(Also check out the Best of U2 – U2’s Greatest Hits – Top 100 U2 Songs)
I grew up being ‘into’ music. Every Sunday from morning to early afternoon I use to listen to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown and recorded music like crazy. I think that my open-mindedness eventually lead me to try out new types of music. My obsession with alternative music (now frequently referred to as goth music) during the 1980s is evidence of that. In any case, this is a story about me and my opening up to U2.
On March 27, 1985 U2 performed at the Montreal Forum during the 6th leg of “The Unforgettable Fire” tour. The day after the concert, a classmate, MR, was walking down the crowded halls of our small high school and someone asked him what he thought of the U2 concert. Up to that point, I had heard of the band and some of their music but I didn’t really know who they were or what they were about.
Me and U2: The Early Days
A short time later, on a late Sunday night, Montreal’s rock station “CHOM 97.7 FM” (which actually sucked bigtime – I’m glad it finally changed formats) played a U2 concert as part of their “In Concert” series. I recorded it and was instantly hooked. I was forced to make a copy of it because my sister use to ‘borrow’ (read: take) it from my room. With both of us worshipping this coveted prize, I made sure to always bring copies of the original when I took it out of the house. It may be difficult to understand why I was so protective and concerned about losing it but let’s put it into perspective:
It was a one-shot deal, almost a fluke even, that I got a copy of that concert. At the time my sister and I only had it on cassette and the music industry wasn’t a few clicks away in some cyberworld. As such, this was something that HAD to be guarded!
Not knowing any better, I thought I had recorded the “Under a Blood Red Sky” album. I questioned a number of friends but they gave me answers that indicated to me how clueless they were on the topic of U2. And so I went on thinking that’s what I had recorded. Only recently, some 17 years later did I find out that that concert was actually from a concert in Dublin, I think from roughly between 1983-1985. We can thank winmx.com – the free downloading music website for this discovery.
One of my best friends in high school, JS, was also hooked on this incredible band. We were poor students and somehow managed to get a copy of the U2 War cassette. We quickly made photocopies of the cover and copies of the cassette. Again this was was pre-Internet and so we couldn’t merely find a cover photo or make our own design and print it up. This was hard manual labour but we were absolutely addicted to U2’s rhythms, not to mention the sound and passion in Bono’s voice so we did what we had to do!
The U2 Concert Connection
My dad had great ‘connections’ for concerts and I had finally seen U2 live a few times. At one point JS and I decided to stay out all night to try to get the best possible tickets. There were some great stories from that night but I’ll just share one of my favorites.
People waiting in line were being civil and we made a list of names on a first come first served basis. Some people went home and returned in the morning. Most of us decided to wait outside on this chilly night. It was about 4am when we decided to play football in the street. It was mucho fun until the sirens. Suddenly a bunch of police cars came outta nowhere from both ends of the street and herded us into the middle of the street, batons in hand.
We explained that we were just waiting for U2 tickets and they backed off. Apparently someone driving by saw the two teams and thought it was a gang fight, hence the police action. A GANG FIGHT! How funny! Anyhow, at least one of the young lads on the police force was visibly disappointed as he walked away hitting his baton against his leg and exclaiming ‘fuhhhhk! Maudit tabernac!’
We got our tickets and enjoyed the U2 – from some relatively crappy seats. We waited outside all night and this was the best we could get?! Still, U2 is U2 and they rock! Time (magazine) at the time called them rock’s hottest ticket and that’s what they were.
Rattle and Dumb
A while later, I went to see the Rattle and Hum movie which was about U2, with MG at the Imperial theatre. She absolutely loved it. (Although she admitted that even if it was the most horrible film, she was so addicted to U2 that she had no choice but to love it). I was unimpressed. It was the beginning of the end for me and U2.
I bought the Rattle and Hum soundtrack on cassette and liked it but wasn’t overly crazy about it. I think my disappointment with the Rattle and Hum movie ruined any chances of actually loving it.
In recent years, Dr. R. Zatorre has been studying the brain in an attempt to find the place or event in your brain that reacts to those extremely subtle points of music that make you ‘feel’ how great the sound is. Well, for me just about all of U2’s songs throughout the 1980s brings out that feeling! For real! These guys have had that strong of an impact on me! I think I should volunteer for future studies… just play U2 and I’m ready!
Throughout the 1990s, during the post-Rattle and Hum era, I really lost track of U2. They barely made my radar screen. Strange how one album can change it all. I went to see them with MN when the Popmart tour came to the Olympic Stadium. Sadly he thought he could make a few bucks by scalping tickets and so out of pity and some limited interest I decided to take his last ticket which he couldn’t get rid of – of course I didn’t pay more than the cover price. The show was good but that’s all I can say.
Enter: The Internet
Around 2000, I was downloading music and it occurred to me that U2 live in concert might be worth a search or two. Well, I hit the jackpot and downloaded several gigabytes of concerts from 1979 to present, mostly from this one dude. It took some 30-40 hours to download it all at high speed but it was SO worth it. My interest in the Irish boys totally came back and I began listening to their old music again. I even bought up some U2 CDs that I didn’t own and my interest was back. Why did I buy the CDs and not just download them? Well, for some bands, you just have to have the original, that’s just the way it is! Know what I mean?
So ‘All that you can’t leave behind’ was released and my interest in these guys has once again hit a high note. I went to see the 2002 U2 Concert in Montreal at the Molson Center and of course the show was awesome. I put together a Top 100 songs of U2 listing which has become very popular, check it out!
I love these guys. They rock. I’m getting back into the past decade of their work and feel like I am making up for lost time. Better late than never.
I hope you enjoyed this (probably boring) abbreviated version of a much longer story! While no animals were harmed during the writing of this article, a number of U2 songs were listened to, with pleasure, of course…
2011: U2 is coming to the Hippodrome de Montreal.