didn't stop for refreshments enroute. The journey was quite boring be it France, Belgium, Holland or Germany the landscape looked the same - flat. So far there had been a lot of tedium on this trip!

Our hotel was in Dusseldorf (about an hour's drive from the gig venue) and we arrived there at 2pm, it was a much nicer place than I expected, very modern and clean. It was good to freshen up, change my clothes and get something to eat! Though I had no sleep the previous night the anticipation of seeing U2 play live kept me wide awake.

I went out to explore the area as I always do when I arrive somewhere new. It was a commercial area so there wasn't much to see - one supermarket and lots of banks and businesses. I was soon back in my hotel counting the minutes until we left for the concert.

We left for the Westfalenhalle at 5pm for what should have been an hour-long journey with our representative guiding our driver. Although the rep. had been to the concert the night before she did not seem to be very confident at finding the venue. When I saw the big blue Bayer sign pass by for the second time I knew we were going in circles and not that close to Dortmund. People on the coach, were getting agitated. Around 7pm we passed a taxi rank and someone suggested getting a taxi to guide us to the venue - the rep. went with that (think she would have been lynched if she hadn't!). We were all worried that after travelling this long and far we were not going to get to the arena in time! So there we were, a coach load of British U2 fans following a taxi through the industrial cities of the Ruhr looking for U2!

By 7.30pm we were stuck in a horrendous traffic jam within sight of the Westfalenhalle. The driver told us where to look for the coach after the concert and then let us get off and we walked the last couple of hundred yards.

At the entrance to the venue was a huge crush of people who all seemed to be trying to get through one door, no one seemed to be organising things. It was a nasty experience, cans underfoot made walking difficult and being small I could not see where I was being pushed to by this seething mass. Once we were inside I was relieved to see the mass fan out and the crush abate, I hoped all this effort to see U2 was going to be worthwhile.

There was no hope of getting near the front and I thought I'd see nothing due to my lack of height. But it turned out that the back part of the floor area was made up of stepped platforms, so I stood near the back and could see really well. I breathed a sigh of relief and the excitement mounted - after all the delays I was in the venue and would see U2 live shortly!

I'd barely found my spot when B B King came on stage. I do not like his type of music and i must admit that I found his set quite forgettable, all I wante was U2!

They came on the stage at 9pm and I felt I was going to burst with excitement! They opened with Bullet the Blue Sky and it was stunning, Edge's guitar solo was amazing. All I Want is You was beautiful, the audience was very responsive and sang along swaying and holding up lighters and sparklers. The audience went ballistic when they played I Will Follow, jumping up and down manically. They played the haunting One Tree Hill, a song I've always loved, it was to be the only time I would hear it live. The opening notes of Bad rang out and I got goosebumps as I always do when that song is played. It brought tears to my eyes, the intensity of Bono's delivery of the song was breathtaking, his stage presence like nothing I'd ever seen before.

I had my first spiritual experience at a U2 concert that night. I am not a religious person and don't relate to U2's personal Chrisitian beliefs very strongly, but something happened that night. I felt close to everyone in that building, we were joined together in this uplifting experience. It transcended being just a music concert , I was taken out of myself - this music touched my very soul. I've experienced that many times since at U2 concerts and each time it takes my breath away!

Bono had been having problems with his voice during the tour and at times that was clear at this gig. He encouraged the audience to sing with him and boy did they! It was a very enthusiastic and responsive crowd and they really helped Bono out that night. It turned out that Bono could not finish the show the following night because of his voice problems and then had to cancel a few shows - we were so lucky to get a full show.

BB King and his band joined U2 for a few songs towards the end including When Love Comes to Town and Love Rescue Me. I would have preferred less of B B really, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

40 closed the night, it was beautiful, but I felt sad as I knew the show was coming to the end. Most bands finish shows with high tempo hits, but not U2, they say goodbye in a low key but moving way - the music slowly winds down as they leave the stage one by one. Tears stung my eyes as I watched them walk off stage - Bono, Edge, Adam and finally Larry - and that was it, the end of my first U2 live experience.

I had worried that, after the build up, I might be disappointed in the band live, that they might not live up to my expectations. But they had lived up to my expectations and more, the concert had been a roller coaster of emotions, a spiritual experience, full of sheer joy and also fun. Now, looking back there have been better gigs and tours, but that first one is always special.

