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U2 Tours (formerly part of AtU2): A Comprehensive Guide To U2’s Live Performance History
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by Jim

It was my first U2 show, and since I had never seen them before, I didnt know what to expect. I did know this: the band had been gaining in their popularity. In fact, when tickets first went on sale, the promoter had the stage planted in the middle of the floor leaving thousands of empty seats. Well, as was to be expected, the show was selling rather quickly, so the promoter decided to move the stage to the back of the arena to sell more tickets. Since I knew this was going to happen, my brother and I waited before we bought tickets and when they moved the stage to the back of the arena, we pounced on the new seats and yes, they were amazingly close.

I digress.

The show:
Red Rockers opened up. Their short set included the hit China. No big deal. The show was all right. I just wanted to see U2. I have some vivid memories of the set change. The set crew vacuuming the gray carpet, the crew setting up a sparse stage, and the small amount of lights used to light the show (if I remember correctly it was under 35).

Well, once that was done, 4th of July began playing on the speakers and the lights went off. The band walked out onto the stage and Bono said something like It looks like the whole world is in here tonight. They immediately launched into 11 O Clock Tick Tock and the audience went wild. From the opening cords, the band had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The might have been young and new to large US arenas, but they knew how to make an 18,000 seat place feel like a small club. The show was raw and quite simply amazing.

Other memories

MLK, which was so beautiful that my friend, who saw the show the next night in Austin, said to me he was so moved that he broke down and began crying when Bono sang the words Sleep, sleep tonight and may your dreams be realized.

The band was doing things that no other bands I had previously seen had done; they were opening themselves up without being contrived. They were honest and they were genuine.

Now, I remember a bouncer at the front of the stage beating the hell out of an audience member. To say the least it wasnt cool, and when Bono saw what was going on as they were performing the song Wire, he essentially stopped the song and said quite firmly: Stop Halt... These people, these people pay our wages, treat them kind! The bouncer stopped and the crowd exploded. I dont think I can adequately describe what this simple action meant to myself and to thousands of others. Maybe it meant a lot to me because I had seen a number of shows at the Summit and had seem some bouncers get rather aggressive with people without any recourse. This was the first and, to my recollection, the only time a band had the strength and integrity to move out of their comfort zone and actively stop the rough security at the Summit.

The show went on.

I remember The Electric Co and Bono singing snippets from Amazing Grace and if I remember correctly Do they Christmas Time.

Then came Bad. One of the greatest songs they performed that night. Again, Bono did what I had never seen before, he reached out to the audience pulled a woman up and slowly danced with her. It wasnt sexual and it wasnt contrived. It was something else. He had sealed the deal. If he had not yet made some sort of connection with the 18000 people that night, he did at that moment.

October: Quiet and haunting. Perfect in the show.

New Years Day, Pride, Knocking on Heavens Door, Gloria, and then 40.

I had never ever been to an event like this. And as I walked from the arena with 18,000 people filling the echoing parking lot with how long to sing this song, I realized that what I had just witnessed was the best concert I had ever been to, and to this date it still is.

I dont know what it was was it a young band taking in the size of the crowd playing with integrity and genuine abandon? Or was it myself growing up? Needless to say, it was more than a just a concert, it was truly a life altering event.

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