Features: U2 – On The Eve of 360

Originally posted on Facebook 10/12/2009

I love U2. As Far as I am concerned, and I don’t care what your opinion is, your reasoning, like/dislike for the political stance of the frontman, this is the greatest band in the world. Sure they’ve faltered from time to time, but for every “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car” or “Discoteque” there is an “Exit” or “Love And Peace or Else” or “Ultraviolet”. I know I am not alone here. There are so many things I can say about this band that everyone knows, I wouldn’t be breaking any new ground or shedding any new light on them whatsoever, so I will steer clear of those.

My oldest friend, Kelea Jo  and I were in Sound Warehouse around Christmas 1985. We were talking about music and looking at the tape wall (that thing was awesome) when she inquired about what I would want for Christmas that year. I thought about it a bit and decided on U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire” tape. (She in turn got Talking Heads “Little Creatures” on cassette that year.) I requested that tape pretty much knowing nothing about the band, only that in this new world of “alternative” music I was being exposed to (small town TX, although directly outside of Fort Worth had very few outlets for this type of thing at the time), and this was one of the bands I hadn’t yet gotten anything.

A couple of months later, MTV showed the “Live At Red Rocks” concert, and I was floored. Had I seen them the previous year on Live-Aid? No, my buddy I was hanging out with that day decided Live-Aid, one of the biggest identifiers of the 1980’s, wasn’t worth watching, so Red Rocks was my first live exposure to the band. (I finally bought Live-Aid on DVD strictly for U2’s performance.) Today, Red Rocks is not that mind-blowing, but in ’86 it certainly was. I waited all day for them to play the Amnesty International show later in June ‘86, and that performance floored me to no end (and still does).

I got stuck coming home from a ski trip in March 1987 and was only able to get to one tape on that ride home from Colorado, my “Unforgettable Fire” tape. I listened to it for 17 hours straight, (great batteries in the old Walkman, huh?) on auto-switch and never once got tired of those 10 songs. I had one thing on my agenda that afternoon getting home: “The Joshua Tree”. It had come out that week, and that was the only thing that mattered, getting that record. As I got home, my mom, ever the hip parent, hands me a bag with – yeah – “The Joshua Tree” LP in it. “Saw this was coming out, and I thought you would like it…” was all I heard as I traipsed back to my room to listen to the new album. She was also there when I was having a breakdown over trying to order tickets on the phone for the first of 2 nights in Fort Worth, taking the reins and abolishing me to another room before I broke the continually busy phone. She got the tickets, go LaDonna.

I had been to a few concerts before, so I knew the drill. I had floor seats but they were around row 42 or so, and I was back hanging out with a few other Aledo guys who had gone to the show as well. They had mistakenly thought they had row 7 tickets, when actually, they had row Z. The lights go out and that now all too familiar red backdrop glows throughout Tarrant County Convention Center. Everyone jumps on their seat, and all I can see in that first glimpse is the sight of Larry Mullen Jr’s head descending BELOW the heads in front of me. I can’t see anything from here! New mission, find a better spot.

Fortunately, Tarrant County is notorious for its terrible security. People in the aisles, people all around the railings, etc, complete chaos whenever you would see a show there. I run up into the balcony, trying to procure a vantage point ANYWHERE. The railing is packed, and I finally can poke my head through two heads to catch Bono lean back with the first line “I Want To Run…” The rest of the evening is sheer bliss as I went up some stairs behind me and could see clear as day. Never had I experienced an intimacy like this from music, such a collective “We Are One” sort of feeling with the crowd and band. I’m in no way trying to exaggerate this, or make it seem more important than it was; everyone in the Convention Center was riveted from “Streets” right through “40”, even singing “40” collectively into the parking lot. Although I’ve seen them 6 times since, nothing has captured that sort of emotional connection between band and audience.

I have since bought every album on release day or midnight sale, except “Pop”. Fretted over tickets every time they come to town, and never given up on them, even when they were hard to love (1997 anyone?)

I, like many people around the globe feel that connection with U2. It’s that thing that makes them your own, and the biggest band in the world, all at once. Only 8 nights in the past 24 years have I been able to answer the question “So, what are you doing tonight?” with, “Uhhh, going to see U2…?” As I finish this up, I’m probably 24 hours away from fighting traffic out of the new Cowboys Stadium, and will have seen my favorite band, the end all, be all of music, for only the 8th time. The largest touring stage production EVER, and the same 4 Dublin, Ireland natives who made an album called “Boy” 29 years ago, and took the world by storm.

And they’re all mine. And you, well, you can have them too.

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~ by thesynaptic on August 8, 2010.

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