On the coach back to the hotel everyone was buzzing and talking about the gig. We'd had a bit of a nightmare just getting there, but that was all forgotten now. I saw the big blue Bayer sign shining in the night once more and smiled, the things you go through for U2! I kind of knew then that this was only the beginning......

Saturday, 26 April 2008

1989 April 29th The First Time, Meeting Bono

I had been told one of the best ways to see the Dublin area is by travelling on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) suburban railway from north to south. So, after breakfast, I headed to Connolly Station and got on the green DART train that was heading north to Howth - Binn Eadair in Irish. The train was comfortable and, at this time of day, quiet. It glided smoothly out of the city centre and through the suburbs of north eastern Dublin that skirted Dublin Bay. As the train approached Howth, the bulk of the Ben of Howth loomed ahead.

I got off the train and walked the short distance into the village. It skirted the north coast of the peninsula and had a pretty harbour full of fishing boats. A short distance offshore I could see the little island known as Ireland's Eye which was a nature reserve.

Howth was very rocky - rocks jutted out at weird angles on the hill and out of the sea, the cold wind blew in from the north and nipped my cheeks, very bracing! Behind the small harbour with colourful fishing boats there was a parade of shops along the main street.

I stayed in Howth for about 15 minutes before heading to the DART again. I was glad to be back in the warm and snug train - this time I was headed on the longer journey to the southern terminus of the DART at Bray - Bre in Irish (I was beginning my education in the Irish language on this trip too!).

We travelled back into the city centre and on across the Liffey, we passed Sydney Parade station which I remembered from James Joyce's book Dubliners. At Booterstown the train line suddenly opened out onto the coast and the view across the wide expanse of Dublin Bay was beautiful. The train continued south following the sweep of the bay to the port of Dun Laoghaire, with it's church steeples, myriads of boats and large harbour around which two piers gracefully curved like huge arms holding the water in an embrace.

I stayed on the DART, as it travelled on through upmarket Dalkey and into a long tunnel which opened out onto Killiney Bay. I was stunned by the view, the sun was now shining and the sky was azure blue, a shimmering, crescent-shaped bay with sandy beach lay ahead. It was flanked by granite hills to the right of the DART line on which were scattered large Italianate mansions.

Killiney was so gorgeous I decided to get off the DART there. I walked down the steps onto the beach which, surprisingly, was very quiet. the sea was very blue and calm, the only sounds were the seagulls and the waves lapping onto the beach. It was such a relaxing place and I enjoyed half an hour wandering along the beach.

I then decided to walk up Killiney Hill. This was quite a hard walk up very steep narrow roads lined by with beautiful mansions with lush gardens and high, natural grey stone walls. The unusual smell of eucalyptus hung in the air. The area had a Mediterranean feel to it. Later I was not surprised to find out that this was where the millionaires live - including someone called Bono.

On Killiney Hill the view was glorious, to the south taking in all of Killiney Bay and beyond, the humpback of Bray Head and volcano-like peaks of the Sugarloaf mountains clearly visible. From the white Victorian obelisk on the summit of the hill, the view to the north was just as stunning, Dalkey Island, that separates Dublin and Killiney Bays, Dun Laoghaire, the city and bay of Dublin and Howth Head where I had been that morning. I sat on one of the granite rocks warmed by the sun and admired the view as magpies cawed and darted around me. I had never realised the area around Dublin was so scenic.
Time was passing and I reluctantly tore myself away and had a leisurely and easy walk down to the DART station and got the next train back to the city.

The benefit concert at the Abbey Theatre was due to start at 7.30pm and I arrived there at 6.45pm. Quite a few people had already congregated at the theatre and a jazz band was playing in the street. There was a lively atmosphere and the evening was warm so waiting wasn't unpleasant. I occupied my time learning a bit of Irish: bruscar - litter, sraide -street, mainstir - abbey.... well it helped pass the time!

I watched the parade of Dublin's A-listers arriving for the concert, then suddenly I saw a face I recognised - it was Adam! He was wearing a white suit and looked very handsome. I had never thought of Adam as handsome before, but in real life he is. I remember reading an interview with Anton Corbijn where he said that Larry and Edge were easy to photograph as they were photogenic. But Bono was difficult because he can look so different depending what angle the photos are taken. He said that Adam was also difficult because he was not photogenic. Well I can confirm Adam looks great in real life!

