Friday, 20 March 2009

2002 March - The Meteor Awards In Dublin

Julie, Debbi and I attended The Meteor awards in Dublin in early March, U2 were receiving awards so we were really looking forward to it and hoping the band would play a song or two. We'd bought quite expensive VIP tickets and got all dressed up to look the part.

As we crossed the East Link bridge Walk On was playing on the taxi radio, so fitting! We were dropped off at the back of the Point Depot. There was a special entrance for the VIP guests, complete with red carpet, though I must say the waiting photographers put their camera down as we approached LOL!

We were given wristbands and went up the escalators to the champagne and wine reception. It was all quite low-key really and I didn't recognise anyone there.

We went to our seats which were quite good and opposite the real VIPs. We saw Paul McGuinness arrive and noted that there were four empty seats beside him.

The opening act was a band called Kila, and as the lights went down U2 took their seats to a big cheer and applause. As the people in that area were getting up and down to go for awards etc there was always dim lighting on which meant we had a good view of U2 opposite us.

Patrick Keilty presented the show which included Enrique Iglesias, the Cranberries, Gabrielle, Six, Westlife. But I must say we spent most of the time watching U2! Bono talked a lot and couldn't sit still for long. People kept coming up to him (he had an aisle seat) and talked or asked for autographs and he always responded to them. It was nice just to watch him, what patience he has. How strange it must be to know so many eyes are upon you, that you are never anonymous.

U2 were nominated for seven awards and won them all, so they had many visits to the main stage. When Walk On won the Best Song category Adam thanked Daniel Lanois as he had saved the song being dropped during recording.

Bono spoke about the Slane concerts and thanked the crowd for keeping him going when all he could see in the audience was his father's face. He admitted it was still a difficult time for him, his honesty about his grief was really moving.

We fully expected the band to play at some point during the show but they didn't. We were very disappointed, as I'm sure were a lot of people.

It took us ages to find the buses that were taking up to the after-show party at Cafe en Seine. It was a wickedly cold night and the wind whipping up the Liffey from the Irish Sea chilled me to the bone. I had high heels on and not being used to them my feet were starting to ache and I was so glad when we found the bus!

Another red carpet awaited us at Cafe en Seine Flanked on either side by two 14 foot inflatable "waiters". Beyond was a heaving mass of people, queues for everything, nowhere to sit, music so loud you couldn't speak, my idea of hell! On top of that my feet were now agonisingly painful, all I wanted a seat.

The place itself was amazing, Debbi had been before but it was my first visit. Massive golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling, there were palms everywhere, two floors of galleries with balconies, the floors were tiled with Victorian tiles, very beautiful.

We got our food and found some backstairs to sit down on to eat it as it was a proper meal not finger food that you could wander round with. anyway my feet were glad of the rest!

The only people we recognised were Stephen Gately and Craig Doyle, of course the A-lister party was elsewhere. Gradually the place emptied a bit and we found seats which was much better. We were determined to make the most of the night and stayed until 3am before getting a taxi back to our hotel. I was so relieved to get those damn high heels off!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

2001 September - Elevation Tour, Glasgow - The End Of Our U2 Road

The 28th August saw Julie and I sitting on a plane en-route from Ireland to Newcastle. We picked up my car there and drove back to my place in Cumbria, had lunch and then set off north to Glasgow - ahh this jet set lifestyle of U2 fans eh?

We arrived at the SECC at 3pm and one of the first people we saw was our friend Karen. She told us that the queue for the heart enclosure was just up the hall and that we could still join it. I said that we only had seated tickets and she said they were selling standing tickets now at the box office. We didn't have to think twice, we bought tickets and quickly sold our seated tickets for cost prices to grateful fans.

We joined the very organised heart queue. One of the things I love about the Scottish shows is that they are always well organised and most of the more obsessive fans who are at the front of every queue tend not to get that far north!

We were let into the heart at 6.20pm in an orderly manner. After going in we couldn't go out into the main hall, but there was no need to as there was a merchandise stall, refreshments and toilets just for the heart crowd, absolutely brilliant almost like being VIPs!

The support band was a local band The Cosmic Rough Riders which I enjoyed and who the crowd loved. Then it was U2 and the audience went wild! There was plenty of room to move about and even though we are both small we could easily see everything on stage.

Bono seemed very tired, I think all the physically and even more the emotional and psychological strain of the last few weeks were catching up with him. But he still put all he had left into the show. The crowd were great, you can always feel the special Celtic bond between the audience and U2 when in Scotland. Glasgow was a last minute addition to the tour as well and I think the crowd really appreciated that too.

It was quite a short show, no New York or In A Little While. The song that really got to me that night was With Or Without You. Bono said, "This is for my dad - and this is for you" to us. Later he said that the audiences at shows during that time helped him get through those difficult personal times, and by singing that song at Glasgow he was telling us that. It was a very emotional performance and there were quite a lot of tearful people in the crowd including me.

Mysterious Ways was special that night, it wasn't playful and earthy like in London, it was spiritual, that's the only way I can describe it. Bono totally lost himself in the music. He had said earlier in the tour that music is magic, well we saw a bit of that magic in Glasgow that night.

It's always a bit sad at the end of the last U2 show you are going to see on tour. This UK leg of Elevation had been very special because of the illness and death of Bono's father. I was quite emotional myself and related a lot to Bono, because my mother too was terminally ill at the time and died a few months after his father.

Bono shared stories about his dad with us and gave us an insight into what he was like, and it struck me that in many ways Bono was very like him. All this created an intimacy about these shows, a closeness, as we supported Bono emotionally as he poured his heart out to us in each show. It could only happen at a U2 show and I feel really privileged to have been part of it all, they were truly special times that I will never forget.