I live in Cork in Ireland.
I recently hit the big 40, I have a wife and 2 kids (8 & 4), and I am of course a big fan of a certain Dublin band. But I also like many other bands and different types of music. In particular, I am a massive fan of live gigs and have been to see many different bands like Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Kings Of Leon, Radiohead, Neil Young, Arcade Fire, White Stripes, Damien Rice, Peter Gabriel, Mercury Rev, etc., etc., plus a lot of newer bands and Irish bands probably not that well known.
Cork is Ireland's second city, so I am lucky that we occasionally get some good international bands who are "on the way up" playing here. Many years ago Nirvana played a famous Cork Club called Sir Henrys when they were unknown, unfortunately I missed that gig! Caught newish Canadian band "Born Ruffians" live at a tiny venue last year, but inevitably, most major acts play Dublin only, so trips to Dublin are a regular thing.
U2 have many connections with the city - from some early gigs in the Arcadia, Opera House and City Hall to big gigs in 1987 and 1993, to Joe O'Herlihy and the "Cork Mafia", and the recent U218 cover photo was taken on top of a hotel over looking Cork City. Unfortunately, they have not played here since 1993 and are unlikely to play here again as there is no suitable venue for the big shows they do now.
I would go see almost anything live. There is fantastic quality and talent in all different types of music, so quiet or loud, if it's good, i'm interested. But U2 is the band I have seen the most: 13 gigs so far, and more to come in 2009. If you guys think the recent pre-sales were tricky on an English-based Ticketmaster web site you should try to buy tickets on French, German and Dutch web sites!
I was on another big U2 trip in 2005, we did 3 gigs in the U.S. in May 2005 and saw the band in New York, Philly and Boston. I was at the @U2 Vertigone night in the Paradise Theatre and briefly met @U2 staffers Sherry and Steve. That night, there was a superb U2 cover act who played the identical setlist of U2's famous 1981 gig there.
It's not just about seeing U2 in another country, it's about the whole deal, the traveling to new places I haven't been before and meeting up with other fans and having a lot of laughs along the way - and a few pints too!
Best U2 Gig I Attended
Well there were two. The first time I saw them is still etched in my memory, a free U2 gig, when they made a surprise appearance at a low-key gig for local acts, in Cork, in August 1985. That blew me away completely and it was my first gig. I really did not know what hit me. To put it in context, they had only played Live Aid 12 days earlier, and had played Croke Park a month before (probably their biggest, non-festival gig at that point) and here they were, giving an hour-long set on the back of a truck. Some friends were in the area while they were on stage, heard the music and just thought they were playing U2 records and didn't come down to see what was going on!
The second has to be Slane 2001 -- the first Slane gig on August 25, 2001. We were right up the front for that and it was an incredible gig, but the superb support included The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay so it was also memorable for this.
I started really getting into the Internet back around 1999, and soon found out that @U2 is by far the best fan site of the band. Last year I did some research for Matt on his U2 - A Diary book. That was a really interesting experience, and the way the book was written through the book blog was fascinating.
I have learned a lot from the forum over the years. It's a great place to find out things you didn't know, have a good argument (and I have had a few of those!), have a good laugh, hear about new music from other bands, and get opinions from other fans. But it's also a place where everyone is the same. It's like a big pot, and everyone throws in some ingredients and we all get to taste the soup!
Most prized U2 related possession
It's a framed photograph hanging in our house - a photo taken by (the "boy") photographer Peter Rowen of the Edge/Bono onstage at Slane 1 (in 2001) and me in the crowd, clearly visible behind them.
I have really enjoyed the ride so far, and I hope they have some more surprises to give us in the future, so I'll be sticking around for a long while to come.