Adam looked right at me (I wasn't far away) and smiled warmly and nodded, how nice! Shortly afterwards Edge arrived with his wife Aislinn. After this there was quite a long wait until we saw Bono arriving at a side entrance of the theatre, he turned and waved to the waiting people and then was almost dragged inside by two security men! I was a bit disappointed, but the Bono I'd heard of was always good with fans so I thought it was worthwhile waiting a bit longer.
There were other famous people at the benefit including Burgess Meredith and Daniel Day-Lewis and Daniel came out to meet fans and sign autographs. I got his autograph, he was very nice and seemed quite shy.

By 9.45pm my poor sore, blistered feet were protesting and I was beginning to tire of waiting for Bono. Then, as if my thoughts had been read, the side door opened and there was he was! I was not far away, and could hardly believe my eyes! His hair was very long, too long, and he had beads of sweat on his face, as if he'd just come off the stage. Some of the young girls there got really excited and started screaming. Bono said that if everyone stayed calm and quiet he would stay out and sign autographs. Luckily the girls calmed down and he stayed out.

I was the first to get an autograph - on a straggly piece of paper I had - it had never occurred to me that I might meet any of U2 in Dublin so I didn't have an album cover or anything like that with me. I think he said something to me but I can't remember what he said! But I do remember him looking directly into my eyes, and his vivid blue eyes seemed to look right inside me (any U2 fan who has been gazed at by Bono will know what I mean!) and my knees buckled . I was getting pushed out of the way by others and I nearly did not get the autograph back - Bono did end up keeping my pen!

He spoke very quietly and had an aura of calm about him which helped keep the fans calm too. He was smaller than I imagined, only a little taller than me and I'm only 5 feet 3 inches, he was also slighter in build than I expected too. He had that typical pale Irish complexion, the most gorgeous blue eyes and exuded charisma.

I honestly could not believe what I was seeing - and at one point I just reached out through the crowd and gently touched his arm, and yes, he was real! One of the young girls asked him to sign her tee-shirt which he did, then she asked for a kiss, which she duly got. She was over-joyed and kept repeating,

"I'm going to die!"

To which Bono said,

"No, you're not" with a smile, he clearly found her ecstasy very amusing.

He signed more autographs patiently before going back inside. I'd barely caught my breath when he came out again and left with his wife Ali, who was heavily pregnant with their first child, and was driven off into the night.
As I walked back to my hotel my head was buzzing and I had a big grin on my face! I had not expected to see Adam and Edge and meet Bono in Dublin and I was so thrilled that I had. Bono had been warm and charming in person, genuine and attentive, everything I had hoped he would be.

This was my last night in the city and it was the perfect ending to my short trip. I was sad to leave the next day, I had felt so at home in Dublin, it was my kind of place Many years later Bono's lyric from Summer Rain said it all for me:

"It's not where you're born

It's where you belong"

And that was how I felt about Dublin, I belonged. I knew then that I would be back, and so began a love affair with this city that continues to this day. And as I write on this day, 26th April 2008, I realise that it is almost exactly 19 years since that first visit to Dublin and that first meeting with Bono! How that time has flown by!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

1989 April - Dublin, The First Time

I'd wanted to visit Dublin for a while, long before I was a U2 fan. But getting into U2 spurred me into action and I booked a weekend there in late April. No one I knew fancied going with me, so I went on my own, being by myself wasn't going to make any difference, I have quite an independent spirit anyway and something like that would never stop me.

I was so excited as the plane from Manchester descended into Dublin. It was a bright, sunny day and as I got off the plane the first thing I saw was the Seven Towers of Ballymun, made famous in Running to Stand Still. I took in everything as I headed into the city by taxi. I'd treated myself to a stay at the Gresham Hotel, which at that time was one of the best hotels in the city.

I left my belongings in my room and was quickly out into the city again determined to make the most of every minute in Dublin. I walked down O'Connell Street, which was lively and unfortunately rather spoiled by fast food places. I turned left into Abbey Street and bought a ticket for a play called "Una Pooka" at the Abbey Theatre the following night.

I crossed O'Connell Bridge and went on past Trinity College to Grafton Street which was obviously an upmarket street. Went on past McGonagles where U2 performed many early gigs, it wasn't flashy at all. Then I decided to head for Windmill Lane, it seemed a long way and the area was getting more and more derelict. I passed Docker's pub, well known in U2 circles and a regular watering hole for the band as it was just around the corner from Windmill Lane Studios.

The weather had closed in and a howling wind was blowing up the quays as I turned into Windmill Lane. Colourful and creative U2 graffiti covered the walls, I stopped and read some of the messages there. They were written in all languages and showed just how internationally popular U2 were that fans from all over the world had come to this place and left a message. The band still recorded at the studio then and it was a special place for fans. It was a thrill to see all these places linked to U2. they were all very ordinary, not grand, sometimes a bit down-at-heel like parts of the city itself. This was years before the Celtic Tiger raised it's head and Dublin and Ireland were struggling and young people were emigrating in droves.

I went back down the quays heading towards the East Link Bridge and passed Principle Management, U2's office, without knowing it as there was no sign saying what it was. I could see the Point Depot further down the Liffey on the opposite side of the river. I then decided to head back to the city centre to escape the cold wind roaring up the river from the Irish Sea.

Despite the icy wind I liked Dublin, in many ways it was much as I expected and I felt very at home there. It had it's grand Georgian buildings, posh streets, derelict docklands, history and U2 places. The people were warm and friendly, they smiled a lot, they were polite, I loved their openness. The city felt smaller than it actually was, it felt like a small town city, the pace wasn't frenetic. My love affair with Dublin started that day and, though the city has changed a lot, I continue to love the place as much now as then.

The next day I did history and culture! I went to Trinity College, where I saw the amazing Book of Kells in the equally fantastic old library. In the National Museum on Kildare Street I saw countless Irish treasures, including the beautiful Tara Brooch and Ardagh Chalice. I have always loved the Celtic style and it was such a treat to see these ancient examples with my own eyes. I spent over an hour and a half in the Museum and I still didn't see all it has on show and I vowed to go back one day.

I also visited Christchurch Cathedral, made out of the grey local stone with it's picturesque "bridge" across the road. On the way back I walked through Temple Bar, which was not as it is now. It was quite derelict and rundown with just a few shops, mainly of the new age type, and a few pubs, certainly not the centre of Dublin night life! The Temple Bar we see today is a relatively recent creation.

That evening I headed out to the Abbey Theatre which was just down the road from my hotel. The play I was seeing was called "Una Pooka" a new Irish play by Michael Harding. I really enjoyed it, set around the Pope's visit to Ireland in 1979 and one woman's repressed life. It was funny, sad, moving, thought -provoking and full of twists. Since then I have seen many Irish plays in Dublin and so many have that bitter-sweetness, humour-pathos that seems so much a part of Irish creativity.

After the play I went back to my hotel, picked up an evening paper in the lobby and then went to my room and lay on my bed resting my very sore feet! I read the paper and my eye caught something - Bono was appearing at the Abbey Theatre the following night at a benefit for the theatre which was in need of renovations. I could hardly believe it, Bono was in Dublin and would be appearing somewhere the next evening that was a short distance from my hotel! I decided then and there that I would go to the Abbey the next night.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

1989 - Fans and Friends

In early 1989 an advertisement in the penpal column Grapevine in Propaganda caught my eye. It was from someone called Pat in California - she was looking for U2 penpals who were over 30 years of age. In the days before email and online forums this was the only way for fans to get to know each other. I fitted the bill and was desperate to be able to share my U2 fandom with like-minded people as I knew no other fans and I felt very isolated. So I wrote to her and was thrilled to quickly receive a reply. Pat seemed to be a lovely person and so began a friendship that still continues today, though she moved on from U2 many years ago. She introduced me to other fans, Myra and Jeanette in the UK and Dianne in America. The UK fans soon drifted off, but Dianne is still a very close friend and U2 fan.

This was the start of getting to know and being able to share U2 with other fans. One of the most special things that has come my way through being a fan of U2 is friendship. I have been able to get to know people who I have more in common with than just U2, but who I would never have met had it not been for the band. I met many people in those early years - some soon moved on, some "went off" U2 and we were left with nothing else in common. Others were a bit "strange", ineviably fandom does attract some who are unbalanced. But most were great people and some have been friends for almost twenty years now.

Initially, in those early days I never thought that friendship would be a spin-off from being a fan. It is something that is precious to me and I am very grateful to U2 for that gift. I've shared so many great times with these friends and you'll read about them here!

Monday, 21 April 2008

1988 December, Late Late Show Interview

I got in from town just after 5pm and put on the TV and, to my amazement, U2 were just being introduced on The Late Late Show by Gay Byrne. This show was (and still is) an Irish institution and U2 have appeared on it a few times over the years. I had no idea they were going to be on the programme this day though and it was sheer coincidence that I came across it when I did.

It was the first interview I'd seen with the band and it showed me a little about their off-stage personalities. The main thing I saw in the interview was that they are not so serious as they appeared to be from the Rattle and Hum film. My journal notes that Bono was articulate, funny, quick witted and intelligent. Edge had a calmness and gentleness about him. Adam was polite and also articulate. Larry was quiet and did not say very much.

The closeness between the band members as people was very evident, it was clear that they were good friends. Another thing I noticed at this point was that the band, and especially Bono, was not as egocentric as was sometimes made out in the media, and that they all had their feet planted very firmly on the ground.

It was at this point that I decided that, as well as loving their music, I liked these guys as people. From a young age I had always loved music, it was a big part of my life, but until U2 came along I was never very interested in the people behind the music I liked. U2's music lifted me up, touched me, inspired me in a way other music had never done and it was because of this that I wanted to know more about the people who created it. The Late Late Show was a good introduction to Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry - the people behind the rock group.

1988 Rattle and Hum, the Album and Film

From 1987 to 1988 I was gathering various bootleg cassette tapes (remember them?!) and videos from U2's previous years. Listening to live shows and interviews, catching up on things that I'd missed out on over the ten years U2 had now been together.

1988 saw the release of the album Rattle and Hum, just a year and a half after The Joshua Tree (why can't they make albums so quickly now?). I bought it on the day of release in October, not really sure what to expect. It certainly wasn't another Joshua Tree, but then I didn't really expect that. Initially I was a little disappointed, this album didn't assault my senses and amaze me as The Joshua Tree had. It was very different. I didn't like every song on the album, in fact I really disliked some such as Angel of Harlem and When Love Comes to Town (and still don't like them). But there were also beautiful classics there such as All I Want Is You. This was the start of me realising that to be a U2 fan was challenging, they weren't going to churn out a winning formula with each album, and this is exactly what I grew to love about them and their music. Whereas The Joshua Tree flowed so effortlessly Rattle and Hum was much more chaotic and disjointed. Maybe that was indicative of where the band were themselves at the time, they were approaching a crossroads in their career.

Shortly after the album was released the film of the same name was released. Originally it was intended to be a low-key film about The Joshua Tree tour, but it ended up being a much bigger scale film, with the band playing mini-gigs at premieres in key cities. There was a lot of criticism at the time towards U2 for both the album and the film, saying that the band had overblown ideas, seeing themselves in the same league as the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, B B King - all people that featured in some way on the album. I really felt that U2 were not doing that, they admired and were inspired by these musicians and Rattle and Hum was a celebration of that.

When Rattle and Hum the film came to my home city I immediately went to see it, and yes, it was a bit grandiose and over serious in parts, but I loved it! For the first time I got a sense of what it would be like to see U2 live, the power and passion - so often used to describe U2's live gigs - but they are accurate descriptions. I saw the film three times and knew then that I had to see the band live as soon as I could.

Both Rattle and Hum, the album and the movie got a panning from the critics, which must have shook them after the plaudits for The Joshua Tree. As I wrote, at the time I was slightly disappointed in the album, but loved the film. Looking back now, they weren't U2's best moments, they got a bit lost in it all and seemed to be trying to be something they were not. But that was where U2 were at the time, and sometimes in their career they lost their way a little.

A still from the film Rattle and Hum - This one is for the ladies - need I say more?

Monday, 14 April 2008

1987 The Joshua Tree

In the days before computers the only way to get news about what was happening in the music world was via various publications, the best being the fan club magazine Propaganda, or the music programmes on TV. So the time between Live Aid and the release of The Joshua Tree little news on U2 came my way. Also, at this time I knew no one else who was a fan, so I didn't hear anything through other people either.

I bought The Joshua Tree vinyl album (no CDs then either!) when it was released in March and couldn't wait to get home to play it. When I did I was stunned. It was a different U2 from the previous albums, very different. The songs were big and bold yet very melodic, the lyrics full of imagery, Edge's guitar and Bono's voice sounding as never before. I hate to use the word, but it was very anthemic . It was the kind of music that crossed borders, that put big issues, which few other musicians looked at, such as faith, love and war, into stunning lyrics and beautiful, soaring music.

The Joshua Tree was music like no other at the time, it was head and shoulders above the rest, a breath of fresh air amongst the electro-pop prevalent then. It was also the only album I've EVER played (including others by U2) where I loved every single song! I could hardly believe it, I loved it then and I love it now, it has really stood the test of time.

The Joshua Tree Tour followed hot on the heels of the album, but I didn't get to any of the shows though I would have loved to have gone. But I could not afford it, and I really regret not having seen any gigs from that tour, but you can't do everything you want to do in this life can you?

This is when U2 became BIG and they were on the cover of magazines all over the world. The album and tour broke records, U2 had well and truly arrived and were here to stay.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

1985 13th July Live Aid

Everyone of my generation remembers Live Aid. I had the chance to go, but I had to choose whether to go to Live Aid or to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert, also at Wembley, a week before. As I live 300 miles from London there was no way I could go to both, so, being a big Bruce fan at that time I chose to see him. I'll always regret that, not that Bruce didn't put on a good show, he was brilliant, but that I missed the chance of being at LIVE AID! It was only whilst watching it I realised that it was going to be an event that would never be forgotten. There have been many such events since but none have had the impact that Live Aid had. As Bob Geldof said at the time,

"Please remember this day all of your lives. It's important. Remember the day you wanted to help".

I think many people remembered that day and what it was all about, it was a turning point in attitudes towards those who were not as fortunate as us, and an understanding formed in people that the individual can make a difference.

I remember it was a warm sunny day on July 13th 1985 and I had just moved into my first home of my own, a small apartment. For years I'd rented but now I was ready to take the responsibility of being a home owner and was loving it. I was looking forward to Live Aid and had lots of nibbles and a bottle of wine beside me and sat the whole day watching the event. I was especially curious to see the Irish band that had caught my eye two years previously....

I really enjoyed the show, Queen were brilliant and really rocked Wembley. At the end of David Bowie's set there was a moving film about the famine in Ethiopia backed by the Cars song "Drive" which was heart-breaking and made you realise just what this event was all about.

U2 came on stage at around 5.15pm and first played Sunday Bloody Sunday which went down very well with the crowd which Bono soon had eating out of his hand. The next song was Bad, not a typical crowd pleaser, but the intensity of it was compelling to watch. Then of course, the unscripted coup de grace, Bono trying to get a girl on stage, in the end having to jump off and go to her and slowly dance in the pit. No barriers, the artist and audience together, we are all in this together, together we can make a difference. Bono's gesture said all this and it was riveting. That moment would never be forgotten, and it was at that moment U2 made a lot of avid fans, including me, and we became fans for more than the music, this band was different.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

1983 The Beginning

I can clearly remember the first time U2 came into my life. It was very late one night in the summer of 1983 when I watched U2 at Red Rocks on TheTube. Until then U2 had passed me by. The programme started on the TV and I watched it (I didn't intend to initially)and was impressed by some of the songs, but I was impressed even more by the dialogue the young band had with the audience and the earnest lead singer who I later found out was called Bono. Odd name I thought, and a guitarist called the Edge? Mmmm.

I watched the programme to the end. I didn't become an avid fan then, but I never forgot them.

A Few Words

U2 has given so much over the years and I often feel my life would be lesser if I hadn't got into U2 all those years ago. The music has given me much joy, lyrics I related to that have spoken out my deepest feelings, concerts taken me on emotional rollerscoasters, and meetings with band members that have been special, often funny and always respectful.

But it's not just these things, through U2 I've met some wonderful people who became real friends, people whose paths I would never have crossed if it hadn't been for U2, and who I have more in common with than just U2. People who I've shared good times with and who helped me through the difficult times.

I've travelled to places all over the world that I would never have visited to see gigs or visit friends. I discovered the joys of Ireland and it's remarkable people, and I now view that country as my second home.

Bono has actually changed some of my views with his "other job" as an activist for the Third World. I realise that an individual can make a difference and if each person does a small something to help, that will snowball and turn into something that can make postive changes for those less fortunate than us. I so admire Bono for his work in this area, he's giving one of the most precious things he can, his time.

Well, I could go on and on, but I'll stop now. I've been an avid journal writer since the age of 17 and all my U2 stories are in those journals, along with those about the rest rest of my life. It is from these that I will take my stories and post them here. I'll start at the beginning in 1983 through to the present day - it's going to take me quite a long